Monday, April 23, 2012

A touch of Lisbon, Ericeira, and Sintra Portugal.

We arrived in Lisbon on a couple hours of sleep. Once on the ground I realized that we might have rented a car from a private party. No booth, only a phone number on the e-mail printout. I called the number via Skype and the lady on the other end of the line told me to go wait at the "meeting point." Sure enough, 15 minutes later a woman with a set of keys showed up. For all our peeps complaining about prices at the pump back in the states, stay put...we paid 1.90 Euro/liter (about $10 USD/gallon). 
First on the list was the Museu do Fado (Fados Museum) in Alfama. Rumor had it that our friend Allison from SD was going to be in town the same day. It seemed like a good meeting spot. 
Who doesn't love the LP? 
The fighting couple and the mother-in-law can been seen at the Fados Museum.
Detail of José Malhoa's O Fado painted in 1910. 
Allison working on her wine cork portrait...pointillism taken to another level.  
Jackson Pollock and Piet Mondrian's bastard child takes it out on popular fado sensation Mariza.
Another one falls to the Heineken empire; if you want a real beer from Portugal, order a Super Bock. 
Who killed Bambi?
Yum, car.
Apparently the author of this huge wall painting didn't anticipate a list longer than seven names. Be sure to bring a ladder and marker. 
Designer weapons.

I received a very nice haircut from this man.
Someone couldn't wait until they got inside their flat.
A different kind of bus stop.
Jardim do Príncipe Real hosts a nice craft/antique/farmers market on Saturday afternoons.
Vasco da Gama bridge.
Our last destination was Ericeira, a little touristic village on the coast 30 minutes north of Lisbon. 
There were beaches, waves, gusty winds, and sea urchin. Sadly the big swell was a little blown out and not too many waves to be surfed in the surrounding spots. The area is known for some of the best surfing in Europe, and like the Algarve it is surfer's destination. 
The road winding along the coast of the town's center were lined with these mini-boats.  I like the Jewish-Islamist boat. 
Ana claimed this one...the airline charged us the extra baggage fee to bring this back to EG, though it doesn't quite fit in the tub. 
We stayed at Hotel VilAzul and met the owner Luis. Luis has been in the business for quite awhile and is ready to retire. The building has charm, a restaurant, bar, 23 rooms, etc. We were given the grand tour along with the buyout price. Luis is looking to sell asap and hoped we were his saving grace. Ok, which loyal Camels and Tacos reader is ready to uproot and move to Portugal and start something new? Serious inquiries only.
You could go here.
Top view from Hotel VilAzul
The ultimate meat plate, free defibrillator with purchase.
We were fortunate enough to meet up with Sandra (our couch surfer friend we met last year in Lisbon). She took us to A Bica de Sao Pedro for lunch and then for tea at Zen Family in Sintra.
Ana and Sandra with the frog at Parque da Liberdade in Sintra. 
Toilets at Parque da Liberdade.
Best caption wins a fireplace. 
Where Mexicans hope to live in Portugal. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lagos Portugal (Algarve part 2)

If Lagos is the junior version of Portimão or Faro, I think we'll be skipping those in the future. We'll blame curiosity and proximity on how we ended up here.

Lagos center still maintains the looks and charm of a bygone era. Getting lost in its streets was a perfect way to spend a couple of hours. 
Detail of Europe's first slave market built in 1444.
It is all a matter of perspective.
Daring to be different in a city of white buildings.
We were being followed by gypsies, true story. Ana keeping an eye out for them.
The subtext is: welcome Birts and Americans.
Portuguese watch cat.
Skateboarder proof streets.
Need to burn a couple of calories? A stroll around Lagos might do it as long as you stay away from the Irish pubs.
Outside Lagos is Monte da Casteleja, a small organic winery/farm/guest house. The dream/operation was started by Maria and her husband back in the mid 90's. She described the farm in a state of disarray when they took it over. Not only do they rotate crops they even rotate where the chickens live. 
Maria said that many volunteers have helped in making the farm in what it is today. If you have a couple of weeks, months, or whatever she'll gladly trade a place to stay plus food in exchange for your labor. You can reach her at
For a winery, the production output is on the small end. This year's production is at 10,000 bottles. We sampled and bought the Monte da Casteleja Classico 2009 (red) and Maria 2008. The Classico was a heavy hitter with deep and complex flavors thanks to the transplanted bastardo grapes from the Douro region. We have yet to open the Maria 2008.  
Bastard grapes!