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Portugal – September 2017

I feel like a child coming back from the first school trip.

I am the tile maker, azulejos with different colors and shapes, of the thoughts of tourists, of the Portuguese, of guides, of impressions, of ideas and of drawing; Every piece is poetry, painting, literature, politics.

The first time you visit a country, a city, try to describe it in a few words.

It’s a hard work, if not impossible, the first research is in comparison with other sites, known, known and adding the most or less.

Less green in London, less chaotic than Paris, safer than Amsterdam, more open to gays in Moscow,

with the tendency to generalize, and if you know someone who denies the theory, the whole castle collapses in the air.

A week in Portugal is a taste, Lisbon is a precious jewel to be discovered slowly, an old lady who turns my head even without the glass of Porto at the end of the meal.

I would like to be precise, detailed in telling the trip the places visited, Portuguese dishes, but I can not, I do not want to leave the usual reportage, something different, to read as a story, and I do not know if I can.

Those who decide to plan a trip with other people have a good responsibility, tastes vary, and each trip can be geared to cultural interests, natural surroundings and landscapes, religion, gastronomy, history or anything else.


I have discarded trips from Italy, though they often have great mixes, but when they try to cover an entire nation, they often turn you like a trott without the possibility of enjoying a place in holy peace.

I used to book the flight Ryan Air and I was lucky because the flights were not subject to cancellations. I would recommend booking about two months before not having to pay exorbitant figures, but I think there were not two people on the flight who paid the exact same amount, the extremely low price in the end is a matter of luck and a long time lost in looking for the price best. For the room I had searched on booking which has become a world leader in bookings, the services seem to be the same as the ones offered by the agency because they draw to the same hotels but then I hijacked the searches on Airb & b.

There is an offer for all tastes and I felt like I did not spend a bit, but when in Lisbon I met two Italians in the Salerno area who had spent half. Boh, you always find someone more experienced in bookings, will be next time! The visit period at the end of September was excellent, always in t-shirt, sunny during the day and only a little while in the evening, with temperatures from twelve to twenty-eight degrees.

Flight and landing

In the landing plane I saw Lisbon for the first time; this went to the ocean and then passed over the statue of Christ Rei, it seems to watch the XXV Aprile bridge and the river Tejo.

Lisbon is divided by the River Tejo, the airport and city center are in the largest and densely populated part.

To get to the apartment I thought to use the navigator, since I also have the internet line on the smartphone in Portugal, then put the public transport option and check which subway and bus stops but after a couple of attempts, I I surrendered and took the taxi, which brought me right in front of the house.

The district of Bairro Alto (the name says it) has a wonderful view. A young Portuguese with a good english shows me the flat on the fourth floor with elevator and explains how I should do to return the keys at the end of the week, how to use satellite television, the operation of the kitchen I will not use.

Volcanic area

Lisbon was destroyed by a severe earthquake in 1755, the island of Madeira and most of Portugal’s territory are of volcanic origin. In particular, Sintra, a city about twenty-five kilometers from Lisbon has very fertile soils and is a real garden.

The sweets

In Lisbon you can roam by tasting the birthday pastel, are fantastic breakfast pastries, but also to enjoy at any time of the day, like ours. There are museums of all kinds, and those who prefer to stay in the city for a few days can do the lisboa card and this allows you to use all the means of transport in the city and surroundings and other discount tourist attractions. A pastry in addition to the birthday pastel also produced sweets on nun recipes, a delicacy.



Museums and monasteries

One of the museums worthy of note is the Azulejos Museum, to name them in a few words I can say that they are beauty tassels and I do not add anything else. The Belem carriages museum with pieces from other nations such as the French and Italian carriages, are works of art, real homes traveling with real and rudimentary decorations for comfort.

The Mosteiro de Jeronimo in Belem is another jewel to be missed, as well as the Belem Tower.

I do not want to go anymore, guides me with more complete descriptions.
Monastery of Batalha is the first nucleus of Dominican monks, built in Gothic style



The “ring” tour

I chose not to rent a car for this first tour in Portugal, limited to the Lisbon area, though it included Cabo de Roca, Cascais, Sintra and other Estramadura countries.

Lisboa Card includes train trips to Cascais and Sintra, and there is even a bus linking these two cities, so one day you can visit Lisbon – Cascais – Capo de Roca – Sintra – Lisbon; here is the ring round!

There are trains every twenty minutes for both Sintra and Cascais, departing from the subway stations of Cais de Sodre and Rossio. A do-it-yourself tour with excellent results.

Young Portuguese

They all speak very good English, unlike the middle-aged people who have difficulty with the French, for the Italian then, only in the restaurants!

A Portuguese girl accompanies me to a restaurant I’m referring to, she reports her impressions about her city, informs me that a few days ago there was a demonstration of the inhabitants for the excessive rise in prices in Lisbon, caused by the huge inflow tourist.

We speak in English, and I explain that the law of supply and demand is not by now, Keynes wrote it long ago. All in time can change; states, governments are trying to rewrite the rules of the economy, common efforts are needed, shared, is not easy.

On a train trip to Cascais I meet a young man, ask for information on buses from Cascais to Sintra and point out to me that his navigator indicates a different bus than that of my navigator.

Only then did I understand that the navigator can be set in different ways, and … I learned to use it! Mistakes in something are needed. With the latter we have even become friends on facebook!

Swiss couple

A couple of Swiss people looking for the “buen retiro” are trying to live, they are happy, but they feel crushed by bureaucracy, even in Portugal it does not joke.

They tell me they had asked for a reduced fare for the train, they decided to stay for a month in a country near Cascais, but the discount authorization came after fifteen days and they have not used it anymore.

The Swiss are in the canton of Ticino, an area invaded every day by more than 70,000 frontiers, accepting to work at three thousand euros a month, are preferred to the Swiss.

A Swiss can not get to the bottom of the month with three thousand euros. Each country costs its own.

In Portugal with a thousand euros living big, they rented a villa with this figure. It is obvious that they can afford it.

Sintra, again

On the ring tour I had seen in Sintra the Palacio de Pena, but it was not enough, I went back to visit another tourist attraction: Quinta de Regaleira

The train to Sintra is made up of street musicians and guitar, tambourine and accordion play pieces well known, the ticket for Sintra costs 4.40 euros and with the live music show it seems like the most ridiculous price. They go for the tip, they can not deny it.

Sintra seems to live only with tourism with its villas and palaces, surreal residences like that of the Fifth of the Regaleira.

The visit to the beautiful residence takes at least two and a half hours, but it is worth it.

After the embrace of the old lady the dive in the green of Sintra is an unexpected ecstasy.
Sintra – Quinta de Regaleira details of the park




Weak and flee

During the week of visits to Lisbon and surroundings I used one of those “bites and escape” trips was not in Italian, but in Portuguese and French. As far as I understand the company is the same as the red buses and discovered Sightseeing that animate many European cities.

I happened accidentally at a red bus terminal and asked for information about the services.

On the brochure there were the various offers and I was attracted to one of these “Fatima FD” (full day) with a visit to Obidos, Batalha, Alcobaça, Nazarè, Fatima. The only neo were the driving languages, with two buses with Spanish-English guide and the other with Portuguese-French guide, but nothing in Italian.

Portuguese is different from Spanish, has something in common, but it is understood more difficult; the French I understand enough, and with the two languages ​​at last something came from the explanations of the guide.


One evening in the lobbing for Lisbon I see a bar and showcase exposed thirty hams hanging, strange a bar with hams! I put it in and wonder why the form and why are small, much smaller than the Italian ones.

Ham in Portuguese is said to be “presumed”, they tell me that they are pig hogs slaughtered within two years and that they are treated with smoked, their company sends them to Spain for the smoker process, then the drying and seasoning salad for a minimum of ten months. The flavor is delicate and aromatic, along with the Spanish hams are considered the best in the world.


For shifts within Lisbon, the subway is convenient and fast, with five lines also touching peripheral areas and places of greatest interest.

I used it to go to Belem and at the East stop for Naçoes Park, Oceanarium.

Lisbon has many hills and in the high parts of the subway it does not go, here is the need to take the yellow trams and it is routes trained by tourists in a rushing between narrow streets and steep climbs. The advice of using the Viagem card is to make a daily $ 6.15, with this modicum you can take any type of tram or bus, and even trains.


In the city I was able to appreciate the police, present in the subway, crossroads, in the chat with Italians met at the restaurant knowing that Lisbon is one of the safest cities in Europe, but also for cleaning does not joke, you do not see dirty on the ground, there are no dumpsters, as if the rubbish went autonomously towards a dump or waste-to-energy plant.

You feel a careful check with those who are not in the rules, for example, cars parked in forbidden areas apply jaws and a tape with prayer to pay immediately the figure of 30 euros otherwise they take away the car.



Another interesting sign is the ban on feeding the pigeons, I have read it and it seems to me

having understood that the contravent’s will be penalized by one fifth of the salary, so it is not a fixed fine, but it goes according to the income of those who go to give it to eat.

You never end up learning!



So my way of visiting Portugal was to taste it, like delicious dishes, tasting only a few tablespoons on the surface.

I will leave it next time, I hope to find it intact.


P.S. il post in italiano è nel blog  http://www.oichebelcastello.it



Autore: rfrancalanci

Innanzitutto mi presento : sono uno dei tanti ultracinquantenni che con le leggi di venti anni fa sarebbero già andati in pensione ed invece con le odierne leggi dovranno lavorare (se ci sarà lavoro) altri dieci anni come minimo. Non mi fa paura lavorare, solo mi rende triste dover rimanere inattivo, perché ovunque mi rivolgo tutti mi dicono che “non è compito nostro far lavorare i dipendenti in cassa integrazione o in contratto di solidarietà” Così me ne ritorno a casa mesto, ben conscio che quel barile al quale tutti attingono un bel giorno finirà se non finisce questa crisi, e allora saranno dolori per tutti. I miei genitori e nonni nel periodo post-bellico hanno vissuto veri momenti di solidarietà e di condivisione, non per questo se avete occasione di parlare con qualcuno che ha vissuto quei momenti vi dirà che tutto sommato erano momenti duri, ma felici. Sono nato intorno agli anni sessanta, quando l'Italia era in pieno boom economico e ancora in fase di ricostruzione dopo la seconda guerra mondiale, i padri e le madri in quel periodo cercavano di crescere i figli in condizioni migliori di quelle in cui loro stessi erano cresciuti, il benessere incominciava anche in Italia e con esso l'egoismo, lentamente si insinuava nel comportamento dell'italiano medio. Il danno maggiore alla società odierna comunque è l'introduzione di modelli vincenti verso i quali i giovani sono stati stimolati dai mass-media e dalle dinamiche di gruppo, per semplificare vorrei evidenziare che il modello del “furbo” ci è stato fatto digerire come “sempre vincente” Viene da chiedersi se dobbiamo introdurre un nuovo modello di riferimento, e ora che la rete ci permette di conoscere in quali paesi del mondo secondo noi la vita è migliore, sta a noi poi scegliere a quale ambire , se per es. è migliore la Svezia, o gli Stati Uniti o forse il Buthan, e subito dopo aver pensato globalmente, agire localmente. Credo che "oichebelcastello !" sia un ottima modalità per agire localmente, anche a molti farà sorridere nel ricordare il ritornello della canzoncina intonata agli amici non appena avevamo finito di costruire il nostro castello di sabbia.


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