Another journey has come full circle and we are once again safely ensconced in our home in Ottawa. The trip from Lisboa to Toronto and then from Toronto to Ottawa was essentially effortless. Everything went as planned, no delays, comfortable, and in terms of driving, nothing to really slow us down. This morning, as we make our coffee and tea, we find ourselves asking each other where things are!!!! Funny what six months away does to the memory.
Before heading home we enjoyed a few days in lovely Lisboa and area. Although Marc and I both came down with a terrible stomach virus in Estoi, I was in good form for Lisboa, Marc, on the other hand, spent two days in bed at the hotel. Happily, our last full day there, we were all in good form.
On the Wednesday Pat and I headed off on an organized tour of Cabo da Rocha (the most westerly point in continental Europe), Sintra and Cascais. We were picked up at the hotel at 8h10 and arrived back at 17h00, worn out but happy from the excursion.
From the village we walked a short distance to the Quinta da Regaleria, which in my opinion, is worth the visit to Sintra. The castle is fun and colourful but this place is a dream to visit both the building and the grounds. I could have spent a long time here.
The building is filled with symbols related to alchemy, Free Masons, Knight’s Templar etc.. In some ways you feel as though you have entered a “magic kingdom”. Lots of walking, which of course I love, but worth every step.
If you are ever fortunate enough to visit this city, make this your first stop and wander as much as you can. It takes a bit of stamina as much is up or down, therefore. save the palace for later and don’t compromise your energy.
From here, a lovely drive to Cabo Da Rocha……it’s not really worth the trip by itself unless you simply want to say you’ve been to the most westerly point in continental Europe, but it was part of our tour.
The final part of our excursion was to Cascais, a coastal resort town in Portugal, just west of Lisbon. It’s known for its sandy beaches and busy marina. Again, pretty to see but for me, much too touristy. We did enjoy a lovely lunch, a brief walkabout then hit the trail for Lisboa.
Overall we enjoyed the day and if you asked me whether or not I would recommend this sort of voyage, I think I would tell you “no”. Instead, take the metro to Sintra, do a little research before you go and enjoy the walk and the views on your own……that way at least you can take the time to enjoy things as long as you like instead of being herded like cattle. All that said, we did enjoy ourselves. And my favourite shot of this particular day……..you will see why!
Our final day in Lisboa was just perfect. It was a bit cooler, which made it wonderful for walking and we had planned to spend a few hours visiting The Lisbon Oceanarium. Turned out to be an excellent decision, we were as appreciative as three little kids we enjoyed it so much. It is located in the Parque das Nações, which was the exhibition grounds for the Expo ’98 and it is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. The design of the interior is quite unique and makes for a fascinating half day of enjoyment. Four tanks around the large central tank house four different habitats with their native flora and fauna: the North Atlantic rocky coast, the Antarctic coastal line, the Temperate Pacific kelp forests, and the Tropical Indian coral reefs. These tanks are separated from the central tank only by large sheets of acrylic to provide the illusion of a single large tank. Throughout the first floor there are an additional 25 thematic aquariums with each of the habitats’ own characteristics. We were giddy with enjoyment.
We took the metro part way home and decided to get off and walk the final few kms to enjoy the city one last time. As it turns out, we stumbled on a marvelous local festival and sat and enjoyed a cold drink and simply people watched for an hour or so.
And so ended our half year living in Portugal. What wonderful memories we all have and how truly blessed we feel. Life now returns to a different routine of sorts, one that is equally as satisfying but in a completely different way.
Marc, in particular, is excited about the next few months as he is having a large exposition here in Ottawa on October 17-20th. He has done lots but still has much to do. If you happen to be or were thinking of being in this area, check out his website and make a note on your calendar. You won’t be disappointed. And please, feel free to share, any and all publicity is appreciated.