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Madrid to Portugal

Walking tours of Madrid, Art Gallery perusal, ancient Segovian aqueducts and castles, plus drinking Port in Porto and a whirlwind tour of Lisbon...

sunny 26 °C
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We travelled by overnight bus to Porto in Portugal - 8 hours traveling, but lucky to get 4 hours sleep. This was despite trying to exhaust ourselves in Madrid the day before, conquering both the Reina Sofia art gallery for 3 hours, then Fi went out to Segovia in the afternoon.

The Reina Sofia is a modern art museum, most famous for holding Picasso´s Guernica piece, and lots of surrealist Dali work. I don´t know much about art - but these two crazy artists are definitely my favourite so I was super excited to go. It was a really good exhibition - showing the progress of these guys work, from early days portraits (pretty standard) into the art they became famous for - some of it bizarrely minimalist - eg another cool artist called Miro (similar style to Picasso) last few works were giant canvasses with nothing more than a couple of black dots?! Thats art?!
Nick liked Luna, an artist who did many wartime pieces (ww2) in black pen only, just thousands of lines in so much detail it was jaw-dropping.

We also did a walking tour of Madrid which made us fall in love with this city - rumour had it that Madrid was missable, but we found it anything but! A clean modern city with plenty of character, the "oldest door in europe" a street called "fist in the face" street, the largest palace in Europe, and free tapas with drinks if you know where to go. Again I was fascinated and astounded by the turbulent recent history - cruel dictators ruling up until near the time I was born? Its hard to believe. They say this is why Spain has such a festive feel about it now - enjoying their freedom...

Segovia is an ancient city an hour out of Madrid, and its famous for its aqueduct and castle and cathedral - all very impressive. Most impressive however was the torrential downpour that descended upon us just before we left - we got completely saturated!

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the aqueducts of Segovia

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The castle with stormy skies

Oporto
Our first impression of Portugal was how wonderfully helpful and lovely the Portuguese are - but then again we did arrive at 6am on a Saturday morning - we were catching everyone on their way home from a big night out! Famous for port and chicken, we really wanted to visit to taste the port, despite not having much time. We were exhausted, but still managed to see the sights and get the feel of this beautiful, but gritty city. The port was pretty good - you got to do free tastings along the river where the warehouses were, and we did a tour of one - the most well known - Sandemans. Awesome advertising, and the best of the ports we tasted. But not as good as Aussie port!

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The cellars of Sandemans

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View of Porto, old town

Portuguese architecture seems quite different to Spanish - purely in that they cover all their outdoor walls in tiles, which makes for very pretty contrasts among the houses along the streets.

Lisbon
We are staying in the coolest hostel - what a view! we are on the major square and have the castle on the hill in the background. Awesome! This afternoon we toured the castle, and took a tram (just like ours) through the hilly cobbled narrow streets of the old town - just beautiful! you could reach out the window of the tram and run your hand along the walls.

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at the castle in Lisbon

We also went to a district called Belem to visit its Monastery (which closed two minutes before we got there, bugger). This little part of town was also know for its custard tarts - some say the best in Portugal. And you should have seen the line out the door! They were amazing - puff party base which was sweet and crispy. hmmmm.

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The eating of the custard tarts. freaking tasty

Going to try and catch a Fado show tonight after dinner at the hostel, then will check out Sintra tomorrow, before heading down to Lagos for more beach time.

more photos on flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/27613924@N06/

Posted by hutchie 12:46 Archived in Portugal

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