Hot times in Portugal and Spain
Another trip is off my bucket list!
I have always wanted to go to Portugal, not sure why, just was always a place I wanted to visit and for the last two weeks I was there soaking in the unbelievably warm weather, taking in the sights and spending some time with my wife, who has been in Luxembourg for the past two years on a teaching contract.
I have been overseas a few times, but never that far south in Europe. I honestly didn’t know what to expect except that it would be very hot. It was all of that, but the scenery was fantastic and the people were so nice.
Charlene and I stayed at a place by the ocean and thankfully we chose that location as the breeze off the water was cooling. Touring around in the villages away from the breeze, one almost melted, but I can’t travel someplace just to sit still. I have to be on the move so for the nine days we were in Portugal we got to see some pretty fascinating things.
One trip was to hop on a bus at 6 in the morning and go east for a couple of hundred kilometres to Seville, Spain. Just as we are approaching the city limits the tour guide says, ‘just so you are prepared, it gets very hot in Seville.’ You have never experienced hot until you are walking around that furnace. It was over 40 C and not a sniff of a breeze. It was so uncomfortable there were times where I thought my lungs were getting seared.
I imagine it is a beautiful city, but with that kind of heat you just can’t move around much and when you do it just isn’t enjoyable. We saw a tomb marking Christopher Columbus, but they say it is one of three around the world so honestly, how do you get excited about something like that when you don’t even know if the guy is there or not. Sort of like Grey Owl! Prince Albert National Park claims the converted Englishman to be a rich part of its heritage, but so does Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba. Things that make you go hmmm!
Back to Portugal! We were on the very southern coast of the country about 30 kilometres west of Faro. Further west of us was the very southwestern point of Europe at the Cape de St. Vincent and we ventured out there in strong winds and bright sunshine one day. Pretty cool knowing you are at the very end of a continent.
Did another tour of small villages and watched a lady make some “firewater,” which in our terms is hooch or screech. Would take the paint off the wall with just a breath I’m sure. The rest of the time was spent walking along the 70 miles of beautiful beaches, watching the tides change twice a day and swimming in the ocean and the hotel pool.
English is a second language in Portugal so communication was absolutely no problem at all. What was really different was the number of different cultures that are there. With Africa just over the horizon to the south of the country and Spain right to the east, there is no shortage of personalities in the region, but the majority of the visitors are still from Great Britain and Germany and with the economy struggling so bad in Europe, apparently the tourist numbers are down, but from where I was standing I couldn’t imagine it getting any busier. That was the biggest surprise for me as I honestly still thought Portugal was a frontier of sorts yet it is one of the most popular destination spots in Europe.
A couple of days in Paris completed the trip and what can you say about Paris. It had been 20 years since I walked around that magnificent city and it still holds that special ambiance. Tourism is doing just fine in Paris and the crowds were at times overwhelming. The line up to go up the Eiffel Tower was two hours long and everywhere you went you experienced those kinds of waits. Still, a wonderful place to visit, but just as nice to leave — way too big for me!
Now it is back to reality and more hot weather. Nice to see the temperature has turned for the better around here. Really nice to have good friends take care of the house too, thanks guys and girls.
Dave Leaderhouse is a reporter with the Daily Herald.