The Best Of Portugal, Part Dois

by Johnny

So, where were we?  Ah, yes.  Well, after drinking half of the port in the Douro Valley…

We woke up and enjoyed the last couple of hours in our amazing hotel.  It’s probably one of the nicest places Anna and I will stay on our entire trip.  We didn’t let leaving the beautiful Douro Valley get us too upset, though, because we had big plans for the evening.  Big plans.  We were going to a Benfica fútbol match.  Goose and Kick are Benfica fanatics, and tonight the team was playing against Trabzonspor from Turkey in a Champions League playoff.  I don’t pretend to know a lot about the sport of soccer (actually I feel like Eddie Murphy talking about football in “Coming to America”), but I do know it’s kinda a big deal in Europe.  After a quick pit stop in Lisbon, we all loaded into Kick’s car and headed to the stadium.  The game, err match, was intense!  The crowd seemed to get more excited when the referee would blow a call than when the team did something good, and Goose taught me just enough Portuguese curse words to join in the fun.  After a slow first half, Benfica picked it up in the second half to win 2-0.  Our first European fútbol match was a success!

Goose’s Graceland
Benfica babes GOOAAALLLL!!!

After the Benfica match we drove to Troia, a long cape near Lisbon where Kick’s parents have a vacation home and where many people from Lisbon come for a weekend break from the city.  We got some perfect weather, so we spent a full day on the beach sipping on Super Bocks and caiparinhas.  We needed a relaxing day after our whirlwind tour of the Douro Valley.  That night we went to a really cool restaurant right down the road called Museo do Arroz (Rice Museum), which had great views of the rice paddies outside and where Sarah got the best grilled octopus of the trip.  So what are two Portuguese dudes and three gringos supposed to do in Troia on a Thursday night?  You guessed it, play Portuguese Pictionary.  The wine was flowing at Kick’s place, and Pictionary quickly turned into a hilarious game of charades.  Team John-Goose may have dominated, but everybody woke up with sore abs from laughing so hard.

View from Kick’s balcony
The best thing Portugal brought back from Brazil The second best thing Portugal brought back from Brazil
Nap time on Troia beach
Museo do Arroz Inside of Museo do Arroz
Portuguese charades…no comment You can’t teach this level of passion

FRIDAY, 7/29
We made our way back to Lisbon from Troia via the ferry, which gave us some pretty awesome views of the city.  That afternoon, Goose was meeting his grandma for lunch, so Sarah, Anna and I spent a few hours exploring Lisbon’s old town on foot.  We wandered around the Barrio Alto’s colorful streets before trekking up to the São Jorge castle to take in the views of the city.  From the castle’s rampart walls, you can really see how unique Lisbon is with its seven hills and different neighborhoods.  That night we had another great BBQ downstairs at Pedro and Marta’s place.

Troia ferry Troia ferry
The entrance to Lisbon’s old city from Praça do Comércio
Lisbon’s cable cars View of the city from São Jorge castle

Today Goose’s dad Flavio and his wife Virginia were hosting a big family lunch at their house, something Anna and I were looking forward to the entire week.  Their place was incredible.  It used to be some sort of African embassy or government building or something and a ton of the original African artwork is still left throughout the house.  On the very top floor they have a huge ballroom with views of the city and bridge.  Each week, a dancing instructor comes to the house and Flavio and Virginia invite all their friends to come over for ballroom dancing lessons.

View from Flavio and Virginia’s balcony
Ballroom African art

Goose’s whole family came over for a swim and a traditional Portuguese lunch.  We had a delicious, simple green salad and some salted codfish baked with olive oil, egg, potatoes and onions.  And being in Portugal, we had a ton of homemade pastries to chose from for dessert.

Salad and baked cod Chocolate cake, rice pudding and “hamburger pastry”
Clockwise: Little Pedro, Nuno, Kick, Marta, Pedro, Virginia, Flavio, Anna, Goose, Sarah, Martin, Veronica

That night we headed over to the local artisanal fair, which Goose assured us was a very Portuguese thing to do.  The fair was lined with stalls selling handmade crafts, furniture, clothing, etc., and a ton of restaurants selling traditional Portuguese food.  There was also a stage for live music, which was a nice treat.  After another great meal with our new friends we made our way home, but not before picking up a fartura, aka the best churro in the history of the earth.

Entrance to the fair
Johnny, Anna and Pedro Marta, Sarah, Goose, Goose’s snails
Fartura, the greatest churro of all times

Sarah and Goose left the next morning (boo!), and we were definitely sad to see them go.  It made us realize how much we miss our family and friends back home.  So you…yeah you reading this blog and not leaving any comments…start planning a trip to meet us somewhere, anywhere!

We can’t thank Goose and his family enough for their hospitality.  Goose basically took his precious vacation time to come to back to Portugal and drive us gringos around his home country for a week.  And his brother Pedro and his girlfriend Marta let us stay a couple extra nights at their place so we could catch up on some emails, laundry, budget, etc.  Marta even left work to take us to the train station on our last day.  They definitely have a place to stay if they ever come to Balboa Island!  We loved Portugal.  We’ll always remember the beautiful landscapes, unique history and tasty food, but more importantly we’re most grateful for all the people we met and the new friends we made.  Obrigado!


3 Comments to “The Best Of Portugal, Part Dois”

  1. Great report. Staying with locals really is the best way to experience a country, and you apparently lived both the local and the tourist life. Too bad it doesn’t seem you made it to Sintra. It’s a magical place and somewhere to return next time 🙂

  2. So, all of these Portuguese posts make me ridiculously happy that we had 9 days together to tear up the country! Although, when Johnny and the boys were buying their Farturas, Anna and I were looking at hand-painted trays and bowls, and the owner of the little shop told us that he “keeps four women in his house to produce these pieces from dusk til dawn.” Red flag! Once the slave driver busted out the photo album to show us kept women/workforce/forced workers, we hauled ass out of there and nobody left one single Fartura for us.

    As for Portuguese charades, I declare best night ever. Except when the Carmelowood team had to act out words like “computer”, “woman”, and “scissors”, their victory was much more easily reached when stacked up against team KickFinchBark who drew cards including “road map”, “I’ll be right back” and “Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.”

    I declare the match was rigged and I won’t accept defeat. Bring it on!

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