Portugal, condensed, sort of

Greg (aka “the SO”) and I visited Portugal for a week and a half over the Christmas/New Years holidays. I have just uploaded 75 photos for this blog and have little sense of how to keep you interested in them. My initial thought is to just caption them and let the photos tell the rest, so here goes…

welcome wing

Meet my newest favorite international airline. Aer Lingus has great employees, on-time service, comfortable seats and…good food! Who knew? Oh yeah, and the price was so right!

All of the photos have explanatory notes. Hover over lower edge of the photo, then click on the text to start browsing and reading the captions.

The Lay of the Land



Sintra is a small town about 40 minutes by train from Lisbon. It features a couple of palaces and a castle, occupied over centuries dating back to the 1500’s–earlier if you want to count the Moors who held court there before the Crusaders arrived in 1147. The town itself is super-picturesque and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We only visited one palace, the Palacio Nacional da Pena, but that took up several hours!

Here’s a little video of the kitchen in the palace–L-O-V-E this kitchen, but would need a big staff to keep it going!


Museum Hopping

There are so many museums of all types in and around Lisbon that you could spend a lifetime and not see them all. We got totally “museum-ed”-out but here are a few of the highlights. First we had to get to Belem, a short bus ride from our Lisbon BnB.

The MAAT is a really new museum–it opened in 2016–designed pretty much without any right angles. I shot this video from underneath a huge net full of discarded ocean trash which was created by Tadashi Kawamata to draw attention to the proliferation of plastic debris in our oceans. This enormous round space holds various temporary exhibits but this one is especially impressive for the way it makes its statement.


Just for neon freaks

Since Greg is a neon artist, he took particular note of what seemed to us to be an unusual quantity of neon lighting on Lisbon streets and even in the museums. So here’s a smaller assortment of what we found and why we thought much of it was rather oddly constructed, at least by USA standards.

The neon below was the title of the China-Portugal contemporary art exhibit at the Berardo, some of which appeared in the museum section above. “Saudade” doesn’t have a direct translation from Portuguese, but it refers to a Portuguese state of mind or soul which generally conveys a desire for a past moment that may be forever unattainable. It is the central feature of Portugal’s famous fado music. More on that in a bit. Here’s the sign that introduced the Chinese/Portuguese art.


Odd & Ends

It’s probably a good idea after all this serious stuff to end on a somewhat light note. In that spirit, the rest of this blog will present a short mish-mash of stuff we found entertaining, worthy of a little spoofing, or just making fun of ourselves as tourists.


And Fado

We debated what seemed like forever before we finally accidentally came upon a Yelp! rating for a fado bar that seemed to be just right. There were so many complaints about it not having good food, or not having much space, or having surly staff, or shushing people who talked during a performance, that we immediately agreed that it probably was not a typical tourist joint and that we might actually get to hear something genuine. WE WERE RIGHT!!! The performers are not necessarily professional at this place, but they are real. They understand the “saudade” I mentioned earlier, and sing of their personal despair in a way only a genuine soul-seeker can. One of them was so extraordinary that I doubt we will ever find his equal again. We listened to a lot of recording by famous fado “stars” before we took the trip, and this guy was in a class all by himself. We were so lucky to experience this, and also so lucky to recognize it as truly extraordinary.


About Alli Farkas

Equine and landscape artist specializing in rural Americana
This entry was posted in art, horses, museums, Portugal, random thoughts, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Portugal, condensed, sort of

  1. Jan Fed says:

    Ali…looks like it was a really special trip….great photos…and documentation…would have loved to see something of the Portuguese school (no photography! ).

    How ever did you decide on this particular trip?

    miss you, Jan Fed

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alli Farkas says:

      It was all Greg’s idea. We were originally planning on Cuba until the current government made it a lot harder and a lot more expensive to get there. He’d been reading something about Portugal that inspired him to undertake in-depth study of its history and national “personality”, after which he became consumed by the idea of going there…


  2. Jean Fargo says:

    Loved both photos and your comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom Gerken says:

    Looks like you have found a new job – travel media- if you wish. Great job!


    • Alli Farkas says:

      Glad you enjoyed our travels–kind of a long way from Ohio! I only write travel posts maybe every couple of years, mostly because sorting everything out and trying to make it interesting leaves my brain fried…😂


  4. Emma Cownie says:

    Looks wonderful – I especially like the architecture and colours of Sintra.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alli Farkas says:

      The architecture and the colors vary depending on what part of the many-times rebuilt palace you’re looking at.The whole thing isn’t even completely restored, and it’s gigantic (in case you didn’t get that impression from the photos LOL!).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you very much for your wunderful impressions of Portugal. We plan to visit Portugal in the coming springtime with our campervan. We are a gay couple and a little pug.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alli Farkas says:

      Spring is the ideal time to visit Portugal. Weather is better than winter or summer, and not too many tourists yet. You will love it! The only downside, for you anyway, is that it will be tricky to find parking for your large camper if you visit Lisbon–although it can be done. Probably best to park in the suburbs and take a train/bus to see the city. Transportation within Lisbon is excellent.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Outosego says:

    Great article, thank you Alli ! Scroll me down > https://outosegoscroll.wordpress.com/


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