Portugal Adventures and Misadventures

Our visit to Portugal started off with a bang and ended the same way.

When we departed the plane, the local mechanics quickly surrounded one of engines, tools in hand.  The “clangy” sounds it was making gave us a small hint there might be a problem!

Passing the time of day

I’ll start in the countryside away from Lisbon where Art & I began our adventure by adding gasolina or gasoleo (I forget which) to our Volkswagen Polo.  Whatever it was, it was the wrong fuel.  We putted and sputtered our way from service station to service station, slowly replace the incorrect fuel with the correct. Going up hill, (and there are LOTS of hills in Portugal!) we backfired billows of black smoke into the windshields of large tour buses.  I don’t really want to know what they were saying as they followed this tiny, slow, veeerrrrry slow, VW up the hill.  Anyway, by the end of the trip we had finally replaced all the correct fuel so the car was no longer a menace on the roadways.  We turned the Polo  in still running, and felt very fortunate when we sneaked out of the country without having to replace an engine.

We did have some great experiences in the small villages; the people were friendly, especially out in the countryside and up the mountains.  Art spent a whole morning talking to an old fellow who was doing cement work in a church cemetery.  Turns out the old guy couldn’t speak or understand English, and of course the same goes for Art (Portuguese).  But they had a fine visit because both were professionals when it came to laying brick.

We stayed mostly in the Pousadas (historic and charming inns) and thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance.  When in Portugal one does not stay at the chain hotels.

The meals in Portugal were simple, and wonderful.  Their wines aren’t aged all that much, but are the perfect complement with fried fish, fresh-baked bread and home churned butter.  Add just picked tomatoes and cucumbers, one can’t ask for more than that.

Oh yes, our trip ended with a dash to the airport.  We were supposed to return the car to a location in central Lisbon.  Well, the signs were not uniformly displayed, the traffic was awful and we got lost.  At the spur of the moment I recognized a hotel where the car company had a desk.  We dashed in, threw them the keys, grabbed a cab and got to the airport on time – to find the same plane with the “clangy” engine waiting for us!

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