Last night’s sunset in Aljezur. We left Sintra by train yesterday, arriving in downtown Lisbon to rent a car – a Mercedes van, no less. We crossed the Vasco de Gama bridge on our way south out of the city, as Alex read about the legendary Portuguese explorer’s own exploits around the world. As you know, and I learned yesterday, he was the first European to arrive in India, paving the way for Portugal’s domination of the exploration and colonization businesses of the 16th Century. And, by a very, VERY long extension, our own exploits there in a couple of months.
Portugal reminds me of California in many ways. The hills of Sintra were filled with salty fog for most of our stay; eucalyptus and cypress trees add to the feel of Monterey. If Monterey had really sweet castles.
As we headed south of Lisbon, things got hot and dry and hilly again. The cypress trees were replaced by pines and oaks, similar to Sonoma or the Sierra foothills. Hippies and surfers are everywhere. We arrived in Aljezur and turned west for the coast and our rental house. The trees thinned and the land began to resemble Point Reyes, and the mental picture that I have of Australia. Where a California Mission would be, Aljezur has its own hilltop castle, believed to have been inhabited since the Iron Age. I am so dragging the kids there and, together, we will learn when the Iron Age was.
William and I hustled to rent surfboards and wetsuits in town last night before the shop closed and I’m glad we did. Arrifana is a dramatic but very popular beach just a few minutes from the house, but Holly, William, and I were able to get in the waves by 8:30 this morning for a couple of hours before the hordes arrived (Huge thanks to Alex and Coco and Phoebe for going the market and fish store while we surfed! Sardines and sausage for din tonight). Lots of fun and we’ll all head back to the beach for a pre-dinner outing this eve. The crowds should have thinned by then.
We will be in New Zealand later in this trip and several people have warned us that we won’t want to leave. I already have a strong suspicion that Aljezur may beat NZ to that punch.
For the sake of symmetry, here is this morning’s sunrise: