It is great fun to read John Murray’s “Handbook for Travellers in Portugal,” published in London in 1864. He warns that, to explore far-distant valleys, hills, and mountains, the tourist in Portugal “must be prepared for poor accommodation, poor food, and great fatigue.” But, at the same time, “to one who is in pursuit of scenery, more especially to the artist, no other country in Europe can possess such attractions and such freshness of unexplored beauty.”
So much has changed in the last 150 years! You can now travel throughout Portugal in great comfort, eating delicious food, and staying in elegant hotels, pousadas and bed and breakfasts. But, what remains unchanged, is the freshness of the country’s beauty. Take a look!
Americans discovered France, Italy, and more recently,
Spain, as vacation destinations. But Portugal has remained terra incognita. That is changing. The New York Times has written a steady stream of articles about Portugal. Most are about Lisbon; about the places to go, the culinary renaissance, the new restaurants, the new museums, the relaxed atmosphere, and the art scene. But the Times has also discovered Cascais and Évora. The Wall Street Journal tells its readers that “In Portugal you can pack seven days worth of castles, clubbing, seafood, shopping and luxury hotels into one perfectly affordable long weekend.” Now, perhaps Woody Allen will consider directing a movie about a writer who comes to Lisbon and discovers that the secret to eternal youth is a daily bath of piri-piri sauce.
During beach vacations life follows the rhythm of the tides. Low tide is the best time to walk on the hard, moist sea sand. The sun and the moon regulate the tides with designs that only physicists understand. Luckily, Portugal’s Ocean Institute publishes tide tables, so we don’t have to study physics to know the perfect time to walk on the beach.
Click here to see the tide tables.