Portugal was never on my “places to visit” list. But here we are! Deric had a conference in Portugal he had to attend, so he extended his stay, we tagged along, and voila! a vacation was born! Were we crazy to travel with a 15-month-old baby?! Maybe… but 90% of the trip was smooth sailing, and he forced us to slow down our pace and really relax.
We began in the town of Guimaraes, in the northern half of Portugal.
Small town, but all the modern conveniences of a large one.
I know this because I spent a great deal of time at the mall with the baby (buying milk), which was a 2 minute walk from our hotel room. Just like an American mall, but better! It had the equivalent of a Super-Wal-Mart in the mall! complete with sloped, straight escalators that would take you and your shopping cart to the next floor, just in case you decided you needed to stop by the Gap for some jeans after you bought 20 lbs of beef on sale.
I managed not to buy any clothing or accessories while I was there, but I did enjoy some local fare at the food court. When Deric was through with his conference for the day, we would go out to grab a bite for dinner.
One night we bravely dined at a 2nd floor restaurant that was next to empty. And it was at this bustling establishment that I decided to sample some local fare.
So I ordered the octopus, boiled. Hm, rookie mistake. Octopus is delicate, requires an experienced hand. But not the hand that boiled my octopus, then chopped it into 1-inch pieces and paired it with potatoes… boiled no less. Fail. Picture of this meal was not taken. Deric however made off just fine with the viking-sized helping of 3 pork chops!
While I obviously passed over the finest culinary corners of Guimaraes, the spectacular medieval castle was not to be missed! It was something out of storybooks! The kind you read when you’re little, too little to know that fairy tales aren’t usually true, and castles were probably really cold and drafty.
Deric stayed with the baby, and I scrambled around, peeking through each window, envisioning the brave knights (in tights) with their arrows poised, ready to shoot at the bad guys through the tiny slits in the castle walls. Perhaps there was even some Shakespeare recitation down to my Romeo.. much to his bemusement? and amusement of a German tour group.
Unfortunately, our stay in Guimaraes ended with jet-lag catching up to our baby. He cried inconsolably, every hour, on the hour, from 9pm – 2am. Exhausting. He didn’t even pull that kind of stunt when he was a newborn!
But joy came with the morning! And he was as happy as a clam in his blue footie-pajamas on the train to Lisbon!
Want to see more? Look here for pictures of Lisbon and here for a food diary of what we ate :) Enjoy!