Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Portugal trip 2012

Walking along the ocean in Madeira
In the spirit of our yearly European trip, we (and by we, I mean mostly me) planned and researched, and reviewed and investigated places to travel to. We decided on Portugal. Why? Well we had always wanted to go to Spain, but that is in a lot of turmoil right now, however we had always heard that Mike's grandfather, Papu, enjoyed Portugal. This summer I booked most of the trip and got everything in order. As I will describe, we had some bumps along the way, but in the end we had an amazing time and ate some really wonderful food. We both agree that the quality of the food throughout the trip was very consistent and high. 
Sunset over the north side of Madeira island
The schedule was to leave from Chicago, where we would be the weekend before hand with family, and travel to Madeira, an island colony off of the north of Africa for 4 days. We would then go back to the mainland and stay in Lagos, on the south coast of Portugal for another 4 days. Finally we would stay in the capital of Lisbon for the remaining 2 full days.   
View from our hotel
The bumps started a day before I left to join Mike in Chicago. I received an email that the third party company I had booked our hotel through (at this point I didn't even realize I hadn't booked through the actual hotel) had gone into bankruptcy and if we wanted to stay an our hotel, we would need to rebook and repay the full cost. Needless to say, I was very upset. We figured it was best to agree to the charge and get the payment back through our credit card. Worst case scenario we would be out some money, but still have a place to stay when we arrived with an upgraded room (since the hotel was very apologetic about the whole situation) 
First walk along the ocean
We flew through CDG Paris to Lisbon, where we found out that our bags had not made the connection and wouldn't make the flight to the island. Ok, second bump. 

Getting ready for dinner.... with new clothes since our bags never made it
Arriving into Madeira in the mid-afternoon, we spoke to the cab driver who agreed to take us on some tours in the coming week. We found the hotel and attempted to stay awake after the overnight flight. Thank goodness Delta perks got us into Business Class so we could get some sleep. But still no bags. We walked around the area and went to a restaurant for dinner with a ok food and a great view. We got back to the hotel to... still no bags. By 11:00pm the front desk called and said one of our bags had arrived. Unfortunately for Mike, it was my bag that arrived. 

Overlooking Funchal
Downtown Funchal
The next morning we took a day trip into Funchal. We did a little shopping, took the cable cars up to a Tropical Gardens, missed the first scheduled cab back to the hotel (third bump), but discovered a wonderful shellfish called Limpets because of it. 
Tropical gardens
1000 year old Olive Trees
Pictures of our travels through Funchal: Gardens, Cable car, Horse Fountain, Painted Door



Bolo (fried garlic bread) - a staple of Madeira
Getting back to the hotel that evening.... still no bag for Mike. Uh oh, fourth bump. We decided to get him a bunch of backup clothes since we still needed to go to dinner and he had been wearing the same clothes for 50+ hrs. We were just hoping that the bag would come in time for our hiking trip the next day. 
We went to the mall across the street and 20 minutes later returned to the hotel with.... Mike's bag waiting for us.
Fresh Mussels
Grilled Sardines

Grilled Limpets
We went out to dinner at an amazing place we happened to walk past and look up on TripAdvisor. They had a Mixed Fish on the Stone dish that was so good, we went back two nights later. The 'stone' is basically a super heated cast iron block that they sear the fish on in front of you. We had the mixed fish, which included salmon, octopus, swordfish, cod, and other local varieties. A very good find and evening, for a semi-rough start to the vacation :)  

Fish on the Stone and Steak Skewer at Real Canoa in Madeira

1 comment:

Run Lori Run said...

Amazing. I'm bookmarking this for when we plan out trip!