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Portugal is a great place to visit: interesting, full of attractions and cheap.  We spent an enjoyable week there.  Our two major stops were Lisbon and Porto, (plus the beautiful countryside in between), and both are well worth a visit.

Porto in particular is off the radar for most tourists but it’s a beautiful city and a really great place to walk around or simply chill out with a wine or a coffee, (or a port!!??) and watch the world go by.

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In Lisbon, head for the main city square and for Belem and in Porto, go across the upper level of the 2-level bridge to the monastery on the other side for spectacular views.  Also check out along the river.

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Some random reflections on Portugal:

*  Every café is also a pub.

*  Sections of Lisbon are in severe need of renovation.

*  Porto is a beautiful city.

*  Porto is famous for its port (the drinking variety) and you should drink some port in Porto.

*  The local specialty dish, Francesinha, with layers of meat, cheese and sausage in a beery sauce, is delicious heart attack material.

*  The bookstore that inspired the stairs in Harry Potter, in Porto, is stunning, ranked 2nd in the world apparently.

*  No wonder Vasco da Gama prayed all night before his famous voyage: it’s a big ocean out there!

*  The Catholic church has always had plenty of money.

*  Superbock is Portuguese for beer.

*  Cork is a major industry in Portugal so they still use corks in all their wine bottles.  But Cork is in Ireland.  Go figure.

*  If a beer costs 1 euro in a bar, you can’t afford NOT to drink.

*  There is no shortage of places to sit down to eat or drink.

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*  The queue for the local pastries in Belem is longer than it deserves to be.

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*  When the Portuguese speak English they sound like Russians.

*  They use a lot of tiling on their buildings, even through one entire Metro station.

*  If a can of beer costs 35 cents including the 23% government tax, I wonder how much the brewer makes?

*  The Portuguese are not afraid to hang out their washing on their balconies.

*  Pastries are popular in Portugal.

*  There is still evidence that Portugal was once one of the greatest nations on Earth.

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