Portugal with Rich Earl | Rick Steves Travel Talks

Portugal with Rich Earl | Rick Steves Travel Talks


[music] [applause] Rich: Hi guys. Thank you, welcome. Bom dia, as they say in Portuguese. My name is Rich, I work here at
Rick Steves as a travel consultant. I help a lot of independent travelers
plan their trips to Europe. I also have done book
research in Portugal several times and traveled there
independently quite a bit. I know Portugal really well and
it’s one of my favorite spots. People often ask me, “What’s
your favorite place in Europe? I have to say it’s
hard to pick just one. Portugal is definitely in the
top two or three I would say. People often say, “Why
Portugal?” “What’s so great about Portugal?”
I would say why not Portugal, what’s not
great about Portugal? There’s so many great
things about Portugal. I’ll talk about that during this talk
and show you guys some pictures and hopefully get you
excited to go to one of my favorite travel destinations. Most of you probably already
know where Portugal is located. It’s in the far southwest
corner of Europe. It’s surrounded actually on
two sides, the north and the east by Spain and on the west
and the south by the sea. It’s pretty geographically
isolated from the rest of Europe. It has some common history
with Spain but one thing I will say is,
Portugal is not Spain. I’m going to repeat that,
Portugal is not Spain. If you go to Portugal and
you speak Spanish, you will not impress Portuguese
people by speaking Spanish. If you come across somebody in
the countryside or at a store who doesn’t speak any English
then if you speak Spanish you can ask them, “Do you speak
Spanish?” Almost every Portuguese person will understand Spanish
if they don’t even speak it. Then you can go into Spanish,
but you’ll get a lot further actually in Portugal
by speaking English. Portugal has a very long
relationship with Great Britain. They actually have the longest
alliance in the world mostly due to their mutual
dislike of the Spanish. [laughter] There’s a lot of British
people that go to Portugal. A lot of Brits will
winter in Portugal especially in the south
on the Algarve Coast and all the port wine
lodges in the north in Porto are actually
owned by Brits. Portugal is actually
a fairly small country. It’s about 35,000 square miles. About the size and shape of Indiana. You could actually drive
from the far north up here near the Spanish
border all the way down to the Algarve
Coast in about six and half hours if you drive
straight through. If you’re coming from
Spain here in the east and you would
drive all the way to the little tip, Sagres
in the southwest corner, that’s about
two and half hours. It’s a relatively small
geographic area. Lisbon, the capital,
is the largest city. That’s where a great deal
of the population lives. Then the second biggest
city is Porto in the north. There’s also quite a bit
of variation in territory. The north part of the
country is pretty mountainous and green,
little more wet. The south is a little more dry
especially in the summer time. One of the things I really like
about Portugal is the landscape. It’s a beautiful country. In the north, you have the Douro
Valley with these old terraced hillsides, wine grapes, they’ve
grown wine here since Roman times. Lots of varieties of wine that
you’ve never heard of actually. In the south, you have
the Alentejo region which this is taken
in the spring. It’s pretty green but usually
this area is very hot and dry. A lot of cork trees, a
lot of olive trees. Also, a lot of grapes. It’s the second biggest
wine producing area. Portugal has over 350
miles of coastline. That means lots and lots of beaches. Beautiful beaches,
mostly sandy beaches. If you like the beach,
it’s a great place to go. Has some vibrant big cities
like Lisbon and Porto as well as some really nice charming
small towns like Obidos. Very unique architecture. This is a type of architecture that’s
really only found in Portugal. It’s called Manuelin,
after King Manuel. It’s an interesting mix
of Gothic and Moroccan. It’s very distinct that you’ll see
in different parts of Portugal. Also, the people in Portugal
are very friendly people. They’re very humble, very friendly. If you even just learn a couple
of phrases in Portuguese, they will go out of their
way to be nice to you. It’s a very easy place to travel,
very safe country to travel. I used to say Portugal was an
unknown, out-of-the-way place, but that’s certainly not true
in the last couple years. It’s really been discovered
and now it’s a really hot destination, a lot of people
are going to Portugal. One of the reasons that people go
to Portugal or one of the things you think about when you think
about Portugal is port wine. Not only port wine, they
also have a lot of really good table wine that
you’ve never heard of. Most of it is small
production so you can’t really find it
outside of Portugal. In Portugal itself, you can drink
very good wine very cheaply. This is one of my
favorites, it’s a light sparkling white wine
called vino verde. Slightly effervescent,
really good on a hot day. Portugal is the largest
producer of cork in the world. Whenever you open your wine bottle
whether it’s a bottle of wine from Italy or from France, most likely
that cork comes from Portugal itself. It comes from the bark
of the cork tree. They actually peel it off
in sheets and people often think, “Aren’t they going
to kill the tree?” Actually it takes about seven years
for the cork to grow back and these trees can last
up to a hundred years. Big production there. The titles, you will
see all over Portugal. This is the type of
tile called Azulejo. I’m not sure I’m still
saying that right. It’s a really hard word
for English speakers. Mostly blue and white
tiles, but you will see lots of different
colors of tiles. Entire buildings covered
in tiles in Portugal. That’s one of the things about
Portugal that I really like is very different than architecture
that you’ll see in other places. Also, one of the very
distinctly Portuguese things that you won’t find
anywhere is the fado music. fado is a soulful, almost
sad, longing type of music. When you think about it, Portugal
is surrounded by the sea. The men are off at sea for
months on end so their wives, their daughters, or sisters were
at home and they would miss their husbands, boyfriends,
their sons, so they would have this longing sadness and
they would sing these songs. The really best place
to hear fado is in Lisbon, but you can
hear all over Portugal. Another distinctly
Portuguese term is “saudade.” which doesn’t really
translate into English. It means this longing for something
in the past, something that’s gone. Some people say the
Portuguese people are– It permeates a lot of
parts of their being. They have this almost the
sadness of the past. Since Portugal is surrounded
by the sea, fishing is a huge part of their culture and
there’s lots of fresh seafood. If you like seafood, Portugal
is a fantastic place to go. One of the biggest types of fish that
you will see in Portugal is cod. It comes in dried sheets like this. This is actually one of our Norwegian
tour guides Pål Johanson, and one of our Portuguese
tour guides Christina Duarte. I think they’re negotiating
some trade deal here, Portuguese wine
for Norwegian cod. [laughter] Most of the cod actually
comes from Norway. It’s been completely fished out
of the waters around Portugal. It comes from Norway
or even Iceland. They have over 365
different recipes for cod. They can make cod
any number of ways. This is one of the most popular. Their little cod fritter is
called Pasteis de Bacalhau. Another very popular dish in
Portugal is pork and clams. It sounds odd, you
think pork and clams. Why would they put that together? It’s actually quite tasty. Portuguese cuisine is not something
that’s really known worldwide. You can go anywhere and
find Italian food or French food, but Portuguese
food is more basic. It’s a lot of fish and
potatoes, a lot of fresh seafood but it is a very
hearty, very tasty food. Now with the resurgence
of all this tourism in Portugal, there’s a lot
of really designer food. You can get these really fancy
food tours in Lisbon and Porto. A lot of shops are taking traditional
Portuguese dishes and putting this modern twist on them and it’s
a very trendy hip thing right now. Another popular Portuguese
dish that you might see in Portugal is a
type of bread soup. It’s called Açorda. There’s probably a thousand
different recipes for this. It’s like in the US — potato salad,
everyone has their own recipe. In Portugal, it’s
basically the same thing. It’s chicken broth and dried old
bread, usually stale bread. Then what they put in it varies. This particular one has
cilantro in it and then they put egg on top and the heat
from the soup cooks it. Especially in the Alentejo region
this is a very popular dish. Sardines, these are different from
the sardines you will find in a can. These are really large grilled
sardines and quite tasty. I don’t even like sardines, but
first time I came to Portugal and tried these, I was skeptical
but they’re very delicious. Octopus salad, another very common
dish that you will find there. This is a Brazilian
barbecue called churrasco. If you like meat, if you’re meat
eater, you will be in heaven there. You can find these very
affordable meat buffets all over Portugal and these
guys come to your table with these different cuts
of meat on the skewers and they carve them on
to plates at your table. In the back you have this
big salad bar that has different vegetables and
salads that you can go eat, but if you like to eat a lot
of meat, this is definitely a good value for you
when you’re in Portugal. One of the most common and very affordable dishes is
piri piri chicken. It’s a roast chicken and then
they have this very spicy little sauce here called piri piri
sauce that they put on it. Almost always served with
French fries and salad. This is a dish that’s common
to Porto in the north. It’s called francesinha which
means a little French girl, like a croque monsieur if
you’ve had that in France. It’s a ham and cheese sandwich
that’s been wrapped in cheese and baked and then it’s covered in
this gravy that has beer in it. [laughter] Audience: That’s great. Rich: I call it the
Portuguese gut bomb. [laughter] Rich: It definitely is going
to feel like you have a brick in your stomach if you eat
this, but it is quite tasty. [laughter] Rich: If you’re going
to travel to Portugal, it is a fairly easy place to travel. Quite a few people
speak English there. They’re very friendly people. I would definitely come armed
with some good materials. I’m a little partial
to our guidebook since I’m one of the people
who updates them. Our guide books are not all inclusive
though, so Rick has already taken out what he thinks is the best of
the best and put it in this book. We’ve already narrowed down the
choices, but if there’s some place that you want to go that your
grandparents came from, or you just heard about some little town in
the mountains that you want to explore, then you might want to look
at a different type of guidebook. For those, I usually
use Lonely Planet, they’re much more
extensive than ours. They’re maybe not
updated as often, but they have a much more wide coverage. Then the DK series. I really like these as
like a planning book. They’re filled with colored photos
and a lot of historical content. It’s not really a book I
would bring with me, but is one that I would buy
before I go and really read up on. Also, a good
driving map is essential if you’re going to be
driving in Portugal. We used to say in our
guidebook that driving in Portugal is one of the
most dangerous places in the world, and I
think that was the pre-EU days, because I
wouldn’t say that’s true. I’d say it’s actually pretty
easy place to drive, especially if you’re used to driving around
Seattle or any large city. Our website is a
wealth of information. We have a ton of free information
online that you can go to. We have a travel forum here where
you can go and ask questions that other travelers who maybe
have been to this town. Let’s say there’s a
town you found out that you have a
grandmother from, and you look in all the
guidebooks and you don’t see anything listed about this town. You can answer a question,
“Hey, my grandmother’s from Aveiro, anybody been there?” Some person who lives
in Aveiro might answer you and say,
“Yes, I’m from here.” This is what you should see. Or someone else might
say, “I just got back and I stayed at
this great hotel.” These are some useful
websites that I would suggest, that I
find quite useful. The first one is the Portuguese
Tourism Office in the US has a lot of wealth of
information on Portugal. Anything you want to find out. Portugal has a whole series of these
historic inns called pousadas. Similar to paradores in Spain if
you’ve ever heard of those, and these are old convents and
monasteries, sometimes castles, and they can be a bit on the pricey
side, but they’re a unique hotel experience, and this website will
list them all over the country. Also for rail schedules
in Portugal, I use the Portuguese
railways website. Then there’s several different
bus companies, but these are the two main ones, Eva
Bus and REDE Expressos. Then for budget flights,
I use skyscanner.com. Portugal is a lot of different
ways to get around. It’s kind of isolated from the
rest of Europe because of Spain. Spain actually changed
the rail gauges back in the ’50s, and so it
cut off Portugal from the rest of Europe by
train, so you can’t really travel to Portugal
easily by train. There is a main rail line
that runs from Lisbon to Madrid, an overnight
train every night. A very old train that
goes from Santiago in the north down to Porto, but
just once a day, and there’s a very old train
that runs between Coimbra, the university
town, and Salamanca, Spain — a university town in Spain,
also just goes once a day. For the most part,
you’re going to want to rely on buses or maybe flights. You can fly very cheaply from
various cities in Europe. For instance, last time
I was in Portugal, I flew from Barcelona to Porto for about 20 bucks on Ryanair. If you book them ahead,
they can be very cheap. There’s a whole wealth of
various airlines, that Skyscanner site will show
you any number of them. If you’re going to be
in Paris, or you’re going to be in
Frankfurt, you could fly very cheaply often to
a city like Porto, or Faro, or Lisbon and
start your trips. How you do your travel planning
in Portugal really depends on how much time you have
and what interest you have. What Rick says in his
book is, if you had maybe two or three
days just do Lisbon. You’d fly there from
some other city or maybe take an overnight
train from Madrid. Possibly a day trip to Sintra
where the royal palaces are. If you had a week, I would
say, I would then, on top of Lisbon either add the
south coast, Algarve coast. Staying in a small
town like Salema, one of Rick’s little
favorite backdoor towns. Or possibly the north, do Lisbon
and then by north you could travel by train to Coimbra and
Porto, the second biggest city. Train travel is really going to be
between the large cities of Lisbon, Coimbra and Porto as well as down to
the south coast and Évora as well. Otherwise, you’re going
to rely on buses or cars. It really depends on
where you’re going. The rail system here, this is
the Portuguese rail system. It’s not a very good
map, but it shows the blue line is
really the main line. The high speed rail that they have
in Portugal connects the major cities, and then these other
lines are the smaller trains. They don’t run quite as
frequent as they’re going to do in other countries
like France or Spain. The high speed trains in Portugal are
called Alfa Pendular trains, and they really connect the main core
between Porto, and Lisbon, and Faro. The buses REDE Expressos, one of
the big companies, and this will connect the smaller towns as well
as if you’re heading to Spain. You can take a bus
for instance, from the south Algarve all
the way to Sevilla. There’s generally two to four a day. Cars are a really good
option for getting around the countryside especially the Algarve or maybe
in the Douro Valley or the rural mountains to the east. I would say a smaller car
is definitely better. You do need an international
driver’s license. You can get that at your local
AAA office before you go. Also some of the budget
airlines I was referring to. This is Vueling, a Spanish airline. They have very inexpensive flights throughout Europe, but
especially Iberia. There’s a couple different cards
that you might want to get in Lisbon and Porto considering how much
sightseeing you’re going to do. The Lisboa card for
instance in Lisbon, can really save a busy sightseer
some time and money. It’s going to cover all the major
museums in Lisbon, and will cover public transit, so trolley cars,
buses, funiculars and the subway. It will give you discounts
on sites in Sintra. The Viva Viagem card here
is a public transit card. You buy this. It cost 50 cents, and then you
put some money on it, and you use it like a zap system when
you get on the subway, or you get on a bus, or you
get on a trolley car. It can really save you time without having to buy tickets
every time as well. The subway system in Lisbon is super
modern and really easy to use. It connects the train stations. It connects the airport. All the major sites you’re
going to want to use. The subways are a pretty efficient
way to get around town. You’ll also see a bunch of
trolley cars that go up and down the hills just like you
would in San Francisco. They have these modern
trams that you might take out to Belem, one of
the suburbs of Lisbon. It has some sites to see. They also have these new little
kind of Indian tuk-tuks. You’ll see these all over the
place in Lisbon, and you can hire them pretty inexpensively to take
you up to town, take you around. Lisbon’s also a great taxi town. You can hire taxis to take you
pretty much anywhere you want to go. I always think it’s
important to relearn a few phrases of the language
when you’re traveling. Even if you just learn
these three phrases. you’re going to go
really far in Portugal. Portuguese is related to Spanish,
but it is definitely different. If you say hello in
Portuguese you say ola, ola. Can everybody say ola. Audience: Ola. Rich: Similar to the
Spanish hola, but doesn’t have the h and stressed
on the a, ola for hello. Good day or good morning is bom dia. Audience: Bom dia. Rich: Bom dia, and then thank you,
if you’re a male is obrigado. Obrigado. If you’re a female, you
would say obrigada. Obrigada, so obrigado and obrigada,
depending if you’re male or female. Doesn’t matter if you’re
talking to a male or female. If I’m a man, I always
say obrigado, If you are a woman, you will
always say obrigada. If you just learn these phrases,
Portuguese people will just beam. They’ll be so happy that you even
attempt to speak their language. It’s not a language a
lot of people speak. We do have some tours
throughout Europe, and our Portugal tour would show
you the highlights. If you don’t want to travel on
your own, a Portugal tour can be a really good option to see
the main sites in Portugal. This map shows the nights that
you will spend in each location. It starts in Lisbon
for three nights. You head down to Évora, and
then Alentejo for one night, then up to the small town
of Obidos for two where you see some of these religious
sites of Fátima, Alcobaça and Batalha, as well as
the beach town of Nazaré. Then you head to the University
town of Coimbra for two nights. The Douro Valley for a
night, and ends in Porto. The only thing I don’t
like about this tour is that it does
not go to the Algarve coast, which is one of my favorite locations, but it’s
very easy to remedy. After you do the Portugal
tour, you can fly. There are two flights a day on
Ryanair that go down to Faro. Very cheap if you book them ahead. Less than $50. What I usually recommend clients
who are coming in for a consultation, and they say,
“I’m doing the Portugal tour. What should I do afterwards?” I would say, my first choice would be to fly down here and
spend three nights in Salema. Then you could go to
Faro and fly Faro back to Paris, or London,
or another city, or come back to Lisbon
and fly home from Lisbon, depending on
where you’re going. It’s a really good way to see what
we consider the best of Portugal. We have some fantastic
guides in Portugal. These are three of them. This is Maria Jose, Cristina
Duarte and Robert Wright. Some of the sites that I’m going
to talk about today in Portugal. Let’s start at Lisbon
here, the capital. From there we’re going to head
up to Coimbra, Porto, the Douro Valley, then down to
Évora and end at the Algarve. There’s any number of ways that you
can plan your trip to Portugal. I like to end it in the Algarve. This is one of my
favorite places to relax. I like to often recommend
people we’ll fly into Porto and work their way
down, but you could, most flights are going
to come in and out of Lisbon, so you could do
this any number of ways. Lisbon, the capital
sort of an interesting mix of San Francisco meets Morocco. [laughter] It really is. It’s like it’s very similar to
San Francisco in a lot of ways. It’s about the same latitude as San
Francisco, has a bunch of hills. Even has this bridge
looks kind of familiar. It’s the same guy who designed
the Golden Gate Bridge. This is the 25th of April Bridge
crosses the River Tagus in Lisbon. Of course trolley cars
just like you see in San Francisco and this Manueline
architecture very distinct to Portugal that
sort of looks like it’s something of a combination
of Gothic and Moroccan. Also, these tiled
buildings everywhere like you’d see in the Middle East. It’s also an interesting
city of sort of old and new. Lisbon is a very old
city, has Roman roots. You see a lot of
these old buildings. This is the Alfama
neighborhood, very old section of town with these
twisty windy streets and red tiled roofs, but
then you have these very modern structures
like the subway system. This is the Oriente Train
Station, very modern. Also, the Vasco da Gama
Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the world
crosses the River Tagus. You have this interesting
mix of old and new. This also is a city of great views. Because of all the
hills, there’s all these different
viewpoints in the city. This one is just below the castle. If you’re going up to see the castle,
they’re called miradors, overlooks the Alfama neighborhood, the
old fisherman’s quarter. Up at the castle which is the highest
point in the city, you have this view from their viewpoint, fantastic
view overlooking the entire city. From the San Justa Elevator,
this is an old steel elevator that was designed
by one of the students of Eiffel, who designed
the Eiffel Tower. From the top of that has a
nice view of Rossio Square. Lisbon as we know it
has been rebuilt since 1755 when they had
this huge earthquake, one of the biggest
earthquakes recorded in Europe and it happened
on All Saint’s Day. Most people were in
church in the morning and the earthquake toppled
quite a few buildings. Then because back then
everybody cooked with fire and used candles for light,
a lot of fire started. The city caught on fire
and started burning. The earthquake then
caused the tsunami which came in and wiped out a
big portion of the city. A lot of the city was destroyed. The king at that time hired
this guy, the Marquis de Pombal, to redesign the city
in a very modern grid plan. He did it in record time. Within a month a lot of the city
was already started to be rebuilt and he rebuilt much of the old
city here in this little valley. This area is called the Baixa
in a modern grid plan. Before that, it was a
medieval street plan with very narrow windy
twisty streets. You can still see some of that windy medieval plan in the
Alfama neighborhood which is on the hill
tumbling down from the castle and the
Bairro Alto over here. The Baixa area was
completely rebuilt on a grid plan and he put
these squares in. Up here you have the Praca
Figueira and Rossio Square and down by the river you
have the Praca Comercio. Some of the first
earthquake buildings ever designed were built after that. These buildings were built
after the 1755 quake and they were built with
this wood structure inside with brick and
stone on the outside and were built to resist
earthquakes and shaking. Rossio Square, I just
love this square. You see this all over Portugal. The way they do the cobble
stones in the streets. It looks like waves kind
of tying in with the sea. Reminisce of the earthquake you can
still see some of it in Lisbon up here above Rossio Square you have
this old convent, Covento do Carmen. It was an old convent
that destroyed during the earthquake, the ceiling fell in. You can tour it. They decided not to
build it, but leave it as a memorial to the
earthquake victims. Heading down from the
Bairro Alto into the Alfama, you have these twisty, winding narrow little streets that
are just really fun area to explore. This is sort of how pre
earthquake Lisbon looked. Not a place where you could really
drive a lot of cars through here. Heading from Rossio
Square down towards the Praca do Comercio, you
have this long street lined with shops leading
through this arch to the main square the
Praca do Comercio. This is where a lot of the
trolleys leave that go to Belem. It’s really fun kind of
active square, but most people in Lisbon don’t
really use it much. There’s also a great little
wine center over here at nine o’clock where you can taste
different kinds of wine. You buy a little electronic
card for a minimum of like €3 and then you can go taste
all these different wines. They change the wines
about every week. I don’t think Lisbon has a
lot of top-notch sites, like you don’t have museums like
the Louvre or Roman ruins that you would find in Rome,
but they do have some interesting small museums that
are very unique to Lisbon. The Gulbenkian Museum is
a small eclectic museum that’s Rick’s favorite
museum in Lisbon and has an interesting collection of
jewelry and sculptures, paintings, furniture, very
kind of fun little museum. Also, the Museum of fado, so fado
music they have their own museum. It’s something that’s
very unique to Lisbon. I wouldn’t say it’s like
a blockbuster site, but it’s something that you
won’t find anywhere else. Also, the Tile Museum,
this is built in an old convent and has
some fantastic tiles. Just outside of the main part of the
city you have this suburb called Belem and there are several great
sites that you can see here. The Monument to Discovery
is built to commemorate all the famous Portuguese explorers. One of the reasons that Portugal
became such a strong seafarer was this revolution in ship
design called the caravel. Here you have Henry, The Navigator in
front holding one of those caravels. Some of the Portuguese
explorers were really responsible for discovering
a lot of the world. You had Dias, Vasco da Gama, Cabral
who discovered Brazil and Magellan. One of the other main sites
that you can see in Belem is the Monastery of San
Jeronimo which is built in this Manueline style of
architecture, very unique, beautiful gardens in front
and the Belem Tower which is another sort of
Manueline style used to be the sort of guarding
entrance to Lisbon harbor. The Carriage Museum there is
a whole museum of different royal carriages throughout
Portuguese aristocracy. My favorite site in Belem
is this little pastry shop. [laughter] They have this little custard tarts
you will see all over Portugal. They’re called pasteis
de Belem, but that shop is the original
one that makes them. For about $2 you can go
in and get a little custard tart and this tiny little like shot
of espresso called the bica. Fantastic, especially when
they’re hot out of the oven. Near Lisbon you have the number one
day trip I would say would be Sintra. It’s a really easy day
trip from Lisbon. You can take a train there. It’s about 45 minutes. The trains go very
frequently and it has three palaces that
you can tour there. So that my favorite is the
Pena Palace, very unique style, looks something
like out of Doctor Seuss. It’s very beautiful and it
was also the home of the last Portuguese king who
they booted out in 1910. Just down the road you have the
ruins of the Moorish Castle which almost reminds me of something
you would find in Ireland. Has these big stones all
covered in moss, lots of steps, beautiful views
from the top there. Then you have in the
town itself the National Palace which I think is
the least interesting. If you’re going to visit
Sintra, I would start with the Pena Palace and the
Moorish Castle, then you go back down to the main part
of town, see how you feel and you could see this as a
last option I would say. The hike down, if you hike down
from the Pena Palace back into town you pass through these beautiful
gardens and some wooded trails. It’s a really nice little walk. Then just west of Sintra you have
the western-most point of Europe. It’s called Cabo da Roca. It’s a bit of an over-
rated site I would say. The coast itself is quite
beautiful, but all that’s there is really this little
plaque that says, it’s the western-most part of
Europe and you can get a little souvenir certificate
that says you were there. Not a whole lot. Another very easy day
trip from Lisbon is Cascais which is just a
short train ride away to about 40 minutes west.
Sort of the weekend getaway of the Lisbon
elite back in the day. Now, it’s got some beautiful
beaches and seafood restaurants. This is a fun little escape for the weekend or for a day
if you’re in Lisbon. From Lisbon, we head to north to
the university town of Coimbra. This is a great small, like,
mini Lisbon famous for its university which is
one the oldest in Europe. You can see that up
on the hilltop here. The old part of the town has
all these great beautiful architecture, pedestrian
streets all lined in marble. Can be a bit slick if it’s
raining so be careful. Then you can walk up to the
castle, or up to the university. You have sort of two options;
you can walk through the main part of the
city, at the end there’s an elevator that takes
you up, or you can walk this way kind of up, wind
up the little streets. Rick has a great little walking tour in his book where you
kind of take the elevator up and then you walk back
down the street from the university. You’ll see some graffiti up there
where all the fraternities are. These guys don’t like
McDonald’s very well. The gate of the university and you
can tour the university itself. It’s quite a beautiful place
especially the library here. This has some of the
oldest books in Europe. This picture I kind of snuck. You’re not supposed to
take photographs inside. I kind of held my camera and
took it, but it’s got all this beautiful carved
woodwork with gold overlay. If you go in May that’s when
the students are graduating so you’ll see a lot of students around
town in these caps and gowns. Coimbra is unique and
then it has this type of fado where
it’s only sung by men. You will have these male groups
going around singing fado music and just outside you have some
Roman ruins of Conimbriga. These are not as
impressive as something you’d see out of Rome for instance, but some of the best mosaic floors
I’ve seen, they’re pretty fantastic. From here we head north to Porto. This is the working town and Rick
says in his book that Coimbra or a Porto works while Lisbon plays and
it’s a bit of a workaday grungy town. It’s really having this rebirth
these last couple years and there’s a lot of construction
and remodeling going on. It’s a fantastic city, I think. The River Douro runs
right through it, where you have all these old wine boats and on the other
side of the river is where the port wine lodges are. If you like port wine, you want to do
some port wine tasting, you can go over there and there’s quite a few of
them that we listed in our guidebook. There’s so many different types of
port wine, the first time I came to Porto I was shocked I didn’t think I
liked port, but there’s all these different ones. Some
of these late bottle vintage ones can be quite expensive for a tasting, so you could spend
like $100 for just a taste of it. The area along the river
called the Ribera has all these beautiful
unique buildings. One of my favorite hotels we listed
in the book is here, the Guest House Douro and it’s been remodeled
one of these old Ribera houses. Also, the Stock Exchange
Palace which you think, how could that be an
interesting site? It actually is pretty
cool, they built it to really impress people to
attract foreign trade. They don’t let you take
any pictures inside, but all the various
rooms are decorated. They have a Moroccan room that’s
all done in this plasterwork. They have another one
that’s all done with gold, gold leaf and
inlay and they do English language tours
almost hourly there so it’s a really
easy place to visit. There’s also another wine tasting
center just to the right. The main square Avenida Dos
Aliados, this has a lot of great art nouveau architecture
and one of the coolest McDonald’s you’ll ever see. I kind of have mixed
feelings about this McDonald’s because you see
this all over Europe. I’ve seen this in Tallinn, in the old
city wall, there are this really old historic part of the city that
there’s a McDonald’s built there. Well, in this case
this was an old cafe from the 1800s that
was slated to be torn down and McDonald’s
bought the property and they left it
pretty much as it was. They left the interior
intact with all the stained glass, they even left the
old coffee bar in there. It’s even a cool place just
to pop in and take a look at. It’s one of the stops on Rick’s walking
tour in Porto, but it’s also the classiest place I think to have a
Big Mac if you really want one. This is my favorite church
in all of Portugal. It’s the tiled church and I
just love all this blue and white tile — azulejos — that’s
all covered all over it. The other church there, this
is the symbol of Porto. You see it sticking up,
the Clérigos Tower. You can climb the steps
to the very top for this fantastic view
overlooking Porto. Very famous bookstore here that I
don’t know if this is true, but I’ve heard a rumor that JK Rowling
who wrote Harry Potter was really inspired by this bookstore and it used
to be a regular bookstore, but now you have to pay an entrance fee to
go in, but it’s just beautiful. It’s got this beautiful wooden
stairway and I think the entrance fee actually helps to keep the
place up and keep it going. The old train station here
the São Bento train station. This is not the station
that you would arrive if you’re coming from
Coimbra or Lisbon. You could take a connecting train
from that station to this station and inside has these
beautiful tile murals depicting all the
history of Portugal. From here, we move on to the
Douro Valley and you have these terraced hillsides
with all these wine grapes. You can take a boat
from Porto for the day to go up here if you
want to just go for the day, then either come
back by bus or train or you could go up and
spend a couple nights. I think it’s really better
to have a car up here. You can stay at a small
little quinta or one of the pousadas up there,
do some wine tasting. The main town Peso da
Régua, I don’t think is a highlight as far as a beautiful
little town, but it’s a really good transportation
hub because you can take the train here or the
boat, lot of wineries. This is one of the ones we list in
our book, Quinta de Marrocos, small family runs the little winery and
you can rent a room there and stay. It’s a fantastic place to stay. You also have some
pousadas just outside of town, and it’s a
beautiful old manor house that was turned
into a pousada inside all this tile work and
a fantastic view. There’s a lot of these type
of pousadas all over the Douro Valley that you can
find on that pousadas website. Now, heading back down towards the
southern part of the country. We have Nazaré on the west coast. This is an old fishing village
that’s turned into a resort town. Has some of the biggest
surfing waves in the world. If you come here in the summer can
be quite crowded, you can rent these little tents, they do still have
some traditional life that survives. The women here are known for wearing
these seven layered petticoats. This lady’s drying fish
on the fish racks. A lot of them will rent
rooms in their house. If you’re looking for a place to
stay, you can actually show up in a place like Nazaré and they
will have these little books with pictures of their home and
you can rent a room there and they’ll take you to their house
and stay very affordably. Once you go past the
main square, there’s a lot of these little
quiet little back streets that are
loaded with some small seafood restaurants
where the locals eat. The main square, you can
take a funicular up to the top, the city’s
divided into two parts. You have the lower town where
the beaches, and then the upper town you take this
funicular up, it’s called Sitio. Up there you have these
little viewpoints overlooking the sea and the fantastic
view overlooking Nazaré. Up there’s also where you have the cathedral, the Lady
of Nazaré Church and this girl who’s
always up there every time I go there, she’s
selling nuts and little percebes which
are these barnacles. They’re actually quite large, about the size of your finger. You think barnacles, it doesn’t
sound very good. Portuguese people love to steam these
barnacles and then they eat them. They pop them out, it’s
almost like a little shrimp and they have it with a cold beer. Very unique. Near there you have three
important religious sites; you have Alcobaça which
is a beautiful church. It’s famous for the
burial place of the Portuguese Romeo and
Juliet, Pedro and Inês. We have a whole little story in our guidebook that tells
you all about that. Second important church, Batalha. This is the site of a very famous
battle that the Portuguese repelled a Spanish invasion and
inside has this beautiful stonework. One of the most important Catholic
pilgrimage sites in Europe; Fatima. If you come on the 12th
to the 13th of the month, it’s going to
be quite crowded. There’s a lot of pilgrims
who come from all over Portugal, all
over Europe, really. They like to walk this esplanade
that goes between the two. You have the cathedral here, and
then this church on the other end. You’ll see people walking on their
knees, the whole length of it. Just south of there, we have Obidos,
the cute little castle town. This also has a pousada you can stay
in right at the entrance of the town. It’s all surrounded
by medieval walls. Got to be a little careful because
there’s no railings here. This is a lawsuit in the
making, if this was the US. The entrance of the
city, with the main gate, you have this
beautiful tile work. The top, this is no longer tiles,
it’s been painted because during the 1755 earthquake that all fell down
and they never did put it back up. Very narrow little streets
all lined with chocolate shops and little restaurants,
beautiful little town. It’s one of my favorite places
to stay the night actually because most people just go
here as a day trip from Lisbon. It can be really crowded. If you stay the night, you
have the town to yourself. Further south, we have Évora
in the Alentejo region. This is a university
town and very old. It’s been a town since Roman times. It’s known for its
Roman temple, also has another pousada
right behind it that you can stay in that’s
an old monastery, and famous for its bone chapel. If anybody’s been to Kutna
Hora in the Czech Republic. They had a similar chapel
there, it’s all lined with human bones and some very
narrow little streets. I really like this little
sign here and they have it in Portuguese
and English saying, “Is your car small enough to fit?
Ha ha.” I did not try to drive
my car through that. I mean, that is a really
small space, but you can tell that people have tried
to drive through here. Another reason to
have a very small car when you’re renting
a car in Portugal. Just outside of Évora,
you have this old stone circle that’s 1,000 years
older than Stonehenge. The first time I went here,
I was really surprised. There was nobody there. Now, it’s not as
impressive as something you’d see in Stonehenge,
but just the fact that these rocks are
still surviving, after all this time is pretty
impressive to me. You can see these faint
carvings in them. There’s a guy we list in
our book who does tours, his name is Mario and he
does tours out of Évora. He has a company called Évora
Megalithic and he knows everything about all the
prehistoric sites around Évora. You can hire him for the day,
he will pick you up at your hotel and take you out to
some of these stone circles. It’s pretty interesting. On the south coast of
Portugal, we have three towns that we like;
Tavira is one of them. It’s over near the Spanish
border, most of the Algarve has become like
the south coast of Spain. It’s a lot of golf resorts,
a lot of Northern Europeans and Brits, so it doesn’t
really feel Portuguese. There’s a few of these three
little towns that really do. Tavira is a nice
little place, I really like it, has a very old stone Roman bridge, nice little
park where they do concerts here sometimes
in the summer. Near there is a little island called
Ilha de Tavira and you have to take a little boat out there,
has a little sandbar, has all beautiful sand beach there. From here we go to
Lagos which is one of the largest towns on
the Algarve coast. Some very interesting rock
formations and beaches around Lagos including some caves
a little further east. The old town got a lot of maze
of narrow pedestrian streets. I really like this tile
building in the square here. This whole is a modern kind of
green tile, but at the top even these are tiles, and it’s famous
for the original slave market. Most of the African slaves that came
to the new world came through Lagos. This is the old slave market
building, it’s now been turned into a museum which is kind of
interesting to see, I think. We end in the Salema which is Rick’s favorite little Portuguese backdoor. If you want a place
to just chill out and relax, this is a
great place to go. I always end my trips in Portugal and
Salema because I like to just chill out of the beach, drink
some caipirinhas, have some good seafood and relax. The beach here is quite nice. The town is kind of
divided into two parts. You have the old town here below and
then up above this is a lot of the condos that are owned by Brits and Germans, a more modern
part of the town. It’s one of the few places
you’ll ever see Rick relax. Here he is at one of
our favorite hotels we list in the guidebook,
the Pension A Mare. It really just has one
main street going through the old town, and then the
beach there, beautiful. I just love to swim here every day. It still is a fishing town
so there are fishermen who fish every day here,
mainly for octopus. They put these pots down in the
water, octopus crawl into the pots. They think it’s safe
and then they pull the pots up and the octopus
are in the pots. Really nice to walk on the
beach at sunrise here. Beautiful, beautiful place. Then just west of there an easy
day trip if you have a car, you have the far south-west
little tip of Europe called Sagres, and Sagres is famous
for several things, as these beautiful cliffs and fantastic
surfing beaches here. A lot of surfers love
this part of Europe. You see fishermen fishing
right off the edges of the cliffs and Henry the
Navigator had a fort here. It really did look like
the end of the world, you could see this sort
of windswept barren landscape and you can
understand why people thought this is where
the world ended. There’s an old sundial. Well, they think it was a
sundial, they’re not really sure. Then these cliffs that just
drop off right into the sea. Obrigado, thank you very much. [applause]

26 thoughts on “Portugal with Rich Earl | Rick Steves Travel Talks

  1. About Sintra, you forgot the most beautiful sight, the Quinta de Regaleira, It’s a Gothic garden with lots of Gothic buildings… an awesome place! You almost forgot time & existence there! Very Gothic ?

  2. One of my grandparents came from St. Michael's in the Azores. I've been to Portugal 2x and it's beautiful. I was also born and raised in Fall River, MA which has the largest Portuguese ethnic community in the US and you can get all the typical Portuguese food products like dried salt cod, chourico, sweet bread and Casal Garcia vinho verde or green wine. Definitely one of the more affordable destinations in western Europe too.

  3. What about the Alentejo coast????
    If you really want to relax than you should mention Alentejo coast!
    Algarve coast is very overrated!
    Believe me I’m Portuguese!

  4. Coimbra University Library is one of the most disappointing places to visit, not because it is not astoundingly beautiful, but because the only information you get is on a plastified sheet of A4. No audioguide; no booklets describing the paintings. If you are lucky or resourceful you will have found a student to show you around. I am amazed Rick managed to get a photo. God knows why you can't even take pictures in there – it is not as if you are going to damage the paintwork as the barriers keep you well away from the walls. They even have an original of the list of books forbidden by the pope (16th century??), but it is keep locked away so that no one can see it (never heard of shatterproof glass). Skip Coimbra; go to Arouca monastery.

  5. A.couple of points here…. Portuguese is older than the Spanish language. Lisbon is older than Rome. Portuguese is actually one of the most spoken languages in the world due to colonization. Portugal is in fact the oldest country in Europe and hasn't changed its borders ever. Im not Portuguese.

  6. This is an English-language presentation. Can we please ALWAYS refer to the river in its English name, the Tagus? And maybe as a quick footnote say "or Tejo in Portuguese." I mean, you say Lisbon, not Lisboa. Otherwise a great presentation. Just my two cents, thanks.

  7. Love Portugal, it's a great country. Last summer my friend, my teen daughter and I visted Cascais and Sintra, with beautiful castles. One great thing also that I would like to mention is that we meet Infanta Margarita de Borbon (80 years old beautiful lady) sister of Rey Juan Carlos of Spain, one night, in a local restaurant, we only found out after she and her friends left ? . We are planning to go back next year, there is still so much to see. ❤❤

  8. Rick great vlog, well explained about this wonderful country whatever you go with different cultures.
    You are ambassador of portugal , but still an know for many people.
    Cheers

  9. I started working on a cruise ship about twenty years ago in Lisbon. We rented a car and drove to Fatima. Didn't know the highway was one of the most dangerous in the country. I guess angles really do watch over fools ? Awesome country!

  10. Portuguese language is spoken by over 300 million people worldwide. That is more than the population of UK, Australia, NZ, Canada and South Africa adding France too all put together.

  11. Some people in Lisbon and Porto weren't very nice or friendly when we were there 4y ago. Most were seemed to be resentful of foreigners. But this was at the height of their recession. There were a lot of panhandlers and some were in their 20's. Porto was always rainy and damp, but loved the weather in Lisbon though. It was mostly sunny and warm in the fall similar to San Francisco.

  12. As a portuguese I appreciate a lot your presentation. Of course there much more to say and to see. Everyone it’s welcome to our beloved country! Thank you.

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