A letter about…Portugal

…and it all started with the tart!

We were spoilt for scenery as we carefully manoeuvred the meandering roads through the Douro Valley. Not that the roads were tight or treacherous, rather every turn unfolded a new and more enticing vista. Carpeted green hills stretch out as far as the eye can see, manicured vines terraced against the terrain, bisected by the meandering Douro itself. You are constantly spoilt with more vistas. It was here, in a small village called Provesende, which provided a unique experience of Portugal. A chance to sample for the first time, Portuguese food and wines. And we were not disappointed.

Exploring the pulsating city of Porto, I am seduced by a tart. I feel like I am being unfaithful, enjoying it on my own. I succumb to all her worldly pleasures – freshly baked, soft velvety pastry and smooth egg custard. What isn’t there to like? The pastel de nata is so moreish that there is absolutely no point ordering just one.

Lisbon dazzles us with her sights, set amongst the hills, with her rattling trams and old world charm from years gone by. She regales us with history, in Belem, from where the world was explored. She houses some of the most ornate and culturally significant buildings in Portugal, which we admire and wonder, what was it like during the era of exploration.

And how can we forget Sintra, with her many castles, perched high in the hills surrounding the quaint town. Palace de Pena is a brightly coloured palace surrounded by natural greenery that would not be out of place in a Disney movie. Bright yellows and reds decorate the building walls alongside statues, battlements and painted terraces.

We wander the cobblestone streets and stop in hole in the wall cafes. We enjoy the many churches and gaze at the building facades adorned with colourful tiles as diverse and numerous as there are houses. But for me, my mind is never far away from that first encounter. My resolve waivers when I see her, sitting in the window, beckoning me for…just.one.more.

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