This blog post is a bit overdue – the wifi here in Porto has been a bit flaky, and we haven’t been doing heaps of note. But I’m seven glasses of port in, so what better time to recap our stay here.
Sintra is a town a short train ride from Lisbon, built by the Portuguese in order to have somewhere to put their fancy buildings. It has a population of some 377,000, and contains five palaces, an historical convent, a hilltop castle, and several stately homes. Apart from the tourist industry, it appears to have little economic or political value, though the castle, at least, has some military advantages, being on a hill overlooking the Atlantic.
Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I ate the pastries in a town called Belém
It’s the thing I was most excited about in Seville! The Real Alcázar. A network of palaces originally built by the Moors, it was then added to over the centuries by the Castilians, and even today includes the official residence of the King and Queen when in Seville. (Side note: did you know there was still a monarchy in Spain? I did not. This is something I possibly should have googled before I came here; the Catalan situation seemed more of an immediate issue at the time but in the end our entire interaction with it was seeing flags hanging from windows.)
After an epic train journey from Barcelona, we’ve been spending the last few days in Seville. We both quickly agreed that this place feels like Spain – the streets are lined with orange trees, the buildings are plastered white with little orange balconies, and you never have to wait long until a segway tour rolls past you. Ok, so maybe we’re a little too close to the tourist centre of town to get true authenticity.
It’s Gaudí day!* The day we set aside for leaving the twilight embrace of the Gothic quarter in order to go to both Park Güell and the Sagrada Família cathedral.
While yesterday was all about food, today turned into a healthy dose of art, religion and history.
After a pair of very annoying flights occupied by people put on this earth to increase my blood pressure*, we have touched down in peaceful, politically stable Barcelona. Everyone seems very chill for being dangerous revolutionaries, though Catalan flags are hanging from many, many buildings. Also signs that say “Hola Democràcia”, which seems like the most benign political slogan ever but I’m sure is actually very incendiary. Possibly the general air of goodwill owes something to the fact that a glass of decent wine in a restaurant here will cost you less than a bottle of water in a restaurant in Sydney.