Saturday, March 16, 2019


Hola from the beautiful,sunny Costa Del Sol.Yesterday,we arrived in Torremolino ,2 planes and a local train ride after leaving Albufeira,Portugal..Portugal ,where we spent the previously 2 weeks in Lisbon and the Al grave, was a perfect place to start our month long retreat from the cold ,winter in Ottawa.
After a long overseas flight to London,we quickly run through terminal 1 at Heathrow airport to catch our 2 hour flight to Lisbon. On arrival,we were met by Fredrick, our driver who would prove to be a valuable resource,in helping us negotiate the mazes, that is the old city of Lisbon.
After a  good night sleep, we were ready to explore the sights and sounds of Lisbon.We choose to go on a 5 hour walking tour which proved to be one of the highlights of our trip.We meet our fellow travelers from Toronto,England and Belgium at Rossio square, the main square in Lisbon. Our guide Pedro, an anthropology graduate from the University of Lisbon,was a major source of stories and information,that allowed us to learn the culture and history of Lisbon.
As a Jew I was particularly interested in the history of the Jews in Portugal.Apparently after the 1492 inquisition in Spain, many Jews migrated to Portugal.Unfortunately 2 years latter, when the king married a zealous Catholic woman,The Jews were exposed as pretending to practice Catholicism,and subsequently murdered. We saw a very moving
monument dedicated to the Jews who were slaughtered in 1494.
Other highlights of the city were the palace, the magnificent cathedral and the old city.
After leaving Lisbon,we rented an automatic car and visited Sintra,Obidos and the medieval town of Evora before taking the superhighway to Albufeira which is  the most southern part of Portugal .
Before commenting on the warm ,humanistic nature of the Portuguese people I'd like to comment on driving in Portugal.The  superhighways are simply marvelous, with well marked signage,clean rest spots with quality food.Traffic is sparse because of the tolls,which is a major controversy in Portugal.Driving  through the  narrow streets of the towns is quite a challenge, as is the art of negotiating the nerve racking round abouts..
The people of Portugal are simply marvelous. One example is worth noting. On our first night in Lisbon we were hungry and not sure where to eat. We decided on a pizza.Unfortunately when it arrived, it came with ingredients that were against my strict diet.I offered to pay for another one but the owner refused to take my money and insisted on making me another pizza free of charge.
The Algrave,where we spent a week, boasts of 300 days of sunshine a year,excellent food and pristine beaches set against the cliffs.all at a reasonable price, a fraction of what you would pay in Florida.The people of Portugal are warm, engaging and proud to share  their culture and land with visiting foreigners The country is clean safe and easy to find your way around.Renting a car was inexpensive(120Euros for 9 days)and allowed us to explore out of the way villages and beaches. On one drive we travelled to St. Vincent to see the famous lighthouse guarding the Atlantic Ocean. .
Having visited over 60 countries worldwide Portugal is highly recommended as a destination to counter our cold Canadian winters.
 After leaving Portugal and arriving in Torremolina in the heart of the Costa Del Sol,we quickly settled in  our 4 Starr hotel on Playa del Bajondillo..Mornings we walked the 7 km boardwalk;with the occasional trip up the steep slope to the Plaza Costa del Sol,followed by a leisurely afternoon taking the sun.Three days we booked excursions to Gibraltar,Granada and Malaga.
The Costa del Sol, 300 km of beach between Malaga and Gibraltar,is saturated with resorts and hotels,devoted to foreigners looking for the warmth and sun(330 days) it brings.The Brits,Danes,, Germans and some Canadians are here.A very civilized and tourist friendly atmosphere exists with accommodation and service for all tastes.
I personally found the Costa del Sol too  commercialized as well as some in the tourist service industry rude and arrogant.
Your choice whether to visit Portugal or Spain very much depends if you see yourself as a  tourist or an independent travellor. The choice is yours. Safe travels.


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