We were in such a hurry to arrive and now we wait, for boat parts that have been ordered and for mechanics to do the work. My wiser, younger sister has a saying "good news, bad news, whose to say?" So with that thought, we looked at this as our opportunity to travel inland and see the sights of Portugal that we would have missed if we had sailed on to our next port.
Renting a car is really easy, sign your name and drive away, and thanks to google maps we found Lisbon without a problem. Getting around on foot in Lisbon was another matter though. We discovered we are much better at navigating at sea than on land, thankfully or we may still be floating somewhere in the Atlantic. We had a long list of recommended sights from fellow travelers and tour books, getting to them seemed so elusive though. But by getting lost, pretty much everywhere, we realized that it didn't really matter where we ended up, we found unexpected treasures in the unlikeliest of places. Winding our way through the steep, tiled city streets we ran into a variety of street musicians, truly artistic graffiti, neighborhood festivals, colorful azulejos tiled buildings, public parks with large screens set up for watching the World Cup, we stopped for ginjinha - the favorite local drink, ate pastel de nata custard tarts, and usually by accident we encountered the historical sites, museums and cathedrals we were searching for.
With sore feet and miles of walking under our belt we left Lisbon to visit nearby Sintra with it's hill top Castle of the Moors and magical Pena Palace, that looked straight out of movie set but in reality is a centuries old residence of kings and queens. Our ability to get lost continued. When getting directions to hike up the hill we were told the route was well marked and easy to follow, obviously they didn't know us well. Somehow we took a wrong turn, ending up on a steep, uphill dirt path next to guys in rope climbing gear scaling rocks. We had managed to end up on the wrong side of the castle walls and received odd looks from tourists inside when we had to climb the tall stone wall to enter. Luckily we found an easier path down.
We made another overnight stop in Evora, described as the Tuscany of Portugal. Known for it's great local wines and farm to table food we looked forward to experiencing a few more good meals before returning to cooking on the boat. We were not disappointed, there was so much to learn from the enthusiastic chef that shared stories and cooking tips with us. We had to eat the black pork the area is known for, pigs that eat nothing but acorns that fall from the trees, try the local olive oil and wine, the organic produce, and the small boned sardines. He wanted us to come back to sample the blue tomatoes and white strawberries when they were ripe, who knew? There was a lot packed into this small, walled town, more cathedrals, roman baths and ruins, houses built into the old aqueducts, and a chapel made of bones (creepier than anticipated). We continued to get lost in the narrow streets and enjoyed where ever they led us. To keep up our energy we stopped for queijadas, the local cheese tarts, that we washed down with tiny beers, really tiny, served in juice glasses.
We were determined to pack as much of Portugal as possible into this road trip, making a few last stops. First there were the monolithes, ancient rock formations, much older and less advertised than Stonehenge, truly an amazing sight. We drove through the olive groves and the cork forests. Surprisingly cork is not just for wine bottle stoppers, they also make hats, purses, shoes, aprons, coasters, planters, bowls, and post cards out of it and it's a totally renewable resource. Our last stop was at a winery to sample more of the local wine and enjoy one last dinner in the middle of a vineyard.
Good news, bad news….all this waiting has given us time. Time to travel on land and time to appreciate Lagos, time to do yoga on a stationary surface, time for laundry, time to clean and maintain the boat, time for visits to the sandy beaches only accessible through the grottoes at low tide, time for a much needed pedicure, time for morning runs along the beach, time to try all the local specialties at nearby restaurants, time to retrieve our bike from the bottom of the harbor when it blew off the pier in a gust of wind, time to cook the fresh figs, white beets and tiny quail eggs from the farmers market, time to envy the friends that were moving on but also time to meet new ones arriving on boats daily, time for numerous trips to see our good friends at the local chandlery, time to make notes when the locals working on our boat tell us of all the wonderful places we need to visit when we do finally move on from here, time for Tony to figure out some of the repairs on his own, time to ponder the question "good news, bad news", and time to remember to be thankful for all this time we have while we continue to wait.