Our 32 day cruise began in Lisbon, Portugal. The Portuguese say Lisboa. Our cruise itinerary seemed to include every place that ended in “…land.” That would include England, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, many islands and finally Newfoundland. We accomplished our main goal. Get out of the August heat of Idaho. Greenland may have been my favorite.
The Seabourn Quest Cruise Ship
The Seabourn Quest cruise ship can have 450 passengers and 335 crew, or 785 total on board. In contrast, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas can have 7,084 guests and 2,204 crew members. That’s a floating city of 9,288 people. Depending upon what size comparison numbers are used, gross tonnage, length, passengers etc, our Seabourn Quest ship is about 1/7th the size of the largest ships. Our traditional sail-away party at the beginning of the cruise was embarrassingly small and quiet. But by the end of the cruise, after getting to know many of our fellow passengers, the pool deck farewell party was full of many friends made over the past 32 days.
Such a relatively small ship means it can go into small ports and Greenland fjords the larger ships cannot enter. The downside is some of these ports have no dock, so you need to board the lifeboats to go ashore. That is fine in calm weather, but the North Sea is not always so friendly. Several scheduled ports were canceled due to the rockin’ and rollin’ seas making boarding the tenders not possible.
The service was impeccable on Seabourn. No lines during the initial check in, no waiting for our room to be ready, no being shoved into a buffet line upon boarding, no waiting for luggage. It was like we were the only two being checked in that first day. The great service continued throughout the cruise.
Possibly the main characteristic which set this cruise apart from others was the high quality nightly entertainment and daily lectures. The entertainment was not the run-of-the mill cruise employees, but outstanding recording talents. Some groups from local areas we were visiting were brought on board, like the very enthusiastic Shamrock Tenors in Belfast, the fastest fiddle player Greta Salome from Iceland and a guitar duo claiming to be the fastest guitar players in the world, CH2 guitar duo also from an official video CH2 plays Hallelujah . Their comedians, lecturers and general entertainment were top notch as well. Did you know a guy named Eratosthenes accurately calculated the circumference of the earth in about 200BC? It seems odd that it never became fashionable for mothers to name their children after great mathematicians or thinkers of the world like, Pythagoras, Avagadro or Archimedes, but I digress.
For fear of missing the boat due to airline delays, we arrived in Portugal three days early. Lisbon and Porto are interesting cities for a stroll down the streets and fresh seafood. A beautiful and unique feature of buildings in Lisbon are their colorful tiled facades. During much of Portugal’s history, they were incredibly wealthy. The fine tile work was learned from Moors after the Portuguese conquered Morocco in a surprise one day battle in 1415. The Portuguese became obsessed with creating intricate tiles and perfected the mass production process.
Benjamin Moore is not in favor of tiles. This building may have not been painted in 300 years and still looks great! However, the tile generally does not go on all four sides of the buildings.
Anticipating a Photograph
Walking the streets near our hotel I was intrigued by the reflections of the buildings in the tops of parked cars. The black cars reflected best. Ideally the car was in the shade and the building in the sun. I likely took 50 photos over several days, trying to photograph the the yellow trolley cars unique to Portugal or the reflection of the tile work. I got neither in the above photo, but the bright color of the dress was helpful. The car for this reflection was a big BMW in a town full of tiny cars and motorcycles. Eventually the owners returned to their car and quickly sped off, not too interested in the artistic qualities of a scene I was using their car to photograph.
Igreja de São Roque Catholic Church
Anyone who has traveled to Europe is familiar with the vast number of beautiful, old, ornate churches. Most are older than the United States. On a European trip of any length, you eventually do not want to see yet another old church and courtyard. So I’m letting you know now that I’m posting photos of this 450 year old church at the very beginning of the trip and will NOT post another church photo until we get to Montreal.
This church was right around the corner from where we were staying in the Bairro Alto section of Lisbon. It is one of the few buildings which did not tumble down in the severe earthquake of 1755.
It is a wonder how they could build such structures 500 years ago that are still in use today. They don’t make ’em like they used to…
I really hate to be part of the crowd that photographs their food, but here goes. For me, experiencing the cuisine of the locale is a very important part of travel. I’ve never shied away from a local dish. I ate hagis in Scotland and guinea pig in Peru. Eating Guinea Pig in Peru . Octopus is frequently on the menus when near the coast of Spain and Portugal. So I had grilled octopus at my first opportunity. Dining outside, talking over the roar of the motorcycles, buses and traffic is all part of a very pleasant experience in Portugal.
Whether in Spain or Portugal, they will serve you octopus any way you like it, as long as it is grilled with lots of olive oil. The food is great, always fresh and generally served the very same way at every restaurant with little to no variation.
We spent a month in Portugal in 2016. It was pleasant to return to a spot we liked and were somewhat familiar with. Because of our previous visit, I have numerous other blogs on Portugal for those of you interested in a sardine or umbrella festival or boats with rude sayings carved on their bow. Previous blogs on Portugal
Tomorrow we board the ship.