Portugal through the eyes of a Lowlander – What would a Scot and a Brit be doing in Portugal you might ask, well, all was purely accidental for Rev Dr James Patrick and Prof Nigel Worden.
“I went to Portugal with no expectations. I was tagging along with Nigel, who is a professor in history at the University of Cape Town,” confessed Patrick.
The two were on their way to the UK but as they planned their flight, discovered that it would be cheaper to fly through Lisbon, Portugal than to fly directly to the UK. With the result, they spent three weeks in Portugal and it turned into a holiday.
“I was struck by there being so many towns built on hills, all of the villages are built on a hill and the houses are built on top of each other,” Patrick explained.
Another thing that stood out for Patrick were the trams in Lisbon. He admitted that he marveled at them going up and down and taking the various narrow twists and turns. Patrick recalls giving way for a tram by stepping back and noticing the smile on the driver’s face.
Patrick takes us to Alfama, a district in Lisbon and tells us that it was totally different as it was the old Arab quarter. He adds a history lesson in by telling us of the earthquake of 1752 in Lisbon which left the place in ruins. It was then that they decided to build a new town afterwards.
“It reminded me of Edinburgh in Scotland, there was an old town there too built on a hill and they decided to build a new town on the plane,” he said.
Being a minister there was no denying that he could not escape from the beauty of the churches.
“Generally the churches are beautiful and the architecture is magnificent. They are old but they are living,” he exclaimed.
Not only did the churches catch his eye but he also noticed big old monasteries.
“They were closed by an act of law in the 1830s. They were just left and now the government is ploughing money back into it. I don’t understand this as Portugal is a catholic country,” Patrick pondered aloud.
If given the opportunity to go back, Patrick exclaimed that he would go back to this beautiful country. We wondered with all this praise, was there anything that Portugal could improve on
“We hired a car in Porto, their road signage is less than clear for visitors, so please keep the road signs clear,” he joked.