Our next port was Lisbon, Portugal.  Hey!  You know what Portugal has??  Wine!  Here is the description of the tour I booked through MSC:

ARRABIDA WINERY TOUR

Depart from the pier and, passing over 25th April Bridge, sister bridge of the Golden Gate, you will drive to the base of the Statue of “Christ the King”, from where magnificent views of Lisbon can be seen. Our excursion continues in the town of Azeitao, renowned for its famous pastries and for the “Moscatel de Setubal” wine. We will visit a local wine lodge for wine tasting session and to learn more about how this sweet aperitif wine is produced. Next, we will proceed towards the “Parque Natural da Arrabida” – National Park – that was established to protect the wild, beautiful landscape and rich variety of birds and wildlife found here. The road winds across the mountain ridge and offers stunning views of Setúbal and Tróia. Return to Lisbon to enjoy a sightseeing tour and then reach “Rossio” where we will stop for a little time at leisure. Return to the port.

This tour was $56 per person, so again, really reasonable.  We again had our tour tickets left in our cabin the evening before and as before we were to meet in the lounge to check in, then head to the busses for our tour.  Also, as before, we were combined with the German tour, however this was the first time I felt like the guide was not equally fluent in both languages.  This tour had a lot of drive time and as we went along the guide would give what seemed like a huge discourse of German commentary and then like five sentences in English.  Look, I’m impressed as hell with these multilingual guides, but we definitely felt like the afterthought on this tour.

As an additional note, the tour was pretty much in the exact opposite order as the description.  That, for me, is no big deal.  I totally understand that scheduling changes happen and as long as I see everything that I am supposed to see, I’m good.  So to recap, our tour went from the port, to the National Park, to the wine tasting, to Christ the King, to Rossio, back to the port.  This was also the longest bus trip we had, partly due to the distances covered but partly due to the National Park part.  That is really just driving through the park, not really a stop or anything.  We stopped for a photo op at one point but really it was just a long, scenic way to get to the wine lodge.

We finally arrived in the town of Azeitao.  Cute little town, totally devoted to wine and pastries, and really, what’s wrong with that! 

We had about a two block walk from where the bus parked to the wine lodge.  Once we arrived at the lodge, we were actually split into two groups based on language.  We got a bit of a history of winemaking in the area, which I always enjoy. 

Then moved out to the small vineyard and into the cellars.  There are some really cool parts of the cellars, including the liquid history: several bottles of every vintage bottled, indexed and preserved. 

We then moved into the tasting room and were each given a sample of two different vintages of the Muscatel de Setúbal.  These wines are renowned for their sweetness and therefore not my favorite.  The crackers were good though!

After everyone had a chance to taste and purchase anything they wanted, it was back to the bus for what turned out to be a much shorter ride to our next stop, the statue of Christ the King.  As it was Easter Sunday, there were plenty of people at this site.  Here there is a statue that mirrors and faces the statue in Brazil, Christ the Redeemer.  From here you have a fantastic view of the 25th April bridge, a twin of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  The bridge was built so that the citizens of Lisbon would have an easier time getting to the statue on the other side of the Tagus River.  We were also able to visit the souvenir shop and the snack bar if necessary…and maybe utilize the free wifi!

Our next stop was The Rossio, otherwise known as King Pedro IV Square.  We did not have a lot of time here due to someone being late getting back on the bus at the previous stop, but we for sure had enough time to get a gelato! This area seems like it might be a fun area to explore a bit more, but since we were short on time, that’ll have to wait.

Back to the ship for the Easter Dinner festivities, not really, but they did have some really cool chocolate sculptures!  No show tonight, but I did manage to blow some cash on the fragrance sale! 

This is also where I started losing track of what time it was.  When we left Cadiz for Lisbon we had to move our clocks forward one hour.  Then when we left Lisbon to head back to Spain we had to change them back.  This is new to me.  After 16 cruises, this is the first time the ship has changed with the port instead of just staying on ships time for the whole cruise.  It was confusing!

Tomorrows port is Vigo, Spain.  Before this cruise I had never even heard of it, but it left quite an impression!

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Posted by:Rachel Harrington

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