In 1979, Robin Stegner visited Spain, and during that visit she had an encounter with another traveler who encouraged her to visit Spain’s neighbor to the west – claiming it was much more beautiful....

In 1979, Robin Stegner visited Spain, and during that visit she had an encounter with another traveler who encouraged her to visit Spain’s neighbor to the west – claiming it was much more beautiful.

More than three-and-a-half decades later, Stegner was presented the opportunity to see that for herself when she spent two weeks in Portugal this past October.

“Portugal is a country with incredible history, great food and people who are very friendly and helpful,” said Stegner this past Monday when she talked about her trip as part of the Redwood Falls Public Library’s winter travel series.

Stegner and a travel companion spent seven days in Lisbon and another week traveling along the coast just enjoying the scenery with no specific agenda.

According to Stegner, one of the most significant events in the history of Portugal occurred in 1755. That year a major earthquake hit killing 90,000 people, destroying 18,000 buildings and leaving Lisbon in ruins.

Stegner said when one visits Lisbon the earthquake had such an impact even today there are signs on buildings that indicate whether it survived the earthquake or had to be rebuilt, and she said some of the stone from the damaged buildings was used to create a beautiful form of artwork that paved the streets.

Portugal, said Stegner, was once one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and much of that had to do with Prince Henry the Navigator. Henry, the prince who would never be king, took on the role of exploration, and through his some of the most significant discoveries were made.

Those who traveled to Europe, to America and around the world brought wealth back with them that helped to make Portugal very strong in terms of economics.

Walking the streets of communities in Portugal, Stegner said one notices how pedestrian friendly they are, as well as the fact that there is no litter.

However, graffiti, she added, is another issue for the country.

In some of the coastal communities, Stegner said they would walk the streets in the middle of the day and notice very few, if any, people.

When they asked a local business owner why that was, Stegner said they were told most people found jobs in the bigger cities and either travel there for work or have moved there and use homes in the other communities as weekend and vacation spots.

The coast along Portugal, said Stegner, has beautiful seascapes and she said it was a thrill to see places, like Cape St. Vincent standing and looking to the west toward America. It was in that moment, Stegner said, she had a different perspective on those who explored the new world.

Visiting Gibraltar was a highlight for Stegner, who said it is not just a rock.

Stegner said Portugal was a wonderful experience, adding she enjoys the chance to talk with the people and see how they live their lives.