Soifer family vacation to Southern Portugal and Spain - April 2019
  • Day14


    April 28, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    We had about an hour drive to the Lisbon airport this morning so we set an alarm for 7:15 and packed out. We grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel restaurant and it was phenomenal - the best of the trip. Massive buffet with all these yummy juices and treats from the kitchen. Super special last meal. We had a pretty easy drive to the airport and then we returned our car and checked in! We snuck through the priority line in passport control even though the kids needed to be under two (whoops). We had to take an annoying bus to our plane but we are homeward bound. Until next time Portugal!Read more

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  • Day13


    April 27, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Kids were up early-ish again but it was ok as we wanted to head out for our lunch in Comporta - a 2.5 hour drive away. Last stop of the trip! We packed and headed down for breakfast and the playroom (for the kids) before hitting the road. We powered through the drive (and had to do a looooooot of car passing on the two lane highway) before hitting Comporta and driving up a dirt road (again!) was so worth it as we literally found paradise at the Comporta Cafe! The restaurant was right on the beach, the day was absolutely gorgeous and we sat outside on the terrace for almost four hours (literally - they actually asked us very politely if we could move to seats on the beach after three hours so they could use the table). We had the nicest server who gave the kids sunhats and bandaids and we had grilled fish and three (!!) bottles of delicious white wine from Comporta. It was the best. The kids played in the sand while we hung out and then we took turns taking them down to the ocean to jump in the waves. The water as freezing, but it was calm enough for them to jump in and out of and they had so much fun. Then it was the hard part of saying goodbye to Rin and Kyle who were heading back to Lisbon for an early flight out tomorrow. We headed out soon after with a pledge to return one day for the 20 minute drive to our last stop - Sublime Comporta. The hotel was gorgeous - probably too fancy for our dirty crew - set in the woods with the nicest staff ever. We played in the kids' pool (cold) and playroom for a bit before heading to our room. I showered with the girls and we snuggled in the big bed and hung out and napped/watched Portuguese TV for a bit. It was very nice. Later on we got dressed and had a drink outside on the patio - it was so nice out! We went into the gorgeous restaurant for dinner and it was super fancy. Of course the kids were awful but luckily they could run out to the garden and play outside a bit. The food was lovely but we thought just ok for the price which was very expensive for Portugal. We went back to the hotel to put the kids to bed and then Matt and I sat on our deck and had a final glass of wine!Read more

  • Day12


    April 26, 2019 in Portugal

    Kids were up before 8:00am again - what is up with this?? We dragged ourselves out of bed and headed down the hill for breakfast. It was surprisingly good for such a small place! The hotel has a really nice kids' playroom near the breakfast room so the children played there for a bit while we finished eating in peace. It was sunny out so we walked back up to the playground for a bit. Hannah had fun jumping as far as she could off the swing! After that we packed up a snack and our bathing suits and headed in the car for beach day at Bordeira Beach, about 15 minutes away. We got to the parking lot and walked through to find a huge natural lagoon like thing that we needed to cross to get over to the beach. The kids were nervous to cross it so Rin and Kyle put them on their shoulders and we all waded across. It was super windy out, but the location completely made up for it. The sand was perfect and we huddled behind a dune and the kids played in the calm river/lagoon thing. Of course they didn't mind at all that it was so windy. The actual ocean was about a 400 meter walk away and was quite rough so we were glad for the lagoon/river! The beach, though, was phenomenal and massive! Just a huge expanse of gorgeous, uncrowded beach surrounded by cliffs, reminding me a bit of the Northern California coastline. The kids played for a good long while - running up and down the dunes and building sandcastles. When we lay down behind the dunes it was "almost" warm enough to sunbathe :) After a few hours we waded back to the car (the kids did it themselves this time!) and drove back along the cliffs to view the unreal coastline. This part of the Algarve is on a national park so there is no building on it and most of the beaches you have to hike down to. One day we need to come back and explore it all. On the way back up to the hotel we stopped in Carrapateria to pick up groceries for the night. It was 3:00 in the afternoon but the store still wasn't open - ha! We stopped by a cafe with a ton of bicyclists in spandex for an ice cream before Rin and I walked over to the shop to scrounge up what we could for dinner - which wasn't much to be honest. The kids took a five minute dip in the pool before declaring it "too cold" and went back up to the room for a little rest time. I took a mountain bike out and went on a short ride of the property. I wish I could have gone longer! I came back and started dinner - Marcela Hazan tomato sauce and roasted zucchini and Kyle made chicken. We fed the kids even though the played the whole "we are starving" and then ate nothing game. We had a hard time putting them to bed and they ended up coming back out to play a game of cards before finally going to bed. The grownups ate a very civilized dinner and then played some cards (hearts - Kyle won and Rin was not pleased) before going to bed!Read more

  • Day11


    April 25, 2019 in Portugal

    On the way to the resort we passed through the cute village of Carrapateria - it was sort of like a little hippie/surf town and so very different from the massive, touristy resorts on the eastern side of the coast. We headed down a small dirt road (of course) with chickens and donkeys to our next spot - Monte da Villarhina - which was truly stunning - nestled in a valley and super rustic but modern at the same time - fantastic. We had Casa do Forno which was three connecting rooms with a huge living space and terrace - it was perfect for all of us. We set off to explore the property as it was (finally) sunny and found an amazing children's playground with a slide, swings and (best of all) a rope swing. The kids were in love and played for a good while before going to check out the lovely pool. There were frogs which the kids thought was really cool. Of course they wanted to go in the pool even though it was chilly and they didn't have their suits. They went in their undies and played until they got too cold and started screaming :) We went back to our rooms for drinks and new clothes and drove to a pizza place in a nearby "town". There were sheep and it was the cutest little place with DELICIOUS pizza. Hannah was complaining a bit about her stomach so we took the kids home to bed where (luckily) they seemed to fall asleep ok. The grownups had another drink at the house before heading to bed!Read more

  • Day11


    April 25, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    For the first time this trip the girls woke up early - 7:20 (ugh). We got dressed and walked over to the breakfast building for one of our best breakfasts to date - so yummy! It was a bit chilly but not raining at least and the kids REALLY wanted to go swimming so we changed into their suits and went to the family pool. The space is amazing and I can only imagine how perfect it is when the weather is nice. Regardless, the girls had a super fun time swimming and played for almost an hour before they finally got too cold. Ana - the super nice kids club lady was there so they colored and ate cookies for awhile as they dried off. We stayed until about 11:30 then went back to the room to pack up while the kids played on this giant cow slide near our room. It was their favorite thing for sure! We hopped back in the car and started driving west along the coast to our lunch destination - BJ's Oceanside. The restaurant was RIGHT on the beach and the kids had fun playing in the sand and searching for shells but it was SUPER windy and chilly out. Again with the bad weather! The restaurant was a British joint which was kind of random/funny but the location was superb and the kids were able to play while we ate which was a bonus. We had grilled fish and froze our butts off :) We were happy to warm up back in the car and drove another hour and a half to the western Algarve and our next spot for two days - Monte da Vilharina.Read more

  • Day10


    April 24, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ 🌬 17 °C

    We woke up late again to absolutely pissing rain :( We packed up and all made breakfast together before heading out in the pouring rain for the 2.5 hour drive back into Portugal and the "sunny" Algarve. Lots of twisty roads getting out of the Spanish mountains before finally getting on a normal highway! We got to our hotel - Villa Monte Farmhouse - which is an amazing sort of boho chic farmhouse in Moncarapacho in the eastern Algarve. If it weren't raining like crazy it would have been PERFECT - tons of places for the kids to run and play, lots of outdoor seating and a wonderful children's pool. Ugh - bad luck. We checked into our rooms which are wonderful. We have two connecting rooms and they even had child sized slippers and robes which was a nice touch. After dropping our stuff we walked over to A Terra - the outstanding restaurant at the hotel for pizza lunch (so good) and cocktails. The kids were even well behaved! After lunch the kids went to a cookie making workshop which was nice as it continued to pour rain while Matt caught up on some work and Rin and I went to the gym. Matt took the girls to the lobby afterwards to watch Moana on their big screen while Rin and I got cleaned up to meet the boys in the lobby for happy hour! After the movie there was enough of a break in the rain where the kids could go outside and play chase with some of the other kids at the resort. We also got some bread to feed the fish and turtles in the pond. It's such a shame the weather sucks as the property and outdoor areas are truly amazing. It started to rain again so we all met back inside for dinner at A Terra again. We all got steaks (Evie ate half of mine) then the kids watched a show while the adults finished and had more wine. It was such a nice (albeit rainy) dinner. I put the girls to bed at almost 10:00!! and we all passed out soon after. Good day today.Read more

  • Day9


    April 23, 2019 in Spain

    By some miracle Hannah slept all night with no coughing until 10:00am!! We feel like new people. Rin and Kyle came over and we all made breakfast together at our place which was nice. Poor Rin is coming down with Hannah's cold though which is not fun :( We wanted to go on a walk this morning as that is what this region of Spain is known for, but it started pouring rain and then hailing (!!!) on our walk. We got into Alajar and basically turned right back around to walk home. Sort of bummer although we did see some goats in the middle of the road and some of the black Iberian pigs this region is known for which was fun. We came back to the house and had leftover gazpacho and cheese for lunch and then headed to the car to go see the Gruta de Marvailles caves back in Aracena on another crazy twisty road. Barf. We bought our tickets and hung out for a bit before going into the caves. The grownups were a little claustrophobic but Hannah LOVED it. Evie of course refused to walk and I had to put her in the carrier :/ It's hard to believe that we were under the castle in the town! After the caves, Rin and Kyle headed to grocery shop for dinner and we headed back to the cottage. The sun came out and even though it was a bit chilly, the kids played tag and chase with our neighbors next door and Hannah had a gymnastics competition with the older girl - ha! We all met back at the house and Kyle made a pasta for us all. The girls gobbled it up and then went to bed upstairs while we ate downstairs - cough free!Read more

  • Day8


    April 22, 2019 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    The road we took to into Spain (following our GPS advice) had to be the twistiest, curviest almost all dirt road that I've ever seen. Woah! We thought we would have to pass through border patrol but there was nothing when we crossed and then we were in Spain! We finally arrived in the small town of Aracena in the Andalusia region of Spain but completely forgot about the one hour time change and arrived much later than anticipated. We had planned to go to the caves, but it was too late so we found a nice cafe by a playground and had lunch (pork of course) and beer while the kids played. It was really nice. The town was cute and it even had a bull ring! The people are incredibly friendly (even though there is not much English spoken here) and it is just gorgeous. After lunch we headed over to hotel - Molino Rio Alajar - in the teeny town of Alajar, Spain. It was more twisty roads and one SUPER narrow driveway before we got to our "rural casa". The hotel is a series of cottages surrounded by the gorgeous Andalusian mountains. We are staying in El Conejo which is two stories with a huge fireplace and kitchen and lovely patio. Monica - the owner - shopped for us and made us a massive dinner (Alentejo chicken, gazpacho, salad - just a ton of food) which was perfect as the shops are quite far away. We sat outside with some snacks they had bought for us and drinks from the honor bar and watched the kids play on the lawn with some German kids next door. They ended up playing for hours - tag and hide and seek - and it was so fun to watch. It started to cool down in the evening so we decided to move inside for dinner. The kids ate and I put them to bed before the adults sat down to eat at our table. Dinner was wonderful, but still lots of coughing from Hannah. Here is hoping to a good nights sleep (finally).Read more

  • Day8


    April 22, 2019 in Portugal

    It was NOT a good night sleep after all :( Hannah woke up at 1:30am with a coughing fit and woke Evie up. Evie came in to sleep with me and Matt stayed with Hannah who finally stopped coughing around 4:00am and we were all able to sleep a bit. Double ugh. We woke up and dressed for a final bleary breakfast at the hotel (delicious) and then the kids wanted to do a treasure hunt. The hunt turned out to be super fun - they had to follow clues all over the resort before they could get their prize! Afterwards, they got to take a donkey cart ride all over the property and even got to the hold the reins! They were very excited about that (even though poor Hannah was coughing the whole time). After the donkeys we packed up the room and then headed out to make our way over to Spain !!Read more

  • Day7


    April 21, 2019 in Portugal

    Omg what an awful night. Hannah had been fighting a cold all week and woke up coughing at 4:00am - croup. Coughed alllllll morning. It was so painful to hear and none of us slept. Definitely not the way we wanted to spend Easter morning. We went straight to breakfast so that I could give her her steroid medicine - I remember being on the phone with our pediatrician in NY (at 3am no less) sobbing on the phone. Sigh. On the plus side the breakfast was wonderful! After breakfast we came back to the hotel for the egg hunt. Hannah was feeling a bit better as the steroid helped her breathing so they searched for eggs and opened their baskets. They were so excited. We let them watch a little tv while the adults power napped and then put them in the stroller and went for a walk on the backside of the property. I had hoped that Hannah would fall asleep since she was so tired but of course she didn't. The plus side was that the walk was gorgeous and the day was beautiful - the wildflowers were out and fields were filled with yellows, purples and white flowers. The path was a little rough for our beat up stroller but we made it work :) After our walk the kids REALLY wanted to swim so we put on their suits and headed to the pool. The water was super cold but they had fun jumping in and out and it was sunny enough for the adults to lay out in their suits! Matt got a cheese board for lunch/snack and it was nice to eat by the pool in the sun despite poor Hannah's constant coughing. We stayed at the pool pretty much all day. After pool time we decided to take the kids on a bike ride as they had some bikes with kid seats on them. We started the ride which was super gravelly and almost slipped and fell over a hundred times - nerve wracking! Finally we made it through to the trail and it was gorgeous - wildflowers and birds everywhere. We rode past a lake and saw a pack of wild horses!! The girls were ecstatic. We got a little lost on the way back but eventually made it to the hotel bar for happy hour and snacks and played cards for awhile before heading back to the room to get ready dinner. The kids were understandably cranky and tired so we fed them and they played for awhile before Matt put them to bed. We watched them on the camera so the adults had their own dinner! It started to get a bit chilly so we moved inside for dessert but it was nice to have some adult time. Hoping we get a good nights sleep!Read more