The End to a Wonderful TripApril 1 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C
We came home from our three month trip, a week ago. The last few days in Lisbon were spent wandering around in the sunshine and thinking about all the wonderful things that we did during our time in this interesting country.
Starting in the warmer Algarve area was a good idea and meeting up with Donna was a lot of fun. She is an experienced traveller so she was always easy to be with. Lagos and Tavira were very good cities to use as home bases for that southern part of the country.
We really enjoyed the drive up the east part of Portugal with all of its castles and forts. We heard many stories of epic battles and romances of Romans, Moors, Goths and even the Knights Templar. We found that the people who lived close to the Spanish border were wonderful, warm and friendly.
Evora, in the centre of Portugal was another very good home base. We met up once again with Donna in this university city and with our rental car were able to see many of the sights around this old city. Cork oaks grow in this area, marble is mined and Alentejo wine is renowned. We witnessed a car accident and were happy to find out that the man in the car was well enough to be released from the hospital.
On we went to the incredible town of Monsanto, a village built into and around giant boulders where it was very cold and windy. It was one of the most amazing places that we have ever seen on our travels.
North of Monsanto is a beautiful city called Castelo de Vide with its beautiful parks, castle and landscape. This is another place that we could stay in for an extended period of time. It is a peaceful and old fashioned town with a good infrastructure.
Further north is the old city of Lamego, close to the Douro River and in a major grape growing area. We felt pretty good about ourselves when we climbed the almost 700 stairs up to the church, part of a route that pilgrims take once a year.
In Porto, we gave up our rental car and met up with Vaughan, an long-time friend of ours. Porto is perfect to use as a home base for the northwestern part of Portugal. There is just so much to see and do and it has a nice vibe for a big city. The bookstore that inspired the Harry Potter books was a treat to visit. One day, the three of us took the train and went to the ancient city of Guimaraes with its 10th Century castle.
We parted company with Vaughan and went by train to several cities on the west side of Portugal. We stayed a few days in Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal, then on to Coimbra, a vibrant university city, and finally Sintra, where we stayed in a great BnB owned by a British couple. A traveller could spend a month and not see everything there is to see in this part of Portugal!
We stayed in the centre of Lisbon for a couple of nights before flying to the island of Madeira, off the coast of Morocco. What hikes we were able to take. Driving a car here was somewhat challenging due to the mountainous nature of the island but all in all it was quite the adventure for us. Lovely!
Flying to the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores only took a couple of hours and we were in a new world. We had been looking forward to this part of our trip as our daughters and their families were joining us for the March Break - 9 adults and 3 children. What fun we had! ‘Carrot soup’ hot springs, mountains, green valleys and a great holiday house right on the ocean. The time with them went quickly but it was awesome.
We originally had planned to visit three more of the nine islands in the Azores but finally decided that we wanted to stay on Sao Miguel longer. It is a beautiful place. Once again we found a perfect BnB in the centre of the island, called Quinta Dos Bravos. Since we had a rental car, we could go to a different part of the island ever day. We loved it!
The three months were quickly coming to an end. We flew back to Lisbon where we stayed for 5 nights and did a lot of up and down walking. There are many places to see including the old city of Belem with its fantastic Royal Coach Museum and Pasteis de Natas bakery. It was definitely Spring in Lisbon and we enjoyed our walks in the sun, under the blue skies.
We were a little worried about leaving the country as we were 4 or 5 days over the 90 days we were allowed to stay in Europe. I had contacted the Portuguese embassy in Canada and was told that we would have to pay a fee in Portugal for staying over the time limit. Well, we didn’t follow through with that, but all worked out well. We weren’t questioned at the airport and we didn’t say anything either. We are not sure what the consequences would have been if they were upset with us. We made it happily home without incident and were looking forward to seeing our family again. We had a really good time in Portugal but coming home was great too.Read more