Note that since we will be in Portugal next week, there will be no blog posts. But don't worry, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to see what we are up to! I promise to try to get better about posting to social media!
Set on the western most edge of Spain, the long, thin country of Portugal is not one frequented by many tourists. This is one of the reasons we chose to visit! That, the cheap airfare we scored back in November, and the fact that people absolutely gush about this little country. I'll admit I've spent more time planning this trip than a lot of others, but I feel like it's now a "big trip" for us. Living in Germany, we were able to do trips like this more often, and the flights were much shorter, meaning it didn't quite feel like such an undertaking. Now that getting to Europe takes 8+ hours of just flight time, trips like this have gone from "weekend jaunts" to full blown, highly coordinated weeks of carefully curated sites to see, things to do, and food to eat (and wine to drink). And let's not even mention how long I've spent researching places to stay. So what are some of our plans for Portugal? Read on to find out!
At first, we thought we would pop over to Seville since it's only a 4.5 hour drive from Lisbon. But, once I got into researching all the things I wanted to see and do in Spain, specifically Andalusia, I realized that one week wasn't enough to do both Portugal AND Andalusia the justice they deserved. So Spain was nixed, and a more thorough itinerary of Portugal was planned.
Our trip starts this Friday (eek!!) when we leave Houston, fly to Amsterdam and then on to Lisbon. We immediately get in our car and drive about an hour and a half outside of the city to Fatima. This little town was made famous 100 years ago when three shepherd children saw visions of Mary once a month for 6 months. We are stopping to spend the night here, attend Mass the next morning, and then we are off again!
From Fatima, we are planning on stopping at some caves nearby before heading on to Porto. We will have two days in Porto. Our only plans right now are to do a walking tour (per our usual when visiting a new city), check out a world famous book store, and tour some Port wine caves. I'm not even sure I like port, but I figured, the best stuff will probably be in Porto (where Port gets it's name from), so I should probably try it there. If I like it, cool. If not, well at least I tried the best!
After spending a couple days in the northern part of Portugal, we drive down to Lagos on the Algarve coast. On the way, we are planning on detouring to a lake for a short hike. The unique feature of this lake is that it has a hole in it! While it's technically part of a dam system, the pictures of this place look pretty cool and it'll be interesting to see some of the Portuguese countryside.
In Lagos, our only plan is to go on a boat ride to see the caves. There are lots of beaches nearby, but since it's February and not really beach weather, we may just visit for the views. We briefly thought about taking dive gear, but decided that a small rental car + luggage for 3 people + a stroller + a baby meant that there would be no room for it. Alas, we will just have to plan a dive trip to take us back!
From Lagos, we head back to Lisbon to finish up our week. A day trip out to Sintra and Pena Palace is definitely on the list, as is another walking tour of Lisbon. I'd also love to take in one of the famous sunsets from one of the Miradouro (vantage points) in the city and listen to some traditional Fado music, but beyond that, there is nothing planned.
As Aaron and I have traveled, we've found that it's nice to have a mix of things to do and downtime to just explore. That way, we can get carried away eating at a restaurant, tasting wine, or just people watching, but we still have some stuff to do pre-planned to keep us occupied. We love to explore and get lost in new cities, so it's important to us that we have the time to do that and our days aren't completely scheduled out to the quarter hour. It's a delicate balance for sure!
Right now, the weather for all of Portugal looks spectacular! It's going to be a little cooler than Texas (not that we mind in the least), but a friend from Michigan that's joining us is looking forward to it being quite a bit warmer and sunnier than winter in Michigan. Again, this is one of the many reasons we think traveling to Europe, especially southern Europe, in the off season is always a good idea!
Pinterest has been instrumental in planning this trip, as well as AirBnB. If you've been to Portugal and have some place you think we need to see or somewhere we need to eat, let us know! We still have lots of open time in our itinerary and would love some personal recommendations!