I left my previous job and had some time before I began my new job. So of course, where should I travel? I called my travel agent and with this short time frame, she had two options: Ireland or Portugal. I chose Portugal. So off I went for another adventure! I have been using the same tour company, Trafalgar. This was my 4th trip with Trafalgar. I've met some great folks along the way throughout the years, some I've seen again and keep in contact with. I really like how well organized each day is, packed with lots to do and see, but balanced with a good amount of time for myself. In October, I'll be heading to New Zealand, my 5th trip with Trafalgar, can't wait!
If you just want to see photos, just scroll through them. If you want to know more about the details of the photos, read on...
I arrived to Lisbon airport on Wednesday morning. We were transported to our hotel where I had the opportunity to shower and freshen up after a long day of traveling. In the evening, we went to a restaurant to have our welcome dinner. Our group was quite large, over 40 people.
We spent day 2 in Lisbon, exploring the culture and an amazing monastery, Hieronymite Monastery, a UNESCO site. In the evening, we went to a Fado Dinner which is a traditional Portuguese dinner with music and singing. It was stellar!
On day 3 we had an amazing lunch at a horse farm on our way to Algarve. These are Lusitano horses that are descendants of horses used during the days of royalty. It was a great experience, and an amazing meal!
We spent Day 4 in the Algarve region, known for its beautiful beaches. I also went to Faro and explored a bit. We had an authentic dinner there called Cataplana.
On the 5th day we headed to Evora where I saw a chapel made of human bones. Kind of put me off my lunch! We also went to a village called Monsaraz. It’s enclosed and has been around since about 1290 I believe. It was a beautiful town and I bought some treats from there to bring back home.
We continued on to a town called Castelo de Vide on the 6th day. We were en route to Viseu. This is where the famous Dao vineyards are. We had an amazing dinner with wine pairing, it was fantastic!
The next day we headed to the Douro Valley on our way to Porto. We enjoyed a cruise through the Douro River where we saw another UNESCO site: Eiffel Bridge. We also went to Guimaraes to see a castle from the 10th century.
On day 8 we woke up in Porto and we explored the city, rich with culture: gothic Church of St. Francis, the Stock Exchange Palace, Bom Jesus – another UNESCO site where you arrive through a funicular, and we even had a port tasting at a cellar! I was able to have time to take a gondola up to a bridge. I’m terrified of heights, but that hasn’t stopped me yet! Our dinner this evening was amazing, all the seafood was so fresh – nothing like dinner at sunset by the beach!
We left Porto on day 9 and headed to Coimbra and Fatima. In Coimbra we saw the University where JK Rowling was clearly inspired to write the Harry Potter books. The students there have been wearing capes for centuries. We went through the university, and it was almost like walking through the set of Harry Potter. I even saw the staircase that leads to a wall!! After this tour we went to the Templar city of Tomar. Here you can see that the Knights Templar had a prevalent existence in the 12th century. At the end of the day, we ended up in Fatima. While I am not Catholic, I attended mass at 9:30pm and it was a deeply spiritual experience.
Our last day touring Portugal, we went to another UNESCO site: Batalha Monastery. It was an amazing site to see! Massive walls and Gothic architecture. Afterwards we went to Nazare and Obidos. We had an opportunity to walk around these quaint little towns. At the end of the evening, we went to a lovely dinner in Lisbon once again. It was our Farewell dinner.
I made some great new friends that I continue to communicate with. I hope I get to see them all again in the future! Alexandra, Alejandro, Suzy, and Rosario & Neal made the trip extra fun and memorable. Alexandra (from NY) and I are two professional single women that love to travel all over the world! Alejandro (from San Diego) sat a row next to me every day in the bus and we had some nice chats and enjoyed a lovely beach day together. Suzy (from Australia) and I caused some trouble! Suzy and I sat together in the bus and had some great times together, mostly laughing and being loud. Rosario & Neal (from South Bend, IN) are non-stop laughter, I don’t think I ever stopped laughing around them!
I can’t help but smile when I think about Portugal… what a trip!!
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Have passport, will travel.