Last year, we finally decided to visit Portugal. Specifically, we visited the Silver Coast (Primarily Obidos) ( 1h5m north-west of Lisbon) and Lisbon. Within 3 days of returning home, I booked a return visit for the following year (2018). The travel companions were different but the itineraries were exact - 3 nights in Praia d'el Rey and 3 nights at the Lisbon Fontecruz. Now that I am back home again, guess what? I am planning another trip to Portugal.This time the plan is to visit the Algarve for a golfing trip much like 2018's expedition.
What makes Portugal so special?
You need to put Portugal on your "GO" list. From April through October, the weather is perfect which is a great place to start. The off months are also temperate and severe weather is a rarity. Secondly, the food is wonderful driven largely by a seafood centric menu. And thirdly, of all of the countries that I have visited, Portugal is one of the most affordable. On our opening night on the Silver Coast, eight of us enjoyed a meal of delicious Portuguese style charcuterie with an assortment of cheeses and meats, a variety of different seafood and meat dishes, salads, deserts, beers and 10 bottles of wine. We ate and drank like Vikings. Final bill? €250 or $275 for eight people. It was epic.
Speaking of wine, Portuguese wines are wonderful especially those from the Duoro Valley. The Duoro river is one of the primary rivers of the Iberian Peninsula and vineyards by its banks are abundant. You don't hear of too many Portuguese wines in the States mainly because most of the wineries are small producers. It accrues to your benefit when you travel to Portugal!
Weather, price & food (and wine) are great places to start but there is so much more. Portugal's history of world exploration make it a fascinating destination for those keen on seeing a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The parish of Belém in Lisbon is the home of Belém Tower, the Monument to the Discoveries, the Thai Pavilion, and the Jerónimos Monastery - all fascinating destinations. While in Belém have a Pastéis de Belém, an egg tart pastry that was originally produced by the Monks. In 1837, they sold the recipe to a sugar refiner who produces them still. Apparently, only 3 people know the recipe.
Lisbon itself is a magnificent city with extremely interesting neighborhoods, a rich food heritage, varied architecture and a genial populace of just over 500,000. Many speak English, especially the younger people, and you will never feel lost or out of place.
I stayed twice at the Lisboa Fontecruz, which is perfectly situated on the city's main street, the fashionable Avenida Liberdade. I highly recommend this 72 room hotel. It's close to everywhere you want to go - walkable to hundreds of restaurants, bars and shops and if it isn't, the clean and safe metro is directly across the street that will get you to your destination. Also, if you are an UBER user, Lisbon is inundated with drivers. Order a ride and you will likely get picked up in an E-class Mercedes or a Tesla.
Portugal, you have me sold. I cannot wait to visit again. Obrigado.