Friday, April 13, 2012

Why haven't I been to Portugal?

As regular readers will know, not only did I spend six months campervanning around Europe as a child, I also lived there for three and a half years as an English teacher, making the most of living centrally in Slovakia and Germany to take lots of short trips to many corners of the continent. Somehow, however, with all this European experience, I have never been to Portugal.

I can quite easily forgive myself for not having made it to places like Romania and Bulgaria yet - when I lived close by, visas were still required and they weren't the more mainstream destinations they've become. Ditto for Iceland - it's not exactly round the corner, though I totally want to get there. But Portugal, as you know, is right next to Spain, is a short flight from the UK or from Germany, is a great destination, and a country that several good friends have regularly recommended, yet I never made it there!

I will, of course, I'm sure. With my in-laws in Europe we always have an excuse to return there and I'm keen to try to add on a "side trip" to somewhere new each time we fly all the way to Germany and Switzerland. Portugal would be perfect. I just didn't know quite what I'd want to do there, so I did what any modern blogger does and asked on my Facebook page (who needs a guidebook when you've got all those travellers to talk to instead). I got some fantastic suggestions (thanks especially to Queer Nomad, Ina and Lis) so now I have figured out that when I get to Portugal, a few places I would love to see are:

Lisbon

An important stop, to see how Portugal ticks. I love small capital cities like this - a population of around half a million, not too big, not too small, just right (sounds like I've been reading too much Goldilocks!). It's full of museums and old buildings, a great place to explore for a few days.


Sintra

Comes highly recommended. And look! Isn't it gorgeous? Home to numerous palaces and castles in just a small spot.


Evora

Evora is a small World Heritage-listed town which even has a Roman temple. And the tip is that they have turned a beautiful old convent into a hotel in Beja, near Evora, well worth a stay.


Porto

I certainly don't mind a drop of port so I will be keen to sample some in Porto. It's Portugal's second largest city so I will have something to do in between trying different kinds of port!


So of course, all of this reading and browsing has got me dreaming up all kinds of Portugal holidays - I think I should learn my lesson and stop asking for tips from readers, since it makes me want to hop on a plane instantly and I can't just yet - but I'm not going to learn, because one day I'll get there and I'll want to know what you all suggest, so any further Portugal tips are extremely welcome in the comments.

Image credits: Lisbon by rtsml, Sintra by Rinzewind, Evora by xiquinhosilva, Porto by rene j.

12 comments:

  1. I keep reading about Portugal on travel blogs as of recent and keep asking myself why I haven't been there. Apparently we both missed out on something great!

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    1. I think you're right Amanda! We will have to make amends for that sometime.

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  2. Portugal is the most under-rated in terms of tourist destinations. It is absolutely beautiful, very very cheap and their famous custard tarts are delicious !!

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    1. Beautiful, cheap and delicious - three very important criteria for me! I remember now learning about these custard tarts - I've tried one somewhere - not sure if it was authentic but it was certainly delicious! Another excellent reason to go.

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  3. Great blog! I'm a little biased, because I am Portuguese, but I definitely recommend going there on holiday. People are very friendly, and the food is great! One thing I can suggest is to travel along the west coast. There are many lovely beaches (less crowded than the ones in Algarve), lighthouses, cliffs and amazing views :)

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    1. Thanks Sandra, and thanks for the tip on the west coast, good to know - it sounds gorgeous.

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  4. Being Portuguese too, I can say that Portugal is certainly underrated in the travel stakes! Also as Sandra said, the food is just delicious and nobody ever hears about our cuisine on TV, service is great and very very cheap, specially if you travel from Australia. I love Sintra too, loads of wonderful castles and Lisbon´s monuments are just exquisite! From the very old suburb of Alfama to the most modern of Parque das Nações where the Expo 98 was held, there is just so much to see...
    http://www.strawberryworld-lisbon.com/lisboa/places/index.html (this is in Portuguese, but you can click on the single items on the left side and see photos of those places in Lisbon, or go to FOTOS and see some more there).

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    1. Yes, I was thinking of you Sami when I wrote this post! My favourite destinations are often the underrated ones so your comments have helped me put Portugal very high on my must-visit list. It would be so easy to combine with our next trip to Germany. Thanks for the extra tips too!

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    2. Hi Amanda, the "strawberryworld" site above, if you put under search on top right corner "English" and then click on search a few centimetres down, the site actually goes to English.
      http://www.strawberryworld-lisbon.com/

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    3. Ooh excellent Sami, thanks I will have a good look at it!

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  5. Go go go! Porto also has an amazingly beautiful bookstore. Oh, and vinho verde, for cheap, everywhere - much better than port wine!

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    1. I think I was already fairly well convinced but now that I hear there is a special bookstore in Porto - I'm 100% sure! Thanks Steffi.

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