Surfers and Sinners of the Algarve

I did a few day trips around the south coast while staying in Lagos. It’s a good base with an active bus network from which local bus lines spider out in all directions. I have yet to encounter a bus station attendant that doesn’t speak English in all of Portugal, making it easy and affordable to explore the southern coast, as well as the rest of the country.

One caveat to convenient bus travel in Portugal is weekends. Bus schedules are just about cut in half on Saturday and Sundays, even to tourist destinations. Since I am Continue reading

Lagos: Two if by Sea

As I mentioned in my previous post, my guesthouse while staying in Lagos is located only two blocks from the Lagos Marina, where dozens of boats come and go daily. There are a plethora of boat tour operators working from kiosks along the dock offering kayaking tours, speedboat tours, and sightseeing trips to the grottoes.

One trip that has piqued my interest is a little further away, to a cave known as Algarve de Benagil. It’s not only a massive cave with two entrances to access a small a beach, Continue reading

Lagos: One if by Land

When deciding on an itinerary for Portugal after leaving Lisbon, I wasn’t sure whether to head north first toward Porto or south to the Algarve region along the southern coast. All research said the beaches became a mob scene during July and August, the time period when Europeans typically take their vacations. Sun-worshipers arrive in droves during the doldrums when the spring winds die down, and the scorching sun makes swimming in the numbing Atlantic Ocean bearable. But not only do the temperatures soar, so do the prices. I’ve got a good six weeks before the high season rolls around, so I figure I’ll head south first and get a jump on the crowds, then work my way back up north after I’ve had my beach fix. Continue reading

Sintra on a Sunday

Friends and family have asked about Portugal, “Is it crowded?” My answer has always been, “There are people everywhere, but it’s not crowded” Until, that is, I got to Sintra.

I knew I was pushing my luck by going on a weekend, but due to travel schedules, museum closures, and nonrefundable hotels I had now booked onward, there was no other option. It was go on a Sunday or not go at all. Another of Portugal’s many Continue reading

Day Trip to Belém

Just about 4 miles outside of the Lisbon city center along the Tagus River is the parish of Belém. While still considered part of Lisbon, it requires a change from the metro to a regional train to get there. And it has a very different feel to it, much more focused on the waterfront. It’s also got to be one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area, and for good reason. There is so much to see within two or three city blocks that I spent an entire day here. Continue reading

A Medley of Museums

I have been known to label myself as “not a museum person,” yet I rarely miss a famous one, and always enjoy them once I get there. I’ve gone out of my way to visit them, been to all the big names, and have enjoyed countless hours wandering the halls with my favorite niece Hannah. So instead, I should probably say I have a low museum tolerance. It’s a battle between my eyes and my feet to see which one will cry “uncle” first. Continue reading

Monuments and Miradors

I’ve mentioned before that Lisbon is a city of hills. Seven of them, in fact. And that’s just the big ones. Walking through some of the neighborhoods can feel like walking on a roller coaster track, climbing up to the crest, then back down again in the trough, trudging up and down the undulating sidewalks. Continue reading

Lisbon’s Tram No. 28

One of the call-out boxes in my Lonely Planet Portugal Travel Guide proclaims Lisbon’s Tram No. 28 as an attraction not to be missed. Described as “a quaint yellow tram that screeches and rattles through the narrow streets of the city” it’s as iconic as the monuments it rattles past.

It’s not just a major tourist attraction, however. It remains a vital part of Lisbon’s public transport network, as it’s 1930’s design is the only public transportation vehicle capable Continue reading

Lots to Love in Lisbon!

So why Portugal, one might ask? Well, it’s a country I haven’t yet pinned on my wall map. That’s reason enough. But while Portugal’s extensive coastline as a place I have long wanted to explore, it wasn’t in my “Top Five.” But more and more, I have been seeing Portugal show up in the “listicles” as of late. Just Google “Why visit Portugal?” Continue reading

The Seven P’s

My time spent back in Texas was dominated by trying to replace my electronic arsenal, piece by piece. This was even more frustrating considering that when it comes to electronics, the old adage “They just don’t make ‘em like they used to” seems to ring true in every case. The new laptop has a less optimal screen and cheaper plastic. The new iphones are gigantic, weighting down my pants pocket. And the ipod, once a phenomenal music storage workhorse designed to fit in the tiniest of places now exists Continue reading