Medieval Evora

One of the many things I have come to rely on from using the Lonely Planet Guide to plan my travels is their “Suggested Itineraries” section.  Located in the front section of their guides, these recommended itineraries not only help me plan which direction I want to venture, but also help me make sure I don’t bypass any of the “not to be missed” stops along the way.

I have been loosely following the Lonely Planet’s recommended “Highlights of Portugal” itinerary, which heads south from Lisbon, east along the southern Algarve coast, then Continue reading

Tavira and Her Islands

A heartfelt thanks to everyone for their lovely comments! It was like turning on the light in what I thought was an empty room, only to find it full of friends! 😉 I love that many of you said you were enjoying the tour through Portugal, as like-minded travel companions, arm-chair or otherwise, are a treasure. Only a couple of “unsubscribers” hopped off the train at the last stop, so off we go back to Portugal…

When doing research on “don’t miss” places along the Portuguese coast, Tavira, along with the expanse of barrier islands off her coast, comes up consistently as a recommended stop. Reputed to be one of the most charming towns of the Algarve Continue reading

Back in the USSA

It’s been a month since my last post, and I’m starting to get those “Are you still alive??” emails from my dear friends and followers — at least what friends and followers I have left after diverting the blog to Portugal for two months. 😉 Thanks to those who have written to inquire.

I still have about 10 glorious places visited in Portugal that I had planned for the blog – lighthouses toured, fortresses explored, beaches adored, wine poured, seafood devoured, etc. etc. And I still plan to post them. I must after all, substantiate my claim that I write the blog to preserve the memories and not for the comments, right? Continue reading

Seven Hanging Valleys Hiking Trail

While motoring along the coast on my Benagil boat tour, the guide pointed to a series of boardwalks along the coast remarking, “That’s all part of the Seven Hanging Valleys Hiking Trail,” at which time my ears immediately perked up. I’d not heard of this trail before. Once back to the laptop, I did some research to learn it’s rated as one of the most beautiful hikes in Europe! Continue reading

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