Portugal has been on my short list of travel for several years now. I kept reading about and hearing from others about how many people love it and plan to retire here in the future. Not just those from the U.S. either. It is popular with many expats from other parts of Europe as well. Why? The weather, the ocean, the culture, the people and the food. Obviously we had to check it out. We flew from Rome and landed in Lisbon. There we rented a car and headed south to the region known as the Algarve. Thankfully, after the heat in Rome, the weather was clear and cool.
Because we aren’t really beach people and figured it would be good to stay away from the summer vacation crowds, I found a “quinta” (better known as a farm house rental) in the hills above the coast. Even though we could see the coast in the distance, it was green and cool and our rental turned out to be a lovely converted property with even lovelier hosts–Laura and Jorge.
We did drive to the coast a couple of times. Once to check out the cliffs that the area is very well known for having. Another was to visit a well preserved castle in a nearby town and several of the coastal cities where were yes, (!) crowds of tourists.
We enjoyed our stay in this area for four nights before driving north to Sintra. Just about everyone who visits Portugal says that Sintra is one place you simply have to visit. And after our time there I would agree with them. We rented another vacation home near the center of the city, parked our car and walked from there. Luckily the weather stayed cool and comfortable for us because as it turned out, we did A LOT of walking.
Sintra is home to a number of gorgeous palaces, a castle and several parks. It also has a lot of hills and windy and twisty roads. There is no way a few photos can do the place justice, but I am including those from three major sites in the city. We stayed here for six nights and could easily have stayed longer because there is so much to see.
Of course it might seem that we are constantly on the go from all the photos Thom and I are posting on Facebook. However, we are actually relaxing and taking our time compared to so many of the other tourists we are talking too who just try to visit the city in a day or two. Here’s proof of some of our relaxation time.
So far we are feeling very comfortable in Portugal. The language is a bit tricky…sort of a combination of Spanish and Italian from the sound of it. And even harder to pronounce. But the roads and driving are easier than Italy and, the food is tasty, and the weather at our first two locations was wonderful.
From Sintra we head north to Tomar!