The Promise of Portugal

Today, I’m taking on Portugal.  I had hoped that I would have at least 2 weeks there, but after reworking my travel route and timeline to take into consideration when my parents will be in Spain and when the Moroccan tour I want to take runs, it looks like I’ll have no more than 10 days, maybe less.

To make the most out of my short time in this beautiful country, I’ll use 3 cities as bases from which I can take day trips to the surrounding areas.  Lagos, Porto and Lisbon.  Right now, the plan is to stay 2 nights in Lagos and 4 each in Porto and Lisbon.  From what I’ve read, these cities are fascinating in their own right and deserve time to be explored.

Lagos — known for its gorgeous beaches and awesome nightlife, it’s also a great jumping off point if you want to see Sagres, the most southwestern point of Europe with dazzling blue water and jaw-dropping cliffs.

Porto —  Porto is a beautiful mess filled with different styles of architecture, attitudes, and eras. It is the birthplace of port wine so, of course, a wine tour is in order.  A day trip to Braga is on the short list.  In Braga, I am sure to get my Baroque fix in the form of the many churches sporting the style. I also want to visit Guimaraes from here. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as well as being named the European Capital of Culture in 2012.

Lisbon —  I’ll be taking a walk through history as I stroll down Lisbon’s centuries-old streets.  Despite the city’s patina, it’s soul is youthful…I’m sure to find kindred spirits eager to enjoy a glass of wine as we listen to jazz in the Bairro Alta district or to dance the night away in one of the city’s many nightclubs.  For a quieter pace, I’ll definitely be taking a day trip to the nearby fairytale-like town of Sintra.

According to lonely planet, a serious shoestringer can get by on 30 euro/day in Portugal, which is good since the rest of Western Europe seems to be intent on emptying my bank account.  I doubt I’ll be able to keep it to 30 euro/day, given all the day trips I want to take, but even if I could keep it to 38 euro/day ($50), I’d consider that a win.

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