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Trip Report Loved Portugal - brief trip report

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Just returned from a wonderful first trip to Portugal, and now can't wait to go back and explore more of the country!. We only had 8 days, but feel like we saw a lot, at a good pace, and a great mix of cities and countryside. Stayed first 4 nights in Lisbon in an apartment in Baixa. Loved the great, central location, from where we could walk everywhere. Spent 4 days in Lisbon, including a day trip to Sintra, which was wonderful, and easy to do by train. Could have used one more day in Lisbon. We didn't visit many museums as the weather was so fabulous the entire time we preferred to wander around the city, enjoy the cafes and wonderful viewpoints. We did spend most of one day in Belem (loved the pastel de natas at the famous cafe there, best in town!), would have visited the Gulbenkian museum if we had another day. We then picked up our rental car from the Lisbon airport, and drove to Evora, where we had a great lunch and explored the town, then overnighted at the pousada in Arraiolos. Visited the small Alentejo towns of Arraiolos, Estremoz, Vila Vicosa the next day en route to Marvao, which was magical, and where we spent the night. Would never have though to go to Marvao without reading the Fodor's board, and this was a highlight of the trip. The next day drove from Marvao to Nazare, visiting Tomar and Fatima on the way. Fatima was particularly interesting when we visited (though neither of us are Catholic) as it was the day before one of the major pilgrimages of the year, so was full of pilgrims and activity. Stayed 2 nights at Quinta das Rosas, a lovely bed and breakfast in the hills above Nazare with a wonderful view of the beach and a wonderful inn keeper. Visited Nazare/Sitio, Alcobaca and Obidos the next day, and drove back to Lisbon the next morning for our flight home.
Would have loved to travel further north, particularly Porto and the Douro valley, as well as the Minho - but those will have to wait for the next trip! We found Portugal to be a lovely, laid back, friendly, relaxing and uncomplicated place to visit.

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