Just returned from two weeks overseas!
The trip was celebrating our 29th anniversary and was 14 nights. I have come to realize that 11 nights was perfect. Heading on to Switzerland for a concert made the trip a little long, but I do like Switzerland
First stop: Flew American from Richmond to Philly and then straight on to Lisbon. Flight to Lisbon was shorter than I thought, (about 6 and a half hours). American gives free wine in coach and so that was nice. We had exit row seats which was good, but damn coach is tough as I get older. My husband slept the whole way and slept again when we got there. I wish I could sleep like that!
I woke up the morning of the trip with a head cold. This is my third trip in a row that I have been on this year and started out sick. Not fun. This last year has been so busy crazy and I let everything get to me when I am prepping for a trip I guess. Anyway, luckily the cold only lasted a few days!
Loved Lisbon! It is a beautiful city! Loved all the tiles on the buildings! We found it very clean, friendly and safe. Bread is fantastic in Portugal. We grew up in NJ, but moved south to Virginia. We always miss the bread, but ate our fill in Europe. Something about the bread and pastries over there!
We stayed at the Hotel Britania which is a lovely smaller hotel located just off the main avenue. We arrived at 10:30 tired and the room was not ready, but they told us to go have breakfast at the hotel which was very nice. We rested there for about an hour and the room was ready. We took a nap for a couple of hours which really helped me.
We were located on the top floor, the fifth floor in a very nice king bedded room. The hotel has a/c which always seemed to be the perfect temperature, which for me is nice. I am the menopausal woman so always hot and the room was nice and cool without being cold.The hotel staff was very nice and helpful with directions and where to go. We were also able to get a nice 55 and over rate that included breakfast. Yay! Thanks to my husband for being 56! Hotel cost about 225 per night and included breakfast.
First day, we walked around the city and had dinner on a street filled with restaurants. They have salesmen or table fillers out on the streets with menus. I was pleasantly surprised that my meal was delicious! My husband had a lobster stew and I had the grouper. Not a big fish person, the fish was excellent. Will try to find the name of the place.
Second day in Lisbon: I arranged a segway tour. We have never done these and so I wasn't sure if we would like it. Well, we loved it. With all the hills in Lisbon, the segway took us everwhere easily. We went through Lisbon Segway tours and our guide was Miguel. He was great and very funny and friendly. The tour was three hours around the city.
Dinner was at a restaurant called Sommlier. This restaurant had a unique feature where you could use your table card, like a hotel card, and try different wines. We tasted a few. I really liked the green whites in Portugal. I am a pinot grigio fan and the Portugese vino verdes were clean and crisp and light. I very much enjoyed the wines and they were not expensive at all.
We rented a car on Day 3 to drive to Estoril and Fatima. The car was like a toy car, very small and we filled that sucker with too many suitcases! My husband really liked driving a stick and actually had fun driving the little car.
Day 3 we traveled to Estoril near Cascais. We stayed at the Intercontinental hotel which is located in Estoril. The hotel was fantastic! It is a very techy hotel where everything is accessed by your room key. When we checked in, my cold was at it's worst and I was full of sudafed and afrin. One thing about tissues in Europe, why are they so hard??? Anyway, the hotel concierge let us know that there was to be a party at the hotel that night and that we were invited. We needed to wear pink and white if we had it and if we didn't that was okay too. Well luck would have that I had pink and white.
The party was so much fun, too much fun actually. Hendricks gin was the sponsor. We did have to pay for drinks but the drinks were hefty. I wound up drinking way too much and getting sick. Such an idiot. Anyway, we met some wonderful Portugese people who actually invited us to dinner the next night. Unfortunately, I was hungover terribly and so could not go! On the plus side, the alcohol must have killed off my cold.
The day after the big party, my husband wanted to see Sintra, so off we went. Sintra is a very unique area filled with beautiful castles. I was not up to par so had a hard time really enjoying the area. We headed back after a while and went to bed early!
We left Estoril and headed next to Fatima. Fatima is celebrating 100 years since Mary appeared to the children. We are Catholic and this is something we wanted to see. We stayed in a very lovely place called Luz Houses. I highly recommend this place. It is all about feeling peaceful and feeling serenity. It is not connected with Fatima but is about a half mile down the road with its own compound. Our stay was wonderful here. Fatima itself has it's own uniqueness. I was a little turned off by the commercialism of it all. On the plus side, we did the stations of the cross and stumbled upon a Father Murphy from Ireland via NJ and he was giving a talk at each station with a group from America. He was very informative and really told the story of the stations and of Fatima. I am so glad that we came upon him because otherwise, we would have just walked around.
That night there was a candlelight vigil and mass that started at 9:30pm and ended around 12:30 in the morning. It was a long and cold three hours but the choir was wonderful and I loved how they said the welcome, the gospel in about 10 languages. It was very beautiful. I woke up the next morning hearing the haunting men's choir at 6am. This did not wake my husband, but just me. It was very beautiful to listen to them singing.
We definitely want to return to Portugal. The people, the food and the country was just so beautiful! Porto is on the list for a future trip!
Next stop Barcelona Spain!
I had much trepidation going to Barcelona. I heard all about people getting robbed including friends of ours. Just to let you all know, we were never robbed! As a matter of fact, I didn't really have to hold onto the purse too tightly. I used a bra safe which is my favorite thing and carried just a few Euros in my purse.
Day one in Barcelona: We checked into the Cotton House Hotel which is a Marriott brand hotel. We used points and had a very nice room with a balcony on the top/6th floor. Since my husband is a gold member, we were given free breakfast which was delicious! For anyone who needs gluten free, this hotel had gluten free bread and cake at breakfast.
We checked in at night and ate the hotel's restaurant Batur. It was delicious!! We had a chicken cannelloni, but my favorite thing was a croquette made with duck. It was Thanksgiving in your mouth. No other way to explain how delicious this was! It was like turkey gravy and mashed potatoes in your mouth and then gone in a bite or two. We ordered more!
Day 2 Barcelona: will add later!
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Trip report: Portugal, Barcelona and Switzerland
Just returned from two weeks overseas!