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considering trip to portugal with family, 10 days, march 2002

considering trip to portugal with family, 10 days, march 2002

Apr 19th, 2001, 10:12 AM
  #1  
Marj
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considering trip to portugal with family, 10 days, march 2002

Just looking for some suggestions, itinerary recommendations, etc. for a trip to portugal. neither myself nor my husband have been there. We have been to major cities of italy, paris and amsterdam with our kids. they are pretty good travelers (will be 10 & 13). don't mind doing a lot of walking. and will put up with art museums. we all like sight-seeing, wandering around and exploring and also some kid-friendly museums, sites, etc. my kids adored italy and liked changing cities every few days. We would consider either renting a car and/or taking a train. any advise would be appreciated. thanks in advance.
 
Apr 21st, 2001, 03:24 AM
  #2  
anna
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Marj,

We went to Portual a few years ago around the same time of year (mid-late March). Weather was terrific, warm and sunny but not hot. You won't need to worry about hotels or a car rental with air conditioning at that time of year so helps to keep costs down. Portuguese language is difficult to understand when spoken, but written Portuguese is very similar to Spanish. If you know some basic Spanish (maybe even Italian)
you'll be fine reading signs etc. Many people spoke some English, but in some of the smaller towns you'll probably find folks who don't know any English. Still, the people we ran into were very willing to try to understand our attempts at Portuguese and/or pantomine pointing etc. Of course, try to learn at least some basic phrases, menu items, etc before you go.

We drove into Portugal's Algarve (Southern coast)from Seville and then up to Lisbon. Lisbon is wonderful, reminded us a little of San Francisco - hilly, on the water with beautiful bridges. Enjoyed the food (simple but delicous preparation, lots of seafood) and people were pleasant. Driving in Lisbon was, like many European cities, stressful - but if you can handle big-city driving in the U.S., you'll be fine. Otherwise, it's fairly compact and you can get around by public transportation (do be careful of pickpockets on the buses - we saw a few on the bus to Alfama area and gave them a wide berth). We ran out of time and couldn't get to Sintra, but I've heard from others who've gone that it's fantastic and a very short side trip from Lisbon.

Mid-March in Algarve (more of a resort area)is off-season so we had our pick of places to stay and it wasn't overrun with European tourists who come when it gets a bit warmer. We stopped in Tavira, Lagos, Salema, and Sagres on the Algarve.

I'd suggest having a car in the Algarve; very easy driving and much more flexible and convenient. Driving time between Lisbon and the Algarve was about 5 hours - highway driving but at times down to 2 lanes. We felt we didn't give enough time to Portugal on our trip. We definitely intend to go back...prices are very reasonable and Portugal seemed just a little more exotic than some of the other European countries. Hope this helps get you started.
 
Apr 21st, 2001, 05:14 AM
  #3  
Brad
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Marj,

You'll love Portugal!! People are very friendly and helpful, food is great, etc. Last time I was in Portugal was 1997. Had been there in the early 80's.

Sintra is gorgeous especially if you stay up near the Pena Palace. Estoril and Caiscais are lovely. Definately take the children to Obidos (you can even stay at a castle there). They'll love walking around the walls of the city. There are lots of other castles that the children might like to explore spread out throughout the country. I really didn't care for the North much but that's a personal preference. I went in September and the air pollution was horrendous in the North. We stayed in Sintra in 1997 and went on day trips to Obidos, Lisbon, Fatima (snore), and other sites I can't remember. Evora, in the east, is gorgeous or it was in the 80's at least. Don't think it's a day trip though.

I'd definately rent a car, especially with children. Seems like it would be a little less stressful. Driving is no problem in Portugal now (it was really scary in the past). They now have a highway system from Lisbon to Porto. The authorities have really cracked down on bad driving and the results have been dramatic. I'd recommend not driving during rush hours though (you'll appreciate less traffic and commuters will appreciate you not being in their way).

Just found this site http://www.geocities.com/Paris/4118/index01.htm. Check it out. Has lots of info.

Have a great time. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me.

 
Apr 21st, 2001, 05:49 AM
  #4  
hope
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I have been to Lagos (in March) in the Algarve and can highly recommend it. Beautiful place and friendly people. Can't wait to go back someday soon. There are small alcoves (sp?) all along the beach, so it's as if you are on your own little island.
Lisbon was great, too, but I didn't have nearly enough time to explore it.
 
Apr 21st, 2001, 08:03 AM
  #5  
Gloria
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We loved Portugal, Marj. We stayed for three weeks and enjoyed every minute!
I saw someone on an earlier post recommend three days for Lisbon, Cascais and Sintra. You can easily spend a week in Lisbon. It is a beautiful, picturesque city. With your kids, I would spend 3-4 days in Lisbon, pick up a car and use Azenhaus da Mar as a base. It is just a few minutes into Sintra and Colares, two lovely small villages. You can venture up the coast to Coimbra and other charming cities. You can travel south along the coast and see that gorgeous scenery.
We went in March as well. It is a great time to visit Portugal. We had 60 to 70 degree days. The traffic is fairly light during the week.
Portugal is surprisingly tropical. Once you see Sintra you will understand why Frank Sinatra had a home there.
Sounds like a great trip! Enjoy!
Gloria
 
Apr 21st, 2001, 10:03 AM
  #6  
Marj
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Thanks much, now you have me started! I don't usually plan these trips until the fall before but you have given me some great starting points. if anyone has any good websites they can recommend for hotels, sightseeing, portugal in general, please let me know. I really enjoy the trip research almost as much as the trip.
 
Apr 21st, 2001, 03:20 PM
  #7  
Brenda
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Marj,

My friend and I just returned from Paris & Portugal last week. We spent 5 days in Portugal. We took a taxi from the Lisbon airport to the train station (about 15 min?), then took the train to Estoril. Cascais is within walking distance of Estoril. A beach sidewalk connects the 2. A car isn't needed to enjoy both.

We took a local bus via the sea coast (l:45) to Sintra from Cascais and then returned to Estoril via the inland road (40 min). The road is very, very narrow with many tour buses. If you choose to drive that road, be prepared to find places to pull over or even back up so a bus can pass. We saw it more than once. I was glad we took the bus.

If you are in Estoril be sure to see the lazer light show projected on the waters of the fountain in the outdoor garden at the Estoril casino which is on the main drag. It plays at 8pm & then on the half hour (I think). Excellent show, despite the advertisement for the casino.

The Chinese restaurant at the casino was excellent, but a bit expensive.

We rented a car in Estoril which was delivered to our door from the Cascais rental company. We drove south to the Algarve by the coast road. Don't believe anyone in Portugal who shrugs and estimates the drive at 3 hours. It took us over 5 to go there. But only 3 to drive from Albufiera to Lisbon.

I wish I had gone to Portugal 15 years ago. I think the 1998 exposition must have really changed the country. I'm not one in favor of progress. It seemed to me that most of the seaside villages in the Algarve were totally overrun with time-share or individual second homes. Too many Pizza Huts, McDonalds, Starbucks to suit my taste.

The country side was in April blooms, so it was lovely. But the outside money seems to have stolen the precious uniqueness of what must once have been Portugal.

The museums were on strike on the day we planned to visit. Be sure to check with a tourist board office or specific site before making a long trip to a museum that might be closed.

Driving was very easy, but the car was a stick shift. Gasoline was expensive. Be sure to ask which kind of gas to put in the car to avoid disel which is called gasolino there.

Driving in Lisbon was not difficult, just confusing when trying to get from point A to point B with their maps. Rush hour traffic was at a standstill for as far as the eye could see.

I was disappointed that Portugal did not provide me with the exotic feeling that I have experienced all over South America. I feel the same disappointment in my own home town where time shares & tourist attractions have robbed our area of it's natural beauty in order that outsiders can come in to develop things we don't need, wipe out all the natural land, and then take their money to banks in other places.

As you can see, my opinion might be a bit jaded when I see too much development at the price of the natural state of the differences in the world.

I hope you find Portugal to be everything you have imagined. The people there were fabulously friendly.

 
Apr 22nd, 2001, 07:24 AM
  #8  
Rick
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We are travelling to Portugal in Sept.(our 3rd-1980,1993)The people,food,and countryside just keep calling us back.I suggest you use a taxi in Lisbon to get around and get a rental when your ready to leave and explore the rest of the country. My research on Portugal is quite extensive(gotta love the internet)A good starting point is www.portugal-info.net/
Also check out www.carvoeiro.com We are renting a villa this time around and I can let you know how it works out when we get back,if you like.If you want more info just send us an email. ENJOY!!
 

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