Final Questions for Portugal Trip

Mar 17th, 2010, 05:29 AM
  #1  
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Final Questions for Portugal Trip

Thanks to everyone's help and lots of research, I've completed our plans for a two week trip to Portugal in April. Of course, there are always "just a few more questions to ask."

Our itinerary:
Day 1 Fly into Lisbon/rent car/drive to Sintra (Stay in Sintra as a base for 3 nights)
Day 2 Drive/walk around towns and sites near Sintra. Possibly drive to Cabo de Roca.
Day 3 Possibly take train to Lisbon for day. This would be a Sunday.

Day 4 Drive north. Possible brief visits to towns along the way. Stay 2 nights
in Vila Nova Gaia at Clip Hotel.
Day 5 Visit port lodges and walk around Porto

Day 6 Drive to Duoro Valley area. (Stay 3 nights at Mesao Frio, Casa de Canilhas) Want to visit quintas, relax, walk, boat or train trip further east into mountains.
Day 7 As above
Day 8 As above.

Day 9 Drive to Ponte de Lima area. Stay 3 night in Viana do Castelo at Paco D'Anha
Day 10 Visit towns in area as we desire.
Day 11 As above. Especially looking for interesting, small towns, on coast or inland.

Day 12 Drive to town towards Lisbon. Stopping at places as desired. Stay 2 nights in Ourem at Qunta Alcaidaria-Mor
Day 13 Explore area around where we've decided to stay.

Day 14 Drive to Lisbon airport, return car, stay at Residencial Florescente for 10 am flight next day.

Now my remaining questions:

1. Since we'll only have our last half day in Lisbon, would it be worthwhile to come into Lisbon from Sintra on our first Sunday? Are things open and perhaps a more relaxed atmosphere on a Sunday (as in NYC) than during the week.

2. Which maps do you suggest we use for driving throughout the country? Currently have an AAA map, but it's not very detailed. Don't really like GPS, and don't use one here, but would it be practical as we get into more rural areas?

3. Don't think the all day Duoro boat/train trip will fit into our plans. However, since we'll have 3 days in Mesao Frio, would like to do a shorter river cruise east of that area. Suggestions? Also have heard of a narrow track train that goes into the mountains. Comments?

4. Interested in seeing the rock art deep in Duoro Valley (sorry don't have name at this moment) and wondering best way to get there.

Thank you again for all your help and look forward to hearing more. I'll be sure to post a trip report.
Clousie is offline  
Mar 17th, 2010, 12:37 PM
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1. You're only giving yourself 1/2 day in Sintra so I would suggest seeing Sintra on Sunday. FWIW I liked Sintra much more than Lisbon & spent 1.5 days there seeing the sights.

2. I used the Michelin map for Portugal and thought it was great. I was in what I would consider rural areas. It doesn't have all the tiny roads but when I explored off the main roads I found nothing but fields so you probably wouldn't be venturing off the main roads very much. By main roads I mean two-lane roads that lead from town to town and have no traffic.
adrienne is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 12:04 PM
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I'll try to get a Michelin map. I've seen them for other countries and they do look good.
Clousie is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 01:33 PM
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Any other comments from anyone??? The rock art that I mentioned is in the Coa Valley, but can't seem to find a good way to access the area.

Adrienne: Where are you in NJ? I'm in Hunterdon County, and just wondering if we're close by to each other.
Clousie is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 01:40 PM
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Lisbon is a beautiful historical city and deserves more of your time.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 04:40 PM
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Yes, we are near each other; I'm in northern Somerset County. Do you want to borrow my map? I can mail it to you. Send me an email (click on my screen name - my email is in my profile).
adrienne is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2010, 05:23 AM
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Hi, Clousie,
I have visited the Foz Coa rock paintings. I have some information on this post: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-the-douro.cfm

Hope this helps, and I can try to answer any questions as well.

I think the train east from Pinhao is a fabulous way to spend a half day. Details are also in the above post.

I love Lisbon and would spend more time there if I were you, but that´s just me. Most stuff will be open on Sunday (other than commerce, I mean tourist attractions), but may close in the afternoon.

I use the Michelin road atlas of Spain and Portugal (they don´t make one of just Portugal) and it is very good. There are some times, though, when a little more detail would be nice, but I dont think we´ve gotten lost more than once or twice using the map.

Good luck, and boa viagem! (I´m in Portugal right now, by the way!) Laurie
lreynold1 is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2010, 05:44 AM
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Laurie - Michelin DOES have a Portugal only map (including Madiera). I bought it just before my trip last fall. It's map #733. I ordered it through a local book store.
adrienne is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2010, 06:36 AM
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I would have to agree that you should give more time to Lisbon, a beautiful city. We did a day trip to Sintra, and it is quite nice, but fairly small. However, with a car you can do lots of exploring. Just fyi, the stretch between Lisbon and Sintra is not very scenic, lots of 60's style high rises.
zootsi is offline  
Mar 26th, 2010, 06:29 AM
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Hi Laurie,
I re-read the trip report mentioned above about Foz Coa. Did you drive there or take the train to Villa Nova? Is the driving precarious? You also mentioned reservations. Did you have to reserve far ahead of time?

From what I've read, it really sounds as though the trains/boats east of Pinhao are more scenic than those leaving from Porto. Is that correct?

Has anyone done the train to Mirandela? Again,I've read it's a scenic trip.

Oh, just too many places to see and not enough time....

Laurie are you still in Portugal?
Clousie is offline  
Mar 26th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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We drove from Pinhao to Foz Coa along the N222. It is seriously jaw-droppingly beautiful, fairly direct, and a pretty good road. You are driving along some steep mountainsides so the driver does need to pay attention (maybe one person drive over and the other back so that everyone can look?) but it is not particularly scary.

We made reservations for a late September trip--I can't remember how far ahead--but there is a comment in another thread that going to the visitors' center in Foz Coa first thing in the morning was sufficient to see two sites.

We drove over, had our guided tour, had a late lunch in Foz Coa, and drove back to Pinhao by late afternoon. We had another appointment but it would have been nice to take some detours on the way back to some of the castle hill towns, like Penedono.
K2DangerGirl is offline  
Mar 26th, 2010, 08:26 AM
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I loved the narrow-gauge trip up to Mirandela, and the one to Amarante (although the Mirandela trip was the best). TR at http://wilhelmswords.com/rtw2004/index.html
thursdaysd is offline  
Mar 26th, 2010, 12:15 PM
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Hi, Clousie,

I´m just finishing up a 2 1/2 week work trip in Portugal but will be going home tomorrow.

Yes, we drove to Foz Coa. We had spent the night before in Penedono, it was an easy drive, the roads are fine if sometimes kind of desolate. We did what another poster suggested and combined the trip to the paintings with a visit to some of the castle towns. I was living in Lisbon that year and had made reservations via the internet. I can´t access my home computer files till I get back, but I may have some information about times of tours and links to some websites that show you where each visit goes. There are three different departure points for three different sites along the river. We went from Vila Nova de Foz Coa. Here´s a short explanation in English, http://viajar.clix.pt/tesouros.php?id=542&lg=en Are you planning to do this as a day trip from the Douro?

And re your question about the trains, I do not think the trip from Porto to Regua would be the most scenic. When I stayed at Casa Canilhas, another couple took a day boat trip to Porto and back and they said it wasn´t so special.

I´ve never been to Mirandela, what´s there? I´m always happy to find new places to visit in Portugal!

I´ll let you know if I can find the site with the times of visits, etc. Laurie
lreynold1 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2010, 12:48 PM
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p.s., I found the site, it has visiting times, but it´s just in Portuguese,

http://www.ipa.min-cultura.pt/pt/monuments/53/

But here´s some of the main information from the website. Sites are closed on Mondays; tickets are 7 €.

One site is Canada do Inferno (Vila Nova da Foz Coa). Visits are in the morning. That´s the one we went to.

Another is Penascosa, and you leave from the office in Castelo Melhor (about 1/2 hour from Vila Nova). Visits are in the afternoon, around 1 or 1:30. the website says.

There are two possible visits from Muxagata, they are much longer, taking at least 3 hours (the other two are around 2 hours, including driving in their vehicle, walking, and then seeing the drawings).

The email is [email protected]
I assume someone will speak English and can tell you specific times for the day you want to visit. If not, let me know anad I can email them in Portuguese (or at least in what I think is Portuguese). Laurie
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