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Portugal vs. Spain

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May 29th, 2008, 04:08 PM
  #1
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Portugal vs. Spain

Hello~
We are thinking of Portugal for next vacation - last was 4 yrs (way too long!) ago to Spain. Main question is: Are there more differences than similarities? We went to Madrid, Seville, Rhonda, Granada, Barcelona. Portugal seems very nice from what I've read and still maybe affordable with US exchanged dollars. We like to see a lot and don't care if we're tired at the end of the day! We can probably do 14-15 days next Feb or March 2009(includes travel time from US) Thanks!
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May 29th, 2008, 09:08 PM
  #2
 
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I'm topping this and hoping it will get some replies from people who have been to both. I'm a Spain lover who's considering adding Portugal next trip and am curious to see what people think.
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May 30th, 2008, 01:25 AM
  #3
 
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Portugal uses the Euro like Spain so there is no exchange rate difference.

The are many wonderful sights in Portugal. Lisbon is a must, it has many sights and is full of history.

To the north there is the old City of Oporto famous for port wine. There are many port lodges there that are open to the public and are well worth a visit. Oporto is however a fading gem and much of the city center has been neglected. From Oporto you can go to the Douro Valley, a very scenic place with terraced vineyard lining the valley. It is possible to take a river cruise on the old port boats " Rabelo". Be warned the valley can be very hot in summer - temperatures of 100 plus.

My personal favorite is Alentejo which is south and inland from Lisbon. It is a wonderful but also forgotten part of Portugal. It is well worth a visit 3/4 days is plenty and Evora is a base.

here are some of my photos for Alentejo

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cellart...7604965562858/

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May 30th, 2008, 04:36 AM
  #4
 
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We are Australians who have lived in Spain for a year. We have just returned from a very short trip to Portugal and confess to being disappointed and surprised by how different from Spain and the other parts of Europe we have spent time in.

We only went to Lisbon and Porto (trip was short due to 3rd party travelling with us).

Both were much more rundown and poorer than anywhere in southern Spain. People very different and not as friendly.

Pricewise we found it similar to southern spain.
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May 30th, 2008, 04:59 AM
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While both Spain and Portugal use the euro, I found prices somewhat lower in Portugal. I believe there are more differences than similarities: language, food, and the general feel of the country and culture.

You might be interested in my trip report from last summer's trip to Lisbon, the Alentejo and Madrid:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35062668

Photos:

http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-9tois1
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May 30th, 2008, 05:16 AM
  #6
 
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My experience is similar to Nikki's: Portugal seemed a good deal cheaper to me than Spain.

I have not spent enough time in either country to make a worthwhile judgement on cultural differences.

Ulike eliza3, I thought the Portuguese people to be friendly and disposed to be helpful, but my experiences were limited to major cities (Lisbon, Madrid, and Barcelona) and life in such cities tends to differ from other places.
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May 30th, 2008, 06:05 AM
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It's been a while since we were in Portugal, 5 years or so, but what has been said above is an accurate picture IMO. Portugal is the third world country of Europe. Much poorer than Spain. You can tell without signs that you are leaving one country and entering another just by the caliber of their roads. Many Portugese roads are three lanes with the middle one being used by both sides for passing. Scary. Prices there are less than in Spain. You can see people begging much more frequently. Their unemployment is very high.

That said, the Portugese do church cloisters better than any other country. Beautiful, stunning. See especially the churches at Batalha and Alcobaca. If you possibly can, try to stay one night in Bucaco at the former hunting lodge of the kings of Portugal. My favorite hotel anywhere. Steer clear of Fiqueira de Foz, a very poor resort, literally. Lisbon and Porto are both worth visiting and sort of mirror the Madrid, Barcelona, situation where the second city is the more modern, vibrant, prosperous one. enjoy.
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May 30th, 2008, 06:09 AM
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The Portuguese are a morose but kind people. If you speak Spanish the written word will somewhat similar while spoken word is very different.

Our favorite towns include Evora, Braga, and Sintra.

The food is quite good.
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May 30th, 2008, 08:37 AM
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Portugal is my all time favorite of places to go---been many, many times. We rented an apartment on the Algarve for a month, rented a little car and drove all over the mountains, little villages, wonderful Posoudas, etc., and most everyone speaks English Historically Spain and Portugal have been enemies, so they do stress the fact that they are a different country and not just an 'extension' of Spain.

There is much variety in the terrain, highways are good and sensible, people seem very friendly and moderate, etc.

As a matter of fact, we are going there yet again in Nov and can hardly wait. If I only had time enough to finish up my travel years somewhere, I'd chose Portugal.

We are going to the Douro valley for a few days, then to Viana de Costelo in the far north..just for the scenery, if nothing else. If you can, go.
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May 30th, 2008, 09:17 AM
  #10
 
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Portugal is cheaper, Spain is more interesting. Coastal Portugal is more quaint, Coastal Spain is out of control for the most part. If traveling in Feb/March, then set a rental in/near Lisbon, set some time to get back to Seville and other towns nearby.
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May 30th, 2008, 03:52 PM
  #11
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Thank you all very much for the input. I'm still undecided... My sister just mentioned a trip to Slovenia and Croatia that sounds interesting. I'm just a little worried about it being too cold - am going to try and see if we can wait until April to take our trip. We've been places when it's cold and rainy, and while we still had a great time, it would be nice to not have to pack long-johns! This site is addictive and if I keep reading I don't know how I'll ever make up my mind...
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May 30th, 2008, 04:27 PM
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One of the things I like about reading TA forums is that you can often get a sense for where people hail from. In this instance, I cannot, and a hasty generalization would be that you (cmor) are looking for people who might possibly pick your next vacation venue.

CMOR, I hope this all comes out correctly from me. Spain and Portugal are both marvelous places. I've (wife as well,) been to both Countries a couple of times. I do not agree with posters who try to compare the two places.I'm sorry, I can't do that as I am attached to both through our travels to both.
Aduchamp1, I have no idea what you are inferring when you refer to the Portuguese as "morose" people. They have a pretty good take on life, and are a fun people.
CMOR, you need to do your homework and read about all four places you've indicated in your post as suggested vacation venues.You already know some about Spain. Portugal has wonderful larger cities such as Lisbon and Porto as well as many other marvelous sights. You need to give some indication of what you are looking for on your vacation, and others, I'm sure, will help you out with suggestions And please remember, it ain't about the money.
tptr
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May 30th, 2008, 04:45 PM
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cmor
You need to read this post
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34740328
tptr
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May 30th, 2008, 05:51 PM
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Kind yes. Fun loving? Is not only our opinion but our Brazilian friends also think that the Portuguese are dour. Brazilians are fun loving probabaly to a fault.

This was reinforced during a feast day of St. Gancalo in Amarante, one of the more beautiful towns in Portugal. This day unmarried men and women give each bread in the shape of phalluses. So with music playing and phalluses flying the Portuguese were staring at world as if they were going to the store to buy a regular loaf of bread.

A very strange atmosphere.
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May 30th, 2008, 06:17 PM
  #15
 
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I have been to both Madrid and Lisbon-Sintra in Portugal. very different ; can't really compare the two. Loved both areas-read this from CNN travel today
http://www.cnn.com/2008/TRAVEL/getaw...gal/index.html
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May 30th, 2008, 06:34 PM
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We were just in Lisbon AND Barcelona last month, and while we can't wait to return to Lisbon, I felt one day in Barcelona was sufficient. I know I'll get beat over the head for saying this, but the crowds were nearly unbearable, and the city was, for the most part, just too modern for our tastes. We travel to Europe for the history, and much of Barcelona is newer than our young city of Orlando!

We found the people to be very friendly in Lisbon, the streets uncrowded, no graffiti, extremely clean, charming old neighborhoods to discover, gorgeous scenery - what more could you want?
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May 30th, 2008, 06:43 PM
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hagan--- guess what? I am with you 100%. Barcelona left me cold. I found the people so rude, the crowds unbearable, and overall just on the opposite side of quaint. I guess it is my fault by getting used to the lovely, kind, wonderful people in Southern Spain and Madrid... I can't imagine not going back to Spain, just nowhere near Barcelona....

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May 30th, 2008, 07:36 PM
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And I love Barcelona. The old City is one of the oldest in Europe. I am thoroughly enamored with Guadi and the Catalan spirit.

And we were disappointed in Lisbon, although we liked Portugal and once made a trip just to go to Madiera.

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May 30th, 2008, 08:21 PM
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Aduchamp1,
Isn't it grand that everyone has different tastes?
In all fairness, I feel we might have liked Barcelona more had we visited on a weekday (we were there on a Saturday).

We DID enjoy the old Gotic area, that was our favorite part, and we liked the Gaudi architecture. However, in Lisbon, the streets were uncrowded, we could move at a slower pace, there was very little traffic (there was a traffic light every 50' in Barcelona!) and it just seemed easier and more relaxing.

In all fairness, I'm not a fan of large cities, unless it's Paris (which is my very favorite place in the world!). Go figure.
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May 30th, 2008, 08:59 PM
  #20
 
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"and much of Barcelona is newer than our young city of Orlando!"


I am sure in ONE day in Barcelona (or any city of million plus) one can get a complete picture of the city's history, museums, galleries and architecture.

Well, maybe in Disneyland....
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