Trip Report: Portugal, May-June 2019

Nov 12th, 2019, 03:53 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Trip Report: Portugal, May-June 2019

Our intention this time was to see southern Portugal with return visits to Lisbon and Porto. We were traveling with a friend, so some accommodation had to be made for what she wanted to see, although to a great degree it was planned as a tag-along arrangement which was modified three days into our travels.

The good: aside from one major incident, everything worked out fine. We stayed mainly in apartments, some booked through AirBnB and some through For the time we were together, we stayed in 5 hotels: Evora, Serpa, Setúbal and Aveiro. Cost was an issue, which meant that the apartments in Lisbon and Porto had the secondary room with no outside windows. That was unintended, as it is not always clear when looking at the description of an apartment that this was the situation for the second full bedroom. At any rate, we avoided situations where the room was divided into two by just a curtain. But all the apartments were spic and span.

The bad: On our third day in Lisbon both my wife and I were pickpocketed while visiting sights in Belem. The only thing they did not get were our passports and my IDP. That meant that we had no way to pay the second half of our up-coming AirBnB rentals, no way to get cash, and potentially no way even to get back to the apartment in Lisbon had our friend not been with us (not quite, as my day transportation ticket was not in my wallet).

The Good: I went to the car rental agency the next day, and they assured me that they would accept the IDP and my passport for the car rental. They even accepted the CDW decline even though the credit card had to be our friend’s, not mine. But as the registration process was being entered into the computer, the agent asked me if the telephone number he read off the computer was mine. So Europcar has me in their system, but I forgot to ask them if they have a copy of my driver’s license.

The luck: The day before I had purchased for 5€ two 5€ SIM cards for a flip phone that I had with me. It was intended to be used to get in touch with apartment owners shortly before we would arrive at each apartment since we were traveling by car and could not specify our exact arrival time. Those two card sufficed to make calls to the States to contact a friend in SF and subsequently cancel our credit and debit cards. Our friend does library research, so she was able to retrieve the numbers to contact and send them by text to our traveling companion’s I-phone. Spent long minutes on the phone, often speaking gibberish just to keep the connection alive while trying to reach the credit card providers. All was paid for by the first 5€ card. Our SF friend also went into our closet where I told her she could find another credit card which she FedEx’d to us. We were pickpocketed on a Monday and by Friday, when we were staying in a hotel (what address would we use for a AirBnB stay?), we had a working credit card. She also saved all the information on the card so that, upon reflection, I could tell her to get on my computer with my password and act in my stead to change the credit card information on my AirBnB account.

Luckily we were traveling with a friend, who fronted us for all the cash expenses (shared meals gas, and pocket money for incidentals) and the credit card expenses (highway tolls and one hotel bill) for the rest of the trip.

We went to Portugal with a stop in NYC to see our daughter and family. She arranged for an excursion to visit DIA-Beacon ( which is a museum in an old Nabisco packing plant—a good repurposing of a site; I was less impressed by the art, but the lunch sandwiches are good if not cheap The train ride is pleasant, going up along the Hudson. It is a nice break from the city if anyone needs that. We also visited the Neue Galerie, which we do almost every time we go to NYC. The Highline turned out to be disappointing: the promenade plantée in Paris and the new Salesforce park in San Francisco are much more successful because there’s room around them. The Highline is also a victim of its own success. It is no more than an elevated train double track over a street with so many visitors that it is hardly better than walking on a crowded downtown street. It was constructed when the buildings around it were low. Anyone familiar with the elevated lines in NYC can see, particularly on the One Broadway and the Four Pelham Parkway lines in the Bronx that the elevated lines overshadow nearby buildings that often are barely as high as the line itself; usually storefronts with a story above them, or the elevated is lined with inter-war 6 story apartment buildings that are no more than a sidewalks width away from the trains. What happened to the Highline is that these low buildings have for the most part disappeared, particularly in its uptown half, to be replaced by modern often signature architecture where one can practically spit on the adjoining balconies. The Salesforce garden in SF is wider and has an alley on either side to give some distance to the nearby high-rises, while the promenade plantée has the avenue Daumesnil on one side which gives it breathing room. We also visited the Brooklyn Botanical Garden where the tree peonies were in full bloom

We met our friend in JFK and flew TAP to Lisbon. We were met by a driver (30€) who also showed us the ropes in the apartment. It was an AirBnB apartment clearly used only as a tourist apartment. There was not a single condiment in the kitchen (no salt, no spices, no oil). The apartment was spotless but the second room had no exterior windows and we had no AC—fans were provided. Storage space was limited, we lived out of our suitcases. It has a washing machine but no dryer and insufficient clothespins for a full wash to be hung on the line off the balcony. We purchased the necessary items for light meals plus clothespins which we took along for the rest of the trip in Portugal, although this turned out to be the barest apartment. The apartment was located close to the Marquês de Pombal metro station and close to the Europcar agency that would provide us with our rental. It is two stops from the Rossio. The rent was $747.50 for six nights.

The most convenient transportation ticket for us was the 24 hour ticket for at a cost of 6.40€ compared to 1.50€ for a single ticket—a 2 minute elevator ride (after a 30 minute wait) is the equivalent of a single ticket. The 24 hour ticket can be renewed at any kiosk in any metro station. We purchased a separate ticket for the train ride to Sintra.

We had previously visited the national azulejos museum and the Gulbenkian, so my wife decided that we need not go back to see them. But I think that they are two of the most important museum in Lisbon. Our friend did not see them, through no fault of ours, but it turned out that Sintra and Coimbra were the only places where she went off on her own. We did see the archeological museum that is in the ruins of a church victim of the 1756 earthquake; and what was billed as a decorative arts museum but is more a period collection gathered in a mansion—Fundação Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva. It is at the base of the fortress, where the 38 street car reaches its highest point. It’s very nice, with some beautiful items, but it is not in my mind a decorative arts museum because it limits itself to decorative arts that precede the 19th century. There is a national archeological museum in Belem, so this one is limited to items found in the ruins of buildings after the 1755 earthquake. Similarly, the modern art museum in Lisbon is minor and can be skipped, for modern/contemporary art I would go to the cultural center of Belem.

Miguel, who picked us up at the airport, suggested a fado venue and made reservations for us. Our reservation for the day we were pick-pocketed, and the women wanted to cancel. I didn’t, as I saw no point in moping in the apartment speculating on the sequence that led to our loss. They both agreed that we did the right thing to go to the performance. It was in a small establishment where for 20€ (if memory serves me right) per person, one gets a bistro meal , three courses (salad, main course, dessert), served between three sets. Our table was next to the singers. In this instance, the two singers, accompanied by a standard acoustic guitar and a Portuguese guitar, were male. One singer was clearly superior to the other, and he had a voice that would fill an opera hall. If that one performance was any indication, I prefer fado to flamenco when it comes to the singing.

We had visited the national palace in Sintra previously, so we skipped it this time. My wife and I went to visit the Quinta da Regaleira gardens, and easy stroll from the center of town, while our friend when to the top of the mountain to visit the Moorish ruins and the other palace. I found the gardens to be a little less than its descriptions. It is a turn of the century (19th-20th) folly, admirable in that it was developed on a steep hillside, but not overwhelming for anyone who lives in a Mediterranean climate which allows for a wide range of cultivated plantings. The Val Rameh garden in Menton and the garden of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat were more varied and more interesting. The underground tunnels and the “inverted” tower were mildly interesting, but if one is familiar with the double helix well in Orvieto, this one is a meh. What the garden and the mansion offer is a relaxing escape from the more driven tourism of Lisbon.

Eating: I can’t recall all the meals during our entire trip, and I do not take notes. Aside from the simple bistro meal of the fado venue we also ate at the Chidao Palace where we had an excellent meal with excellent service. We started with oysters and possibly some other appetizers before moving on to the main course which was a perfectly cooked Tomahawk steak for three. This was at the beginning of the trip, the restaurant had been highly recommended to us and we were still feeling our way around traveling with someone’s whose foreign travel habits were unknown. It was one of the best steaks we’ve had, although we usually do not order steak in a restaurant. We were told that reservations were essential, and we made them, but none of the various restaurant rooms, each on a different these and we sat under the lion, were completely full. Our third memorable meal was a tiny place called the Casa Java on Rua da Sociedade Farmacêutica 58. It specializes in seafood, is inexpensive and is a call to an era gone by. We also managed to picnic in the Estrella park.

The next day we picked up our car. I had ordered a Renault Mégane or equivalent suspecting that a smaller car, such as a Clio, could not hold more than three 22” suitcases in the trunk and our friend was using a 25” suitcase (not sure on the size, but bigger than 22”). We were given a Renault Captur which barely held our luggage
I did not argue, thankful that they even let me have the car under the original contract even though I had no driver’s license and the CDW was not carried by the original credit card. In other respects the Captur was fine, not very exciting, but fairly efficient on fuel consumption and with a very smooth shift. I had not driven a shift car in a year, and our traveling companion, sitting in the back, asked if the car was automatic. She could see me shift but did not feel the gear changes, and that was while driving in city traffic.

Here are the pictures of Lisbon:

Driving out of Lisbon was not very difficult, but we did miss the first turn off. Within cities, the road signs are not always very prominent. We knew that we exited north, and intended to take the belt roadway to eventually head west to Evora. We missed the turn off, turned around a few miles farther, but again missed the turn-off to the belt highway and drove straight through Lisbon, over the suspension bridge, to eventually turn west between Lisbon and Setúbal. Lost time which we made up by skipping some of the intended sights on the way.

On the way to Evora we visited an area with pre-historic sights. According to the Michelin Green Guide, it would take about 3.5 hours to visit all the sights. Having lost time in getting the car (pick-up time was at least an hour later than anticipated), and then in taking the wrong road out of Lisbon, we cut down our visit to two of the sights and then went on to Evora. We wanted to be there early enough so that our friend could visit the ossuary which we had seen on our previous trip because we did not know if she would have the time the next day which was to be a full day excursion to Vila Viçosa and Estremoz. Our friend had a check list of what to see, so while Evora was just a stop for us on the way to the Algarve, it was a place to visit for her. She got to see ossuary chapel and eventually the cathedral and the Roman temple ruins.

Our lodgings were at the Stay Hotel Évora Centro, a stone’s throw from the main square. We were in the annex. Very clean, recently renovated, $124 for two nights. Some drivers actually drove to the front of the hotel in a fairly large car. I would not take the chance as the turn into the side street is very tight. We parked on a designated parking space for the hotel on one of the main streets going out of the walled city.

Our day’s outing was pleasant. We drove out to Vila Viçosa, stopped in a pottery town and picked up a couple of easy to carry and pack items, drove on to Vila Viçosa and had difficulties following any road directions that would lead to the center of town or the palace. Eventually we arrived at the palace, closed for lunch, and walked back to the pleasant main square where we picnicked on a bench. Those with a long reach can try the oranges from the orange trees that line the square. The palace can only be seen as a tour, and is disappointing. It’s big, but mainly has historical significance as a historical remembrance of how royalty lived. Its room reflect two hundred years of occupation up to the dissolution of the monarchy in the 20th century. Next to some of the gilded/tiled churches of Portugal, the palace is relatively plain on the inside and outside.

The area must be sitting on a bed of marble, for on the way to Estremoz we saw quite a few quarries and what looked like trash piles which were piles of quarried marble. We had a brief look at the walled town on top of the hill—my wife did not feel up to the climb—and then returned to Evora.

Two evening meals in Evora. One the ladies liked and remembered, the other a tourist venue that was recommended but was nothing special. The good restaurant is called Páteo and specializes in pork dishes made from the black-footed pig—the same breed that produces the most expensive Serrano ham in Spain. We did not have a reservation.

From Evora we drove to Serpa via Monsaraz. We had been in Monsaraz before, but I thought that our friend should see one of the perched white villages in that part of the country (Estremoz is one too, but we did not visit it properly). In the thirteen years since we wee there the physical nature of the town has hardly changed, but it now has multiple parking area outside its wall that I do not recall from the past, and the streets are full of visitors—the last time it felt deserted. But architecturally it is still lovely and one still can’t take photographs in its church.

I chose Serpa because it was reported that its small ethnographic museum whose collection had been recently (in the last 10 years) re-organized and was worth seeing. Unfortunately the building itself was being repaired and the museum was closed. We did see the fort with its collapsed wall at the entrance, and its very small and uninteresting archeological collection. We had a very good meal at Molho Bico restaurant, although my wife was disappointed by her main dish which was to be a Portuguese version of a bouillabaisse. It is listed as a very expensive restaurant, but compared to San Francisco prices, I recollect it as being moderate. We had first tried to find a less expensive venue but the cervejarias were all full because of either a national or a European cup soccer match. It is in Serpa that we had a credit card waiting for us. Our accommodations were at the Residencial Beatriz; clean but showing its age, $50.34 including a light continental breakfast. From Serpa we drove to the Algarve coast.

These are my combined pictures of the Alentejo and Setúbal provinces:

Our sojourn in the Algarve started in Tavira in the east, but we were based in Lagos for 5 days. So after a few hours in Tavira we drove directly to Lagos using the toll road; had some difficulty finding it and wandered around the seaside apartment buildings before getting on the road. When renting a car it is essential to rent also a transponder for the toll roads. There are no toll booths, so no opportunity to pay in cash or with credit cards; the system works on overhead “gates” that read the transponder. We were billed by the rental agency at the end of our trip with no extra fee above the rental itself. The non-toll roads are just one town after the other, not particularly attractive and slow going, so it is difficult to avoid the toll road going along the coast and move at a decent speed.

We rented an apartment in Lagos ($643 for 6 nights) that probably was the best in terms of amenities (AC, well-equipped kitchen), room, location. It overlooked the channel leading to the pleasure boat harbor and was 10 minutes from the central market for fresh seafood and vegetables, with a supermarket on the way. We did more cooking in this apartment than any other. In Lisbon we had light meals in the apartment, but did not do any real cooking. For one thing, the local supermarket was not enticing in terms of fresh foods.

For our visit to the Algarve divided the area into sections where we would drive for the day. Olhão took a late morning and afternoon, with a 2 hour boat ride in the lagoon with a stop at a fishing village on one of the islands. The old town has a maze of streets, interesting, but oriented toward the tourist trade. The working harbor is still busy, but with Japanese fishing boats. Apparently they catch tuna, and those that are too small are placed in pens in the lagoon to fatten them and then are shipped to Japan. The claim of our guide—only three customers on the boat—is that the Japanese have a right to catch tuna that locals are not allowed to catch. The town gives a sense of what it used to be, with some of the canning factories still standing near the waterfront, but it has all been cleaned up.

Another day we went to see the Almansil church. This is a must, possibly the epitome of Portuguese tile work. It is difficult to imagine how they managed to fire tiles that would fit the curvatures of arches and vaulting and still have a seamless design. From there we went to Loulé which is one of my preferred town—it has a large market, part of which oriented to the tourist trade but also having the standard market items; it has a small old town that is not over-commercialized; and it has a nearby shrine with an interesting combination of contemporary and old architecture with a panoramic view of Loulé itself. I can’t vouch for the summer season, but when we were there, the town was not overwhelmed by tourists and businesses catering to them.
A third outing was to Monchique, a small mountain town. Pleasant but not the destination given in the guidebooks. The very top of the mountain gives a wonderful view of that part of the Algarve all the way down to the ocean. We drove on to Silves, the guidebook recommended the church, but we arrived too late. The castle walls are impressive, but we did not have the impression that a visit inside the wall would be worthwhile.

Our final outing was to the southwestern most edge of Portugal, where Henry the Navigator established his navigation school. The information about that period is quite limited, but the scenery is most impressive. The two locations—the tip with the lighthouse and the fortress/school area— are more a reminder of the glories of Portugal in times gone by. I would not consider this a primary destination for those with limited time.

We took a lot of boat rides this trip. The first one was on our visit to Olhão. Then we took a morning boat ride to the cliffs and caves near Lagos, and in the afternoon we drove to Carvoeiro and the women took another boat ride to those sea caves while I walked the trail along the cliffs. The afternoon ride is said to be in the most picturesque caves, but I suspect that one tour is sufficient for those not enamored of boat rides for their own sake. More boat rides will crop up later in the narrative.

Good meals that I remember, aside from home cooking: There is a very small café in Monchique run by an Englishman that has salads and sandwiches for a light lunch. We had a good meal in a restaurant specializing in sea food in the old town of Lagos. We came upon it by walking around and looking at the menus. I had a fish that resides in the very deep waters off the Azores. Our final meal was in O Camilo, a restaurant that overlooks the ocean. Again seafood is really its specialty, and I regret not ordering the giant crustacean—half way between a shrimp and a clawless lobster—which would have cost 60€ a kilo, but one would have sufficed as an hors d’oeuvre for the three of us. I offered the suggestion but the others did not take me up on the suggestion. O Camilo is a perfect setting for a final meal in the Algarve.

These are the pictures of the Algarve:

We left Lagos and drove up the coast, although the drive is not comparable to roads that are directly on the coast, such as Highway 1 in California. It is possible to get to the coast by using feeder roads, but they generally do not follow the coast very closely, or if they do, it is not obvious from the maps. But the drive is pleasant, with a lunch stop in the coastal city of Sines, and going up the thin peninsula to take a ferry to arrive in Setúbal by late afternoon. We had reservations at the hotel Albergaria Laitau ($77.38 for one night), registered and left our luggage in our rooms, and went for a walk to the old town. The street we took was perhaps the best introduction to the town, with the blooming jacaranda matching the color of city hall.

We relaxed on the main square, and then walked around the old town. Eventually we decided to have dinner. Setúbal is known for cuttle fish and cooked oysters. It turns out restaurants specializing in these two sea foods limit their choice to one or the other item and are in different sides of the port. That was explained to us in one restaurant which was in the cuttle fish row—half a dozen restaurants close to the ferry landing—and we had cuttlefish. It is served as deep fried thick strips of white flesh, good but not fabulous and similar to squid; oysters would have been more interesting as in my experience oysters are usually served raw in Europe.

The next morning we left Setúbal, drove around Lisbon and stopped in Obidos for a mid-day visit. Obidos is a walled town which can be considered part of the main tourist Lisbon-Porto corridor. The town is the equivalent of a plus beau village and within its walls the commercial establishments are all directed toward tourism. We were there toward the end of May. It was crowded, but the crowds were bearable. Most of the visitors seem to stay along the main drag of the town, which means that the parallel streets had very few people. One walks between walls, with occasional glimpses in shaded courtyards of houses that are now small hotels or B&B’s. All of which is completely a-historical (pristine with no animal smells). It is worth a visit to the same degree as one would wish to visit Carcassonne or any other preserved hill-town village.

From Obidos we drove along the coast to Nazaré. I chose that one as a base to visit Alcobaça, Fátima and Batalha. The choice was based on a Rick Steves video that we had seen thanks to our traveling companion and since she used Rick Steves as her guide as to what to see, why not choose a picturesque town that he recommended? My recollection is that Rick Steves claimed that the upper town was now the real town where the fishermen lived. But that can’t be true. We stayed in the middle of an old town which clearly was the original fishing village and which for the most part is still occupied by locals. The older women still wore the traditional dress, albeit less colorful that the one worn by the vendors on the belvedere of the upper town. The main covered market and the city hall are at the bottom of the hill, and the streets were devoid of tourists even though 100 yards away was the beach and the row of restaurant upon restaurant along the beach-front street, along with summer hotels. We booked a place through (about $150 for two nights) which was interesting in its layout. The house was approximately 16ftx12ft. with two stories above the ground floor. The ground floor had the fully equipped kitchen with a small table, and the tiny bathroom with a washing machine tucked in a corner. The next floor had an open sitting area with a television and a bedroom, and the top floor was a converted attic with a double bed and two bunk beds. The light switch in that room was so badly placed that we left on the light in the landing below so that our friend could see where she was going if she needed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. We did a laundry and hung off the tiny balcony overlooking the street; our Lisbon clothpins came in handy. We only heated water for coffee while staying there for two nights, and ate at the fish restaurants recommended by the host. I enter these details because the layout and the size of the place were not obvious when I looked for rentals. Nor was it clear as to where the car would be parked, which was a walk to the weekly open market grounds behind the city hall in a “newer” part of the town 10 minutes away—getting closer to the house to drop off the luggage was an experience, and driving the car to the front of the house was not feasible.

I would stay there again, I am not sure that the other two would.

The full day we had in Nazaré was devoted to touring the three sites mentioned above. I chose Alcobaça which is an impressive monastery complex that should be seen, although I prefer Tomar which we had visited on a previous trip. We also stumbled upon the covered market, purchased lunch items and sat on a bench by the river for lunch. Our friend said that she wanted to see Fátima, which did not interest me, although the new basilica is impressive. We made a last minute decision to visit Batalha which we had seen on our previous trip but our friend had not.

Our next stop was Aveiro, going there via Coimbra whose spaghetti highway on the south side of the river is very confusing and it took us two tries before we were able to cross the bridge at the base of the old town. There is a small parking lot on the right side of the bridge that happened to have a space, an attendant, probably unofficial, waved us in. The meters were not working so we paid for the parking in the bus station next door and gave the attendant a tip when we left. Our friend went up the hill to visit the old university while we stayed below to visit that part of the old town, look for a post office, and have lunch at a small restaurant specializing in roast suckling pig (João dos Leitões). The old university tour is a must for any tourist, but the lower town with its narrow walking streets is definitely worth a visit and may often be overlooked.

Here are the pictures for this part of the trip, with some additions from a previous trip:

Our destination for the next two nights was Aveiro which is described in tour books as the Venice of Portugal. My wife chose it but we did not have hotel reservations which made our friend a little anxious. We drove down toward the old center of the town and fell upon the tourist office where we inquired about a hotel. They indicate one within walking distance, we went there and were quoted a rate of 120€ per room. My face must have fallen because the clerk immediately said that they had an annex with rooms for 70€ ($133.74 for two nights). Could we see them? The annex was across the street and had nice big rooms available that we obviously accepted.

Aveiro has two things going for it: Art Nouveau buildings and a proximity to an extensive brackish water wetlands, now protected and undoubtedly a bird watcher’s paradise during migration season. It really has only two canals enclosing the old town, and its comparison with Venice is a stretch. Beaches are on the far side of the estuary, and the town is not a seaside town. We took a boat tour of the estuary, mildly interesting with a sighting of a flock of flamingoes in the distance, and used a tourist map to find various Art Nouveau structures in different neighborhoods. We walked quite a bit, getting lost at one point, and asking for directions at the central fire station a person there dragged us to an auditorium where music was being played for the elderly (in care facilities?) as many were in wheelchairs or needed an assistant; our age must have been showing, and our African-American friend who is about fifteen years younger than us may have been taken as our care giver (my wife uses a cane). As with many European cities there are squares, parks and streets that offer interesting views, but most of the Art Nouveau of interest consists of the half dozen buildings along the canal, including the Art Nouveau museum which is of little interest except for its entrance—it’s a case of façadism. Once away from that area, the buildings listed on our map were often in derelict shape.

Our final destination in Portugal was Porto. We had an Airbnb apartment ($418 for 4 nights) one and a half block from the waterfront. It was absolutely pristine and not someone’s apartment at other times. The rooms had no storage space. The second bedroom was an interior room with no windows to the exterior, just a 6” to 8” wide floor to ceiling window into the living area that could be opened to help air circulation (no AC). It had no washing machine so we went to a local laundromat. The buildings are in transition. Ours was probably a short-term rental apartment building. Next door they were rehabing a building that would become a hotel, but we could look across the street and see the laundry of local residents hanging on the balconies.

We took a boat tour on the Douro River, going through two locks and then returning by train to Porto. It probably was less interesting that the tour on a smaller boat that we wanted to take but which was fully booked. No wine tasting, but they did provide a glass of wine for lunch on the boat. It’s very relaxing, no pressure, and one does get a feel for the Douro Valley, although we only saw the beginning of the grape growing area. While in town we went to Gaia to tour one of the Port houses, and there had a tasting of three different Ports. We discovered that we like the dry white port that some houses produce. For serious Port tasting I would stick to tasting rooms that are found close to the waterfront in Porto itself because they would offer a far larger selection of Ports to taste. We walked around Porto a lot, and will let the photos speak to that point, although there is one site that should be visited where no photographs are allowed: The Church of Saint Francis of the Third Order which is over the top in Baroque decoration. For some reason some of these over-the-top churches do not allow photography. That applies to the Almansil church and the church of San Antonio in Lagos.

One restaurant recommendation: an all you can eat vegan restaurant (Da Terra, R. de Mouzinho da Silveira 249) between the train station and the riverfront. It will make up for the lack of vegetables in other meals, and the food is quite good.

These are the pictures for this portion of the trip:

We had an 8:30 flight and caught a cab at 6 a.m. This was not a problem; half a block down, across from a large hotel is a 24 hour taxi stand, and had there been no taxis available (there were at least three), I am sure that the hotel could have helped us out. The plane left more than three hours late which led to complications that will be discussed in the next report.

Last edited by Michael; Nov 12th, 2019 at 04:06 PM.
Michael is offline  
Nov 12th, 2019, 04:41 PM
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Michael, great report! Loved your photos. Sorry about your experience with pickpockets, but seems that you were able to "recover" and have an enjoyable time.
tomarkot is offline  
Nov 13th, 2019, 10:11 AM
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Thanks so much for posting. We are headed on a fairly long driving trip through Portugal next April so it great to see some of the details in your report. So sorry to hear about your loss of your wallet-that must have been upsetting and annoying until you figured out how to get the issues solved!
jpie is offline  
Nov 13th, 2019, 12:11 PM
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If costs are an issue, it is my experience that tends to be less expensive than Airbnb. The Nazaré house was rented through
Michael is offline  
Nov 14th, 2019, 08:46 AM
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Yes I would agree with booking being cheaper generally than airbnb. We mostly used booking because we like to book with free cancellation and although airbnb is trying to increase ways to make their cancellation policies more flexible, we still think booking is easier and better on that score-although sometimes they do set a rate that is a bit higher for the ability to have the free cancellation.
jpie is offline  
Nov 14th, 2019, 05:56 PM
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I really enjoyed your photos, especially of Lisbon!!
KarenWoo is online now  
Nov 14th, 2019, 06:05 PM
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Just curious, what is your favorite place on the Algarve? Your pictures are great! I've always read negative things about the Algarve, but your photos make it look interesting and beautiful.
KarenWoo is online now  
Nov 14th, 2019, 06:31 PM
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The obvious negative about the Algarve is the summer season which must be impossible. A great deal of the coast has modern development, including the apartment complex where we stayed. However, it was not right on the seashore, which mitigated its effect. Olhão is very pleasant even as a tourist town. But my favorites were Almansil as a singular site and Loulé as a town. The boat rides to the seaside caves are very enjoyable, and I chose not to see the most spectacular ones. The boat entrance, which is the only one available, is often just one boat wide, and the inside of the cave accommodates maybe three boats, which means that there must be lines in the summer time. I liked Lagos as a base.
Michael is offline  
Nov 29th, 2019, 09:32 AM
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Cleaning out saved items from the Portuguese trip, I found the card of the fado venue which I liked very much. The multi-lingual aspect of the card indicates that it is not a non-tourist venue, should anyone be searching for authenticity unspoiled by tourism.

Michael is offline  
Nov 30th, 2019, 09:51 AM
Join Date: Nov 2019
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Sounds fantastic!
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