Our Excellent Portugal Adventure – Final

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Light shining through the water in a cave in Benagil

Back to the Start

On Tuesday, we left Lagos in the south of Portugal and prepared for the 300 Km drive back to the Lisbon airport where we dropped off our rental car. We had the car for 10 days but it was no longer needed as we will spend the remaining 4 days of our trip here in Lisbon before flying back home. We remembered that we spent our first night in a hotel here in Lisbon near the airport about 10 days ago when we first arrived and before picking up our rental car, heading to Evora. It was the right decision to stay in a hotel when we first arrived as we didn’t want to arrive in Portugal after our long flights jet lagged and then jump in a rental car right away for a long drive. We did this a few years ago in Spain and it was not a good decision.

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Colourful umbrellas on Rua Sao Paulo in Lisbon

As is the case in most big cities, getting to our accommodations from the airport in Lisbon took longer than expected. It was the middle of the day and we sat in the back of the taxi slowly making our way through heavy traffic getting to the apartment we had rented. It was somewhat reminiscent of the long taxi ride through heavy traffic getting to our rented apartment in Paris almost a year ago.

The taxi driver could not even make it onto the small, narrow street that our apartment was on so he dropped us off at the corner and we made our way with suitcases trundling along the rough cobblestone street. The area where we are staying is mostly 100-year-old buildings so the narrow streets were definitely not designed with cars in mind.

There’s a photo of our narrow street on my photo website.

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Monument of the Discoveries in Lisbon

We’re Not Staying Here, Are We?

My first impressions of the apartment we’re staying at here in Lisbon were … not good. In fact, I went as far as suggesting that we should leave the apartment (which we had pre-paid) and go to a hotel. We ended up deciding to give it one night and then decide if we were going to stay in the apartment which we ended up doing. We’ve now been here three nights, leaving tomorrow and while the apartment turned out to not be as horrible as I originally thought I would never stay there again.

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Wavy pattern of the tiles in Rossio Square, Lisbon

The City

While I write this last section, we’ll be spending our last full day in Lisbon today as we fly home tomorrow morning. Both of us have taken in a lot of impressions of our stay in Lisbon over the past few days, almost all exceedingly positive.

I’ve written this many times that I love big cities and European big cities most of all. There are many visual cues here in Lisbon that remind us of our favourite city, Paris. The many steep hills here in Lisbon are unique but the number of distinct neighbourhoods and a very much walkable city is most enjoyable. Since arriving in Portugal, we’ve been walking everywhere, even when we had the rental car, putting in many kilometres a day. I’m not looking forward to returning home to very much a car-oriented environment where walking is almost incidental. As I’ve gotten older, I believe that the large amount of walking that we get on these types of trips is more and more important than ever to good health.

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Bica Funicular in Lisbon

Lisbon has an excellent subway and it can make getting around very efficient. It’s very unusual for me but I didn’t use the metro once in our 4 days in Lisbon, as I’ve preferred to walk everywhere. Today I made it to one particular place I was looking forward to seeing. It was the yellow funicular and if you recall, the Lisbon travel poster I used in Part 1 showed the iconic yellow funicular which has been in service here in Lisbon since the late 1800’s.

As we often have the windows in our apartment open, we’ve regularly reminded that we are not in a tourist area but in a residential area surrounded by locals. As the weather is still warm and most of our neighbours also have their windows open, it’s normal to hear people talking, babies crying or dogs barking from the adjacent apartments. If we were in a hotel or even in the condo we stayed in, hearing these things would be an annoyance but here in a real neighbourhood, it just seems normal.

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And Finally …

Tomorrow Barb and I will be flying back home, concluding our time here in Portugal. It’s always a bit sad to be leaving a place that has been so enjoyable only to return to life again.

One of the best decisions we made when planning this trip was to limit the geography and the number of places we stayed. It would have been tempting to try and see more of Portugal, especially the northern half but limiting ourselves to just the southern half reduced our travel times and we only had to travel between three locations so staying put for 4-5 days at a time made for a much more relaxing trip.

Portugal now stands out for us as the least expensive place in Europe we have been to. In Evora and Lagos especially, it can be very inexpensive, compared to Vancouver, to dine out. This compounds itself as tipping is not an expectation here and back home usually adding 18-20% to the bill.

I’m continually surprised by how many people in Portugal are still smoking. As outdoor dining is popular as the weather is still warm, it’s a certainty that a table next to you or multiple tables around you will have smokers. Given how little this is allowed in Canada, even on outdoor tables, it’s a wonder how much it’s tolerated here.

Not surprisingly, the language was a bit of a struggle but in the rare cases where neither of us spoke a common language just pointing at menus or using Google Translate was usually sufficient. Being able to say thank you in Portuguese (obrigado for me, obrigada for Barb) was often the most important word to remember.

We both plan to come back again to Portugal sometime in the future, seeing the regions we didn’t get to on this trip but realistically it will be many years given all the other plans we have…

Irons in the Fire

While it’s fairly normal for Barb and I to think about future travel destinations before returning home from an existing trip, it’s unusual to have booked future travel before even leaving home. This happens to be the case for 2024. At least 4-6 weeks ago, we booked a vacation in February and we made a partial booking for later in the year, almost a full year in advance.

Is next year a special year for us? Yes, 2024 will be our 30th anniversary. My blog updates might not return again until next October

By now I’ve uploaded all of our photos from our Excellent Portugal Adventure to my photo website here.

One last thing. It’s normal for Barb and I to purchase local data service for our phones. It allows us to use our maps and texting while in foreign countries and not have to worry about data roaming crates. In the old days, we used to buy SIM cards and swap them out but for the past few years, we’re now purchasing eSIMs which are infinitely easier to deal with and can be bought for any country or region in the world. If you’re travelling and would find having a local cellular data plan to be of use, I have been using a website called Airalo.com and highly recommend it. I’ve used them at least 6-7 times.

All the best and until next year,