During the school year, we need to plan any extended vacations around the school calendar. That means two weeks at Christmas, a week and a half at Spring Break, and dozens of miscellaneous scattered holidays that sometimes fall on a Thursday and therefore turn the weekend into four days. (Love those.) Our wedding date didn’t necessarily fall on any particular holiday, meaning we took time off for the wedding itself (and prep, and travel time, etc.) but the following week we both had to be back to work. Let me clarify that I am NOT complaining in the least, simply explaining.
SO, we decided to take advantage of Spring break for a “pre-honeymoon” trip. Neither of us had been to Portugal, which seems super silly considering where we live, right? We did a bunch of research and planned a driving trip of 11 nights…driving wasn’t so bad at all, minus a slightly longer trip on the first day, and the hike of a return trip from Lisbon on the last day, we spread it out pretty well. And although it rained, like a LOT, we had a great time and somehow the sun decided to show itself on just the right days for sightseeing.
Our first stop was actually in Aldea del Obispo, Spain, to break up the length of the drive into Portugal. The hotel was a fort began in the 1600s and finished near 1750. It was awesome.
OUr next stop, where we spent a few nights, was Oporto. It is a really beautiful – hilly – city situation right on the river, with great food, great Port (if you’re into it), good wine, and just a really cool vibe.
In an effort to not make this a 22 page post, I am trying to put only one picture of each place. And I’m even skipping over some of the stops we made in between cities. But I love this view – there are cafes, bars, markets all along the river, and it was finally sunny!
We stayed one night in Coimbra. It’s a pretty little town, but sort of unremarkable for the most part. There is a big university there, and some pretty streets. Otherwise, the draw is Fado, a type of folk music accompanied by guitar, and in Coimbra (there are more types of Fado throughout Portugal), sung only by men.
Then we moved on to Sintra, a city of fairytale like castles and palaces at every turn. We were lucky enough to have a really spectacular day and see just about everything there was to see. Obviously, one picture can’t represent it all, but this one was taken from above the city at the Castle of the Moors. Loved Sintra.
I lied, just another Sintra shot, the Monserrat Palace.
Dangit, okay, last Sintra picture and then I’m moving on.
Next stop, Evora. The Roman Temple of Diana is probably the most well known landmark in the city, but there are many other interesting sites – the Chapel of Bones, the cathedral, and several beautiful churches. And some really amazing food, although we seem to have found that everywhere.
Snicker. He said he was trying to get it to raise it’s feathers. I know how it looks…
Lisbon, our last stop. A cool, vibrant (REALLY touristy) city…plenty to see and to do, half of which we didn’t even get around to. Fun, different neighborhoods, and something interesting around every corner.
The church/monastery/castle/palace count on this trip was HIGH to say the very least. But we can’t possibly take a trip without a stop at some ruins. These, at Conimbriga, were huge and some parts really well preserved.
Like I said, that is just a summary. We have a whole photo book’s worth of pictures from every stop along the way, every site. It was a wonderful trip, we really did see a little of everything (and a lot of some things…snort), but I’d go back and spend a long weekend in Oporto or in Lisbon in a heartbeat.