Sunday, September 18, 2011

Our Favorite Place So Far - Portugal

Our trip to Portugal began with a plane from Marrakech to Madrid and from there an overnight train to Lisbon.  It was a beautiful clear day for the flight and from the plane we could see where the continents of Europe and Africa sit so close together, as well as Gibralter, the British territory at the south edge of Spain.

On the train we had a 4 person 2nd class couchette compartment that we could lock from the inside.  It had a small sink and mirror, and with the fare came a bottle of water and grooming kit (toothbrush,toothpaste, soap and razor) per person.  It was pretty cozy (small) but other than that comfortable and we all slept through the night.

We were met at the station in the morning by the world's nicest vacation home owner (a lovely German woman named Dagmar) who took our bags so we could explore Lisbon for the day prior to heading out to our home for the week in Sintra.  Lisbon is definitely one of the prettiest capitol cities I've ever seen.  We spent the day hiking up to and around the Castel St George and wandering the streets and the waterfront.

The rest of the week we explored the ancient town of Sintra and the surrounding area.  Dagmar calls her place an apartment but actually it is most of a house.  We had the top two floors of a wonderfully restored, warmly decorated, modernly outfitted and very well located home.  Everyone had their own bedroom and own bathroom and just like at home we never ran out of hot water - without a doubt our favorite accommodation thus far.

Sintra is famous for castles and palaces and we saw our fare share.  Our favorite was built by the Moors in the 12th century.  Climbing the ramparts and towers was vertigo inducing but the views were absolutely amazing.

One day we headed for the beach, but huge surf and a disapproving lifeguard forced the kids out of the water so we moved to a large local salt water pool instead.  Peyton is a skilled tumbler and can therefore throw some pretty impressive tricks off a high dive. I like the expressions of the local boys in the pic below.  The teens were a very friendly bunch and Wilder in particular had fun hanging out with them for the day, diving, swimming and playing foosball.

Another enjoyable outing was the antique toy museum.  Wilder proclaimed it has favorite museum ever.

It turns out we inadvertently saved the best for last as we headed on our final day to Cascais, a gorgeous city on the water with a marina and lots of picturesque beaches and dramatic cliffs.  We all loved this city and pledged to come back some day, partly because we arrived too late to use the bicycles the city provides for free.  Seriously though it was the kind of place I thought I could happily live.

Peyton took advantage of a grassy park to do some tumbling and Mark challenged her to a handstand contest.  You can see who won.

We almost didn't make it to Cascais at all.  I had determined (with insufficient research it turns out) that we should take the local bus.  The ride turned out to be an hour and a half of hair raising turns up and down ridges and valleys at break next speed in the midday heat and, in our case, seated backwards on a very crowded bus.  Peyton and I both came very close to losing our breakfast.  It wouldn't have been pretty on that packed and very warm bus.  It was only because I refused to return home on said bus that we came to find out a taxi takes a different, very straight and direct route in a third of the time, and because there are four of us, cost less money.

Today we depart for Paris and, while we are excited about that, this is the first place we are really sad to leave.  I see as I put together this post that the pictures I took really fail to do it justice.  Had we not already booked ahead we would have happily stayed another week at the lovely house in Sintra and then headed up the cost to see the north of Portugal as well.  There is nothing for it then but that we will have to come back some day.


  1. Your trip so far sounds just amazing! We are enjoying reading about your adventure. Safe travels. Nicole & Tim

  2. Loving ALL of your posts, Carrie, and enjoying Portugal photos best so far.

    I'm delighted as I sit at my desk enjoying your posts over lunch, thankful for your generosity in sharing the adventure.

    Much joy to you!