The Portugal Guide
Oh, Portugal. Why'd you have to go and give me all those warm and fuzzy feelings... just to remind me that I can't stay forever?
As many of you know, travel is a necessity in my life. It has just the right amount of special sauce to unleash creativity and remind me how expansive and stunning this big blue ball of a world is. I tend to view travel as a steady reminder of all the ways you can design your life to your liking. There are so many ways to live it!
Sometimes all you need to do is get out there, soak up the new people, new smells, and new patterns of reality to come back with a new (and much improved) perspective.
Portugal was everything the doctor ordered.
Ok, enough with the heart strings... let's get into the insider's guide to traveling Portugal (ideally by car).
Porto >> Douro Valley >> Coimbra >> Obidos >> Sintra >> Lisbon >> Lagos.
<< PORTO >>
Porto was... cool. I mean, it didn't make my panties drop but it was a great place to knock off the list. Some people have told me that Porto is their favorite city in Portugal. Me, not so much. It was great to see but... meh.
However, drinking wine riverside was definitely a memorable moment. And while it may not sound like it, the thousands (yes, thousands) of steps it took to get back up into the town was just as wonderful. You can't really go wrong with a full moon and a beautiful lit up bridge leading your way through the cobble stone streets.
<< DOURO VALLEY >>
After two nights in Porto (just enough to get our jet-lag in tact) we headed two hours south to Douro Valley to drink wine in the birth place of Port. It's like the Napa Valley of Portugal, but 1000x more stunning (if that's even possible). The leaves had just changed colors and the atmosphere was nothing short of enchanting... and uber romantic. I loved having my best friend by my side, but HOLY SHIT if you had a lover along for the ride this place would be exceptional.
Side note: if you want to get married in Portugal, you must check this out.
We stayed at a cute old hotel right on the river that ran through the valley (The Vintage House). It was complete with a view of passing boats on one side, and vineyards on the other. Our only regret was not staying longer...
<< OBIDOS >>
After two days (one night) in wine country we headed further south to Obidos. This was a little over a three hour drive, with a stop in Coimbra (the university town) in between. Obidos is a magical little town wrapped by castle walls. If the cobble stone streets leading you to little mom-and-pop shops isn't enough to win you over, surely the white buildings with blue and yellow trim will catch your heart. It genuinely felt like I was on a set of a movie. As we drank "ginga" (cherry flavored liquor they drink out of chocolate cups) and giggled our way through the streets. I fell in love with every single corner of this tiny town. I have a feeling I'll find myself here in my dreams.
<< SINTRA >>
Sintra is a fairy-tail town dotted with mansions, palaces, vertical gardens and lush hills. It's also easily accessible from Lisbon by train for a day trip if that's what you're into. There are a handful of palaces to visit but only one that you can NOT miss. If you're spending any time in Sintra you're required to visit Pena Palace. I feels like Disney Land for adults... on drugs. It was hard to believe it was actually real.
<< LAGOS >>
We nearly didn't make it to Lagos as it was technically off season and the Algarve is mostly known for it's summer weather and beach day shenanigans. But let's be real, we're Wyoming girls. A little cold weather wasn't going to stop us from hitting the beach. And I'm so glad we did! Lagos has insane rock formations that jet straight out of the water. There were hiking trails all along the edges to run around on, and they were all relatively accessible to one another. I imagine if you get a boat on a warm summer day and go find a private alcove, you'll really be living the dream. Do it and invite me, would ya?!
<< LISBON >>
Oh man... Lisbon. It gave me ALL the feels. We figured that two days would be plenty of time there initially. A city is a city, and well... you can kinda get the gist in a short time if needed. Right? Wrong. Lisbon kept me enticed and searching in every corner even in the weeks after we left. It's a bit like San Francisco (same architect built their bridge) with it's tight streets and hilly landscape, but way WAY cooler because, well... Europe. Not to mention the Fado Music in Lisbon undoubtedly southed my soul. If you're not familiar with Fado, it's old Portugese Blues. Typically males (occasionally females) get up a belt out in song from the bottom of their soul. Yes, full blown SOUL signing. We sat in a cozy little bar where you shared tables with others, drank wine, and watched the singers rotate in and out - each more exceptional than the last. We didn't go just once, but BOTH nights we were there. Generally when traveling I tend not to repeat experience things, but hot diggity damn. This is absolutely worth it. I could actually live in Lisbon. I may or may not have been checking out apartments online while I was there...
AND JUST LIKE THAT IT STOLE A SLIVER OF MY SOUL...
If you're headed to Portugal take some suggestions, leave some suggestions... do yo thangggg. It's your time to enjoy but please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about places I went or my take on anything. We all know how excited travel makes me...
Adventure on my friends!
Dinner riverside at sunset (into evening) is never a bad idea in Porto.
Driving Into Douro Valley
As we winded our way up and over a mountain full of vineyards we couldn't help but stop to take it all in. How could you not?
The home of the oldest Port wine in the world. Go there. You're welcome.
Douro Valley Vineyards
I wasn't sure if these colors were actually real life. If you're looking for somewhere to get married in Portugal, I may have found your spot!
The fairy-tail town of Obidos, for your viewing pleasure.
((insert live music on the street corners))
A Breakfast Made For Queens
I'm certain I'll never forget this morning sipping on a nut milk cappuccino from inside of the castle in Obidos.
This lush little town was a sight to tantalize all the senses. Sintra, you stun me.
Pena Palace in Sintra
I mean, it's not real... right?
She drove. I took photos.
... but don't let this photo fool you. I'm awful with directions.
The beauty about driving your own car is the many stops you can take along the way. This was the view from Porto Covo after we stopped for lunch in this little fishing village.
Lagos, I love you.
An evening spent climbing around the beach walls at sunset...
Grottos in Lagos
Get on one of the many tours, and head into the grottos!
Moments in Lisbon
I'll live in Lisbon someday. Promise.