Cascais: a great way to end a holiday

We ended two terrific weeks in Portugal in the beach town of Cascais (pronounced: Kish-kaysh). This town has a lot going for it: close proximity to Lisbon, beautiful beaches to its west and along its promenades, a lovely historic old town and like the rest of Portugal, great food and people. We didn’t do much sight seeing here, mostly just kicked back and prepped for our return home. I will let the photographs describe this great seaside town. Adeus Cascais and Portugal, for now.

The Sintra National Palace, I mean who doesn’t have a Julius Caesar room?

Since we still had our aforementioned car, we skipped our train back to Lisbon and Cascais and detoured en route to Sintra. Sintra sits at the foot of the Natural Park of Sintra-Cascais. We had limited time as we wanted to get to the beach and Cascais so we strolled about a bit, had a lunch and hit the Royal Palace. Tip #1: Sintra is very touristy. Not that other places we went were not, but this place is built for tourists. Tip #2: While all of Portugal seems to be paved with cobblestone sidewalks, these ones seemed particularly steep…

Evora. More than just a bone church.

Nestled among rolling golden hills of cattle ranches, vineyards and cork trees sits Evora. This area is known to have been inhabited since BC. 4-3,000 BC to be exact… Since we had a car (unplanned, since the trains were on strike the day we needed to make it to Evora) we visited Anta Grande do Zambujeiro. This is an ancient funerary outside of Evora in the middle of the aforementioned cattle ranch land. It makes one wonder, how the heck did they move those stones? Hmmm… Fast forward to the Romans, Evora was a major city on the trade route…

Trains, automobiles and the Knights Templar: our side trip to Tomar, Portugal

Sometimes, in Europe, the trains go on strike. That means limited or no information. It could be hours or it could be all day. We arrived at the beautiful Porto train station on just such a day. If 30 years of business travel in the US has taught me anything it’s that things go wrong and it’s always best to try to be in control of your own destiny. So, with more than 300 kilometers to go before we slept on our heaviest train day of the trip and with limited time in Portugal, when the train system brought us…

Porto Portugal on a weekend

If Coimbra’s train station makes you initially question why you are there, Porto’s embraces you with open arms. It’s walls are adorned with blue and white ceramic tiles with “scenes of daily life” and everyone seems happy to be there. Stop, look up, take a minute and soak it in…. welcome to Porto. This city straddles the Douro River where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. It’s multiple bridges rise higher and higher towards the sky from the banks of the Douro approximately 280 feet below. The pastel colored buildings of the old city and waterfront landings bustle with restaurants, wine…

Douro Valley: Pintas, Casas, Portos and a float

As a side trip from Porto, we arranged a private tour to the wine country of the Douro River Valley. Melissa found a tour operated by Jorge “Barefoot” Matias on Trip Advisor and we were not disappointed. Jorge is a lovely man and will custom make a tour for you. We just put ourselves in his capable hands and let him take us where he chose. First of all, the Douro Valley is incredibly beautiful. Pictures can’t capture it (though we tried with more than 200 snaps, some of which are shared here). Our ride up (see the end of…

Coimbra, Portugal not just your average college town

As you step out of the train station you think, hmm what have I done? Fear not, as you ascend to the Praca do Commercio (shopping square) and then further up the hill to the University you become further and further enlightened to the charms of Coimbra. Once Portugal’s capitol, Coimbra is home to one of the oldest universities in the world. The university sits atop the hill with amazing views of the city, Mondego river and the countryside beyond. It’s a great spot for catching sunset or wandering around. It’s Patio das Escolas square, upon which the library sits,…