Lisbon, Portugal- June 2018

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Something I had to consider when I was planning this trip was limiting the number of stops and connections I made because I was at maximum capacity with my bags.  Originally I had planned on going to Porto, but it required a connection so instead I opted to fly direct to Lisbon instead.  I was meeting up with friends and after 8 days in practical seclusion, I was looking forward to social interaction.

Ironically it was pouring rain the first few days, I ended up just giving up on site-seeing. , including skipping my trip to Porto.  I made the mistake of leaving the hotel and got into shopping trouble. More like I discovered Vista Alegre. Which would have been fine had I been heading straight home, but I had one stop. Oops. I could not resist.

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Luckily the sun finally came out and we were able to do a bit of sightseeing. But first we ate. We had asked the hotel for a recommendation and they suggested A Gina. I was intrigued by the Secret Black Pig. It was SO good. So much so that we went back for seconds the next night.

After a very filling lunch, we decided to walk around town  and burn it off.

It a little chilly for June in Lisbon.  And having walked too many of the 7 hills the day before, we decided to do a Tram Car Tour. It was hilarious. We had seats right behind the tram driver and it added to the enjoyment. First all the streets are narrow in Lisbon. They have to fight with pedestrians, cyclists, motorist and stupid people.  At one point a cyclist was riding in the middle of the street.  No amount of bell ringing was making the guy move. Finally at the red light, the tram driver told the guy you have to share the road. The guy started arguing “Why? It’s Saturday, I want to enjoy my bike ride”…even though this exchange was in Portuguese, it was obvious the guy was not going to give in. After a 2 minute exchange, the Tram driver just said enough and resumed our tour. We hit another snag, with a car blocking the the tram tracks.  The driver kept ringing the bell, which brought out some on lookers. They then proceeded to yell at the driver that he had plenty of room to clear and why wouldn’t he just try.  5 minutes later a harried van driver arrived and we were on our way.  45 minutes on the tram, who knew it would be so entertaining.

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We did so more walking around, more eating and just enjoyed our time in Lisbon. Frequently stopping for drinks and food.  If it only it had been a little warmer.

Its always fun to discover new places with friends.  Soon it was time to head off to my new and final stop, Paris.  But first I had to figure out how I was going to sneak my new purchases on the flight, since they clearly were NOT going to fit in my suitcases.

Travel tip- look for a friendly business man that has only one carry on. Ask him nicely if he wouldn’t mind carrying your 3rd carry-on because you are over the limit……..

Stay tuned for Paris!

Portugal and Spain- December 2016

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I’ve been wanting to visit Portugal for years! It was on the top of the list of places that I wanted to visit but for some reason, it never made it into my travel plans.I had planned on being in the States for holidays, but my plans changed and I ended up coming in a week earlier then planned. I love my family, but 3 weeks, especially at the holidays was just not going to happen.

As much as I love European Christmas Markets, I was not willing to bear the cold weather. And the best ones, in my opinion,close on December 24th. I had fun trying to find a location that would not be too cold and that I could also get a decent flight. Oh and I need to fly on American Airlines or at least a One World partner because I need to the miles to keep my status. Madrid and Barcelona, ticked each box. I had been to Barcelona a few years, so I opted for Madrid. But then I realized I was so close to Portugal. I decided to just book another ticket, wise use of my British Airways Miles, and headed straight to Lisbon.

Best idea, ever!  Here is the part that I should say it was awful, that I had a horrible time and I would not recommend it at all.  I would say this so it stays amazing and does not become over run with tourists.  I just felt relaxed. Not paranoid about pickpockets like I was in Spain,  or ring scams in Paris. The skies were blue, albeit a little chilly. The streets were clean and while there were tourist there were not everywhere. They had the fun pedestrian paths in the middle of the busy streets, like in Barcelona.

I made an interesting hotel choice. I did not, gasp, stay at a Hilton or Hyatt. I stayed at a Marriott property, Fontecruz Lisboa.  It’s more boutique then large chain hotel. The location was great, located on one of the major streets. I  headed out to take in the sights. I opted for the Hop on Hop off bus. I find they are a great way to orient yourself in a new city. I tend to do the loop first and then hop off.

Lisbon is quite walk-able, if you can handle the cobble streets and some hills. Ladies, bring your sensible shoes. In fact, just bring an old ugly pair so you have an excuse to go shop. I did… at Moskkito. It was quite an adventure trying to get my stuff home.

I took sidetrips to Sintra and Fatima.  I booked the tours last minute and ended up on a big bus one. I wish I had done better research and gone with a smaller tour company.  I probably could have done them on my own. Something to redo on the next trip.

There was situation with a nutella crepe in Sintra. Let’s just say I learned my lesson about trying to eat messy street food. I am still finding nutella on stuff.

I headed back to Madrid for New Year’s Eve. I had high hopes of doing all this sightseeing, specially checking out the Prado Museum.  All those plans changed drastically when I arrived and it was freezing.  I was tired and cold and so basically I did nothing in Madrid. Well nothing that I am willing to admit doing on this public blog. There may or may not have been a potential meal at a American chain restaurant.

I really enjoyed this trip, I just wish I had more time. And I probably go back when the weather is warmer. I also think if I had to do it again, I would suggest doing Madrid first, then Lisbon. Two totally different cities with different energies.

Until next time, safe travels!