Portugal anyone?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Steven Schwartz, Jun 11, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Looking for a Kalboz for Portugal! In case you don't know him, go to the Thailand thread and you will see just how knowledgeable and generous he is.

    I have a BA Companion ticket that expires next July and we decided to use it for Portugal. We've never been there. Candidly, we have a big trip to Thailand in January and a couple of timeshare stays in Scottsdale and Palm Springs and if this Companion Pass did not expire, we'd put the trip off. And that's a big part of the reason we need to keep this to 10 days at most.

    My sense is that we would fly to Faro and enjoy the Algarve for 4-5 days. From what I've read, most recommend renting a car for this and that would be fine.

    We would then go to Lisbon for another 4-5 days. What's the best way to get there? Should we keep the car for day trips outside Lisbon or would that me more trouble than it's worth?

    I realize that our time constraints mean that we would be skipping the north and areas like Porto but just can't do everything.

    I greatly appreciate any and all recommendations! Many thanks.

    Steve
     
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  2. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    I can't reply as an expert, or even experienced, only as someone who once started planning a honeymoon in Portugal. And I'd like to see this thread fill out too.

    For your last question, the train is only 45 minutes to Sintra outside of Lisbon. The reports are that parking is difficult in Sintra, and you can't really drive within the city.

    It's over two hours by train and you might prefer a car to get to Óbidos, Évora, or Coimbra, the three cities that look very interesting for historical/cultural/architectural reasons. (There's a Starwood property outside Évora that gets rave reviews.)

    And don't worry about the language barrier; even the Brazilians can't understand what they're saying.
     
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  3. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Ah, but they understand the Brazilians! I wish I knew more about Portugal too. I have been there numerous times but all of them long enough ago that I can offer no insight. You'd think we'd have many people who know a lot about Portugal. I can advise about Spain...
     
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  4. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Bump. Anyone?
     
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  5. OY-JFS
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    OY-JFS Gold Member

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    I used to live in Portugal some years ago.
    Driving in Portugal is quite easy, car rental is cheap.
    Many streets in the Lisbon city center are narrow, and navigating can be hard. Consider having your Lisbon base in Estoril or Cascais, and doing day-tours from there, including to Lisbon. Rental car would be nice for tours to Sintra etc. You can take train, bus or taxi to/from Lisbon.
     
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  6. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Now looking at landing in Lisbon and taking a train the next morning to Faro. Spending time in the Algarve and driving back to Lisbon.

    Need a hotel for one night that is convenient for us to land at the airport and take an early train the next morning. Any ideas???

    As always - thanks so much!
     
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  7. Brad W.

    Brad W. Active Member

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    Portugal is a great choice. I've been three times now and love the place--probably my absolute favorite destination in Europe and a great place to spend ten days.

    For hotels in Lisbon, I haven't had great luck finding a hotel that subscribes to a major rewards program (if that's what you're looking for). I have really enjoyed the Bairro Alto and the LX Boutique. Both are centrally located, but it's not a tough jaunt to the airport, and the train station is very close. Both have higher rack rates but are often on sale. Consider checking a Virtuoso or other travel agent's rates if you're seeing higher-than-expected prices. I used Nuno Tavares of Tours for You (http://www.toursforyou.pt/) and got great deals on my last trip.

    Lisbon's fantastic, and the Algarve is great. I'd definitely try to take a day to see Sintra. It's an easy train ride, and it's not that bad a taxi fare from Lisbon. (I think I remember paying 30 euros last time.) Evora and other towns in the Alentejo (SE of Lisbon) are a bit more off the beaten path, but the countryside is fantastic, and the food and people are really great. (Plus, if you're a Starwood guy, there is a very nice hotel (Convento do Espineiro) outside Evora.)

    Lots to see in Lisbon, of course. Make sure to see the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem (and check out the bakery Pasteis de Belem just around the corner) and just enjoy the neighborhoods Bairro Alto and Baixo. If you make it to Sintra, it is a great town for walking. I recommend the restaurant A Raposa (across the valley in the newer part of town). I'm sure you'll have a great time whatever you do. Keep us posted here and let us know of any questions!
     
  8. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Brad - that was great. Many thanks. I'll check out everything you wrote about!
     
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  9. Brad W.

    Brad W. Active Member

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    Steve--how was the trip?
     
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  10. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Slow down big guy! We're not going until June. But I promise a full report after that and if you have any more ideas, keep em coming!
     
  11. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    Hey, I've been to Lisbon ... :)

    I went to Portugal in May/June 2002 solo to unwind and the trip done me very good. I stayed at the Lisbon Marriott (on Ave. dos Combatentes) for 10 days. The Marriott was okay, got it for $60 on Priceline (no loyalty at the time :D) and the breakfast buffet spread was for around $20. Bathtub got clogged up and was cleaned but they did not fix it during my stay. They lost power on my final night there for maintenance work and I had to climb up several flights of stairs with flash light to get to my room! It was my fault as they did advise guests that the power would be off after a certain time, but I was having such a good time in town that I forgot! For $60/night, I am not complaining here, just making my observations.

    I used a combination of self touring and hired tour company. For self touring, I took the metro (metropolitano) or just walked to downtown to see: Marques Pombal Gardens : wonderful place to visit, they had a huge book fair when I went through.
    [​IMG]
    Baxia & Chiado: Many elegant shops and boutiques and the streets are full of very freindly people even in the middle of the night just socializing and partying. There is Santa Justa historical elevator, a beautiful monument with ornamental cast iron that connects the two neighborhoods. It was built 100 plus years ago by a disciple of Gustav Eiffel.
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    Rua Augusta: where I had my Sardinas Assadas almost daily with boiled potatoes for supper and washed it down with vino verde. It will be in season during your June visit ... enjoy this very delicious dish. They do take their time and eat slowly here. Separating this street from the waterfront is the huge historical Parca do Comercio through a historic arch.
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    I also took the tram through Barrio Alto to see the historical castle and the church on top of the hill​
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    Gulbenkian Museum: if you have the time, this is a great place to spend few hours.
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    There are other museums that are more fitting for a city like Lisbon, such as the Maritime Museum, but I did not have the time to see them all. Although one thing bothered me about the city is that there are sections of neighborhoods and huge warehouses facing the waterfront that were completely empty, Lisbon in one word can be described as ROYAL!
     
  12. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    For escorted tours, I used one recommended by the hotel that I cannot recall the name. Tour buses were new and comfortable with plenty of Europeans, Asians, and Americans joining the tour with English speaking (heavy accent but understandable) tour guides. I did the following tours:

    Fado Bars of Alfama District: The original city of Lisbon was located in this district during the period of the Arab domination of the Iberia peninsula. We did visit several Fado bars/restaurants for quick bite/drink and listen to authentic bittersweet fado songs. A truly cultural experience that not to be missed.
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    Belem District: Where Vasco da Gama, Magellan, and others departed to make their historical discoveries around the globe. Huge monument to commemorate their discoveries is located here as does a historical waterfront Belem Tower, a military outpost to protect the city. The Presidential Palace and many museums are located in the immediate area.​
    [​IMG]
    Sintra & Cascais: Sintra is a mountain village just outside Lisbon that houses the Pena National Place, a summer residence of the Portuguese monarchs. Beautiful 18th century architecture with lots of murals, paintings, and art objects. The area also houses an 11th century Moorish castle. The views and mountain scenery here are amazing. Cascais is a coastal town and former fishing village on the way back from Sintra to Lisbon where the Estoril Casino is located. There is also a historic hotel here where they filmed parts of one of James Bond movies.​
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca) is the westernmost point of both mainland Portugal and mainland Europe. The cape is in the Portuguese municipality of Sintra, west of Lisbon district, and also forms the westernmost extent of the Serra de Sintra. The place has a huge cross commemorating sailors who died at sea.​
    [​IMG]
    On our next trip to this awesome nation, we will visit Porto, Braga, and Algarve in addition to Lisbon. Wanted to see Benfica Stadium from the football soccer glory of Portugal of the 1960s, but was told that it was demolished & replaced by modern one :(. In summation, Portugal with its history, arts, food, and people should be on every traveler's list ... great choice for a trip doc ... enjoy! :)
     
  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Awesome pics, Kalboz. Portugal is on my to-list.
     
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  14. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Kalboz - amazing. I'll bet you've even been to Bhutan!
     
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  15. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    I have yet to go to Russia to dance the Kazachok :D
     
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  16. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    I highly recommend going to Fado in Bario Alto without a tour. It starts quite late and usually you eat (dinner) and drink while the fado goes on. It's been a few years, but I still have good memories of the food and wistful, sad music with excellent dancer performing.
     
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  17. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    Just got done converting all my Lisbon photo negatives to digital at Costco. The quality is not there but the affect is just the same, I presume:
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    Belem Castle​
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    Santa Justa Lift​
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    Downtown looks like Prague​
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    Rua Augusta & its Arch​
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    Parca do Comercio & Augusta Arch​
     
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  18. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    [​IMG]
    Presidential Guardsman​
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    Statue of King John I of Portugal - note the castle overlooking the city​
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    The Cathedral above the hill - Make sure to take Tram # 28​
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    Marquez of Pombal Square next to the park with the same name​
    [​IMG]
    Tiny alleys in Alfama District​
     
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  19. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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  20. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    It's July! How was your trip? I look forward to read your promised trip report. Thanks for sharing. :)
     
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  21. Why was the power out it just sounds awful, it was not your fault sounds really awful I hope you complained.

     
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  22. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Uggboy-

    Long, long story but we ended up canceling the trip. Our golf club was in trouble, we chose to switch to another one but it is significantly more expensive and - well, something had to give! But this thread has made us even more excited about rescheduling during a time we haven't already done a 2 week trip to Thailand!
    Thanks for asking.
     
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  23. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Thanks Steven for your update, I hope you can enjoy Portugal in the near future. Safe travels.
     
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  24. cc1972

    cc1972 Silver Member

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    I'm glad I found this... I'm going to Barcelona in July and thought about going to Lisbon as a side trip, now I'm wondering if I shouldn't make it half my trip!
     
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  25. ffitalia

    ffitalia Silver Member

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    Lisbon and Porto are very nice, but just a couple of days for the city. If you want to do a full tour of Portugal and visit it for good will take at least 10-12 days, and 2-3 for sea
     
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