Wow! What can I say. Portugal was amazing. The people were warm and friendly, the food yummy and so much to see!
I'm going to do individual reviews for the places we visited, so this is more of an overview.
We were 3 adults and 2 boys, aged 8 ( one with special needs)
First I must say that most people we encountered spoke at least some English. Many people spoke to us in English and understood our requests. We tried to use our (limited) Portuguese always, and never had any issues. It was lovely being immersed in another culture and language.
Next, don't be like me and rely on free wifi when out and about. I found it very frustrating not having access to all aspects of google maps and things like bus routes etc. Next time I will be getting a local sim.
We stayed in the Alfama neighbourhood and I fell in love. Our apartment was near the Fado museum, one block back from cruise port, so very near a decent bus stop and on level ground.
I would wake early and go exploring most mornings, I found it easy to navigate and never got lost.All those little streets, alleys, stairs, TILES, wall plaques. Ahhh. Made me very happy.
We also were able to hear Fado from our bedroom! I fell asleep one night listening to some lady singing from her soul. We also experienced fado for free, after buying a drink at a cafe one night.
Lisbon was very easy to navigate and we mostly used buses, which could be pretty packed at times, but no real issues.
Lisbon is very hilly, lots of stairs and cobblestones! Was tricky with a stroller at times, we left it at apartment a few times due to this.
We got a bus to Belem. Those Pastel de Belem's were delicious and def the best Portuguese tarts we tried. (We tried a few! lol) No wonder they're so popular. TIP...don't line up but go inside and walk through to the back where you can sit and have table service. We ate other food and had coffee, all of it delicious.
Ginja! Oh boy. We had a taste for 1 euro from a little old lady in the street, and then went and bought a bottle! It's a cherry liquour and best in a small glass with an ice cube. Yum!
We picked up our hire car on our last morning and drove to Sintra. Nice drive and managed to get a paid park. We walked to our accommodation and then to Quinta and drove to Pena palace next morning. Keep in mind, they have recently changed many of the streets in the main area to one way. The GPS's were not up to date and this made navigating very difficult at times! We arrived at Pena palace by 9.30am and got a park, but I think it you arrived much later you would have trouble. It's also a one way road...so if you see a park...grab it!
On to Evora, where we stopped for lunch. My only regret is we didn't have more time here. It was a lovely, quaint little town and overnight would have been terrific...next time.
We drove over into Seville and then back in into Albufeira. We stayed at a resort with pools etc which my son loved. The weather had turned so it was a bit cool and rainy at times.
I went into Old Town and did some exploring off the beaten track, again so much too see. The bougainvilleas all through Portugal were stunning.
Overall we loved Portugal. Initially we found the food to be quite salty, but soon adjusted. They sure do love their pork! We ate good food and always felt welcomed. I had read about pickpockets so was very paranoid, but I never had any issues nor did I ever feel unsafe, even when wandering around alone.
The architecture and tiles and detail they put into their building was often breath taking for me. Such care and colour! Visual eye candy at every turn!
I will definitely be returning and will head North next time.
Obrigado Portugal! Until next time xx