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August 2021 Portugal trip

I know there are a number of vicarious travelers on the forum, and I have been meaning to post this for a while. Here are my notes I shared with a fellow traveler that wanted our itinerary. If you want pictures and more stories, I have the link in my profile to my fledging blog.

Day 1: Belcanto tasting menu- This took 2 1/2 plus hours, but is something I will never forget. We did a sunset sail on the Tagus river that night. About 2- 2 1/2 hours on the River, us the skipper and a friend helping with the boat. We had a bottle of wine and snacks. Super lovely host and time. Felt all the tension coming out of my shoulders as we unwound.

Day 2: Food tasting tour in Lisbon with Oh my Cod tours. This is another multi hour affair. WORTH IT! Lovely guide teaches you history of 3 of the neighborhoods and takes you to local restaurants. Oh my Cod has several different tours available depending upon your schedule and interests. Delightful host and nice time.

Day 3: Belem touring. We started out by going all the way to end of the tour to Belem tower and worked our way back. We hopped an Uber (cheap and easy here) and had them drop us off at the tower. There is a little not fancy café where we had breakfast close by. We then worked our way back, stopping at the Monument to the discoveries, Maritime museum, then Belem Monastery. For us, the museum as interesting to learn about Portugal history, and we literally had the whole thing to ourselves. See if you can figure out how to get your monastery tickets ahead of time. Couldn’t buy tickets online at that time. There were lines here, even for the free tickets. We skipped it this day as the lines worried us a bit as some folks weren’t great here about social distancing (lots of tourists). Pay the 10 euros or whatever and buy ahead of time to skip the lines if you can. I know Rick says it is free but when we got up there the “helpful” person at the ticket machine told us it’s not free (even though we could see the option for the free tickets right on the screen). It was a boondoggle, but had we got the tickets ahead of time this would have been great and we could have save a half hour or so (which matters when it is really hot out).
Late afternoon went tinned fish shopping. Had a delightful conversation with a local business owner in Lisbon that owns a tin fish shop. Bought stuff to bring home. This was a neat fun experience.

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Day 4: Lots of random stuff we couldn’t finish other days. Went back to the Monastery and toured that. Church was closed because it was Sunday.

We went up to the Aquaduct as well. It was closed as it was a holiday- but it was cool to see even from the outside.

Went back and walked around Praco do Comerico square. Hit another tinned fish shop on the way back. Was WAY too touristy and is attached to the tin fish restaurant. Liked the first shop better.

We had a sunset sail with a chef. He makes appetizers and charcuterie while you sail the Tagus river. Truly a cool experience. I hung out at the back of the boat with the chef speaking broken English explaining things. It was wonderful. Gave me a chance to learn a lot. He’s actually a pretty well known chef, just likes to take his boat out at night. This was another oh my cod tour. 9 of us on the tour, but easy to spread out on the boat.

Day 5: Day trip to Cascais via Cais do Sodre train station. Goes right there and worked well. Museum was closed on Monday. It’s a beach town and definitely touristy. We had lunch at another Jose Avillez restaurant for lunch, and it was awesome. Have a nice price fixe menu for their lunch that I would highly recommend. Cut this day a bit short as we were getting tired.

Day 6: Day trip to Sintra. We should have started out earlier this day. Seriously bring snacks and water for this day to alleviate ending up hungry at odd times. While the train ride is 40 minutes, getting to the palaces is a whole nother thing (too long to walk, either need to take a Tuk Tuk or get a bus pass). We took the 434 bus (take a right outside the train station as that has the first stop). Buses run often but they wait till they are very full to go. There is a Moorish castle, Pena palace, Quinta da Regaleira, etc. We did Pena palace and the grounds. The grounds were really lovely. Very few people on the grounds and the grounds are just gorgeous. The palace was fun but honestly just another palace. We’ve seen more interesting ones. You can get through on the self guided tour reasonably quickly. Contrary to what they say on the website, the only food is at the palace. We tried the other “open” restaurant at the stables. It didn’t exist. shoulder shrug

If you are into Palaces, we heard that Quinta da Regaleira is actually really nice, but we didn’t go as we ran short on time. Could have used more time up in this area. Guess we will have to take a trip another time!

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Day 7: Took an Uber to the train station, and the train into Porto. Prebooked first class tickets as they had a big discount when I booked. Leather seats, wifi, bathrooms, it was very nice. And they spread you out to distance you. I loved this, as we got to see the countryside and all the crops they grow. Train station has a little grocery/convenience store so we got snacks for the ride.
Did a Tuk Tuk ride in Porto- two hour ride that went all over the city, including places only the locals know. Was really a cool experience. Saw the Train station with all the blue tiles- was amazing! Saw the famous McDonalds with the amazing interior. We did the sunset tour and watch the sun dropping over the river, which was really cool. Porto weather is much cooler than anywhere else- cold at times. This was very fun and great way to see the city.

Day 8: Portugal EV tours to the Duoro valley. AMAZING! We did a tour of wine country in a Tesla model X. Lovely guide and amazing tour. Went to an olive oil museum and saw how they used to make it, and had local honey, wine and olive oil. Did an hour tour on the Duoro river with some wine. Went to a winery where we had their picnic lunch option in the winery. We sat amongst quince trees, olive trees and the vines and had a delightful lunch with more wine. ;o) Did a tour and tasting here. Toured another larger estate as well which was lovely. This is another drive you simply should not do yourself. It was really nice to enjoy having a local drive us and talk about all the history, as well as have inside scoop. This was a very long day though (around 10 hours).

Day 9 (today): food tour in Porto. Wow wow wow! Then we did a Harry Potter tour that evening to wrap things up. Mourned that the trip was coming to an end.

If anyone wants links to any of the tours we did, let me know. Always happy to share details.

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Sure thing! Here you go!

Lisbon

Porto

Blog: https://www.geekswander.com

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1941 posts

Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Thank you for the writeup full of ideas to get me dreaming!

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We loved our two plus weeks in Portugal. Your links will make a return trip even better, thanks!

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EV tours—- Son Ian &I also toured the Douro Valley on a private tour. Worth every euro. Sergio in his Tesla X proved a terrific, amiable guide. 1st class all the way. We even harvested grapes high above the Douro at Quinta Do Val Moreira before a private winery tour and tasting. Many other experiences help encourage travelers to take this tour and even for RSteves to consider listing Sergio & EV tours on his recommendation site. (EV= electric vehicles). Our Portugal budget— you’re only old once. ab

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An addition to my reply: we toured with Portugal EV Tours on 5 Sept 2021. Do not fear travel to Portugal. VACCINATE and use common sense with distancing and masking. ab

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Calanbush- agree 100% - what a great tour. No idea how they decide to add new guides for a country, but Sergio would be a great one to add for Porto!