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Portugal March 2012

Portugal was never at the top of my list, until my friend moved to Monte Estoril. I had the opportunity to visit Lisbon, Sintra, Coinmbraga, Tomar, Guimaraes, Porto, and the seaside areas outside of Lisbon. I honestly had no interest in the Algarve, though I realize that is a popular destination. As far as major museums art collections, Lisbon may not be on par with NY, Lon
don, and Paris, but the history of Portugal is amazing and there is a lot to see.

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Portugal had not been on my list of places to visit, but after reading your description, maybe we should reconsider. We are going to be in Europe for several months, so thanks to your review, Portugal is now on the list!

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I went to Portugal almost two years ago and had a great time. I spent several days in Lisbon and the surrounding area. I loved wandering the winding narrow streets of the Alfama district. Sintra is beautiful with its palaces and mansions on the wooded hills. This little country is full of architectural treasures. The Alcobaça cathedral is simple and elegant in its white stone interior. The Batahla monastery has the tombs of kings and queens, and also of the unknown soldier. The Convent of Christ on it hilltop in Tomar is huge and the buildings span centuries. The castle in Guimaraes looks like something out of a fairy tale. I stayed in a manor house converted into a hotel that is supposed to be haunted south of Viseu. The Catholic Church is a big part of life in Portugal. I'm not a particularly religious person, but the candlelight procession in Fatima was beautiful and moving. The retreat at Bom Jesus with its long staircase for pilgrims was amazing, but I found its smaller cousin at Our Lady of Remedies in Lamego reaching down to the town square below more inviting. The food was good, simple and cheap. The biggest bargain of the trip: lunch of spicy red fish soup, corn soda bread, green salad and a glass of wine in Nazarré for €5.15. I think Portugal suffers from poor marketing for tourist dollars. Its sights were interesting, attractions were generally not too crowded, food and wine good and usually reasonable. People were reserved but very helpful. I would love to go back and see more.