Photo of the Week: Sunshine

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This weekend I turned another year older, inching my way to the big 4-0.  Recently I noticed that time seems to be flying by too quickly, so moments like this have to be appreciated.  This photo was taken last year in Porto, one of my favorite cities in Europe.  We walked to the top of Miradouro da Vitória and stopped to enjoy the warm sunshine.  

Every week, I’ll share a photo with you from my adventures around the world and at home.  Most of my photos have little or no post processing.  If you would like to see more, please click the Follow button.

Trip Report: Portugal

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Portugal  is a small country nestled between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean at the westernmost point of continental Europe.  It was once a powerful seafaring kingdom that controlled many of the routes to Africa, South America, and Asia.  The home of world famous football player,  Cristiano Ronaldo, is filled with lush landscapes and striking scenery. Though not as well known as some of its neighbors, it is a country rich with culture, interesting architecture, and fairytale castles. The laid-back vibe combined with great food and cheap wine makes this a must-visit destination.   Here is the cost breakdown of our trip to Portugal to help you plan yours:

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  • Time Cost
    • Total Days In Portugal: 8 days + 1 layover day in London
    • Total Days Off From Work: 5 days
  • Monetary Cost
    • Hotel: $1100 + 8,000 Hilton Points + 7,000 SPG points
    • Flights: $815 pp +13,000 Avios
    • Transportation: $90 pp ($110 for car, $35 pp for train)
    • Admission fees: $80 pp
    • Food: $45 pp per day
    • Total Per Person: $1,800+ 4,000 Hilton Points + 3,500 SPG points + 6,500 Avios

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If you’ve been following along with our blog you’ll know that we usually try to maximize our travel days and minimize our costs.  This usually happens when we find a good flight deal with availability around the holidays.  This system has allowed us to travel more frequently to many amazing places around the world. Admittedly, this did not happen on this trip.  A series of mistakes cost us time, energy, and money in the form of unused hotel rooms and additional flights – read about our mishaps here. Even with all the disasters, our trip was very memorable for all the right reasons.

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There are a variety of things to do and see in Portugal, whatever your interests and tastes may be.  Visit the northern city of Porto and sample the famous port wine.  Zip over to Belem and indulge in the egg tarts.  Wander through picturesque castles hidden in the rolling hills of Sintra and feel like you’ve stepped into a Disney movie.  See the busy city from the rickety tram, and fall in love with the architecture of Lisbon.  Eat and drink until you are completely sated without breaking the bank.  To read more about our trip to Portugal, click on the links below:

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  • Read about all our rookie mistakes that we made on this trip
  • Alternative accommodation option with AirBnB

Porto

Lisbon

Sintra

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Check back next to read about our trip to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

AirBnB Review

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AirBnB is not new, in fact it’s been around since 2008.  We know people who have used the service and had glowing reviews; and others who did not fare as well (there are some horror stories).  In the past, we’ve always opted to stay at a Starwood hotel because our status gave us upgrades and other perks.  This year, however, that status has expired which was the perfect opportunity for us to venture out of our bubble and try something new. Continue reading

Sintra: At the Edge of the World

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In the modern age, technology and innovation has made it easy for the casual traveler to easily explore the four corners of the world.  It also means that there are very few places left undiscovered.  Even though it’s the status quo now, it was not always the case a few hundred years ago.  It’s hard for people to imagine a world other than the one they were born into.  Before the Age of Discovery, people would look out from the cliffs into the boundless ocean and believe that it was the end of the world.  The famous Portuguese  explorers changed that preconception, venturing out to Asia and Africa, leading the way for discoveries of a whole different world. 

Continue reading

Sintra: Fairytale Castles

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Growing up watching Disney movies, I’ve always dreamt of walking through a fairy tale landscape. Sintra, a small picturesque Portuguese town set amidst pine covered hills, is a fairytale come true, complete with turreted palaces.  It is an extraordinary place with a rich history, ornate palaces, and ancient ruins – all of which are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  After visiting in 1809, the famous British poet and traveler Lord Byron declared that the town is “perhaps in every respect the most delightful in Europe,” and calling it a “glorious Eden” in his epic poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Continue reading

10 things to do in Lisbon

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Europe’s westernmost capital has blossomed in recent years, attracting visitors to its world class restaurants as well as its culture and history. Despite the old-world feel with its network of antiquated trams, Lisbon definitely has a modern edge. 

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Portugal’s hilly capital, is a coastal city known for many things – from the blue-and-white azulejo architecture, to the spectacular views that can be seen from anywhere on top of the seven hills to the imposing São Jorge Castle. The rambling alleyway are lined with pastel colored houses covered in pretty flower boxes.  The sweet citrus smells drift over the walls, hiding a fruit-laden lemon tree in the courtyard.  Even though the streets are confusing, it’s definitely walk-able, just make sure you bring your running shoes along.  Here are a few places to explore in Lisbon’s labyrinthine streets: Continue reading

Eating in Lisbon

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To me, eating is the best way to appreciate and explore a new country and culture.  It is always the favorite part of my trips – and the most memorable.  A good dish is something that I will remember for the rest of my life when memories of the city long fade into the cobwebs of my mind.  Portugal has fast become my favorite European country for food.  As you know, I had a really positive experience eating in Porto and couldn’t wait to try the cuisine in Lisbon.  Continue reading

Exploring the Miradouros of Lisbon

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The Portuguese often refer to Lisbon as the cidade das sete colinas, or “city of the seven hills.” This is not an exaggeration as we found out on our first day.  Climbing all of the stairs in Lisbon was a challenge, but the outstanding views from the top make the trips worthwhile. Each miradouro offers different perspectives of the city, with panoramic views of popular landmarks from the castle down to the river. Continue reading

Exploring the Miradouros of Porto

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Porto – with its well worn buildings, colorful facades, and red rooftops that dot the hillside along the river Douro; is extremely photogenic whether you’re wandering through the streets or taking in the views from above.  There are many lookouts with different vantage points over Porto. These places are called miradouros in Portuguese and are usually high points with clear sights of popular landmarks amongst the sea of rooftops. These hilltop terraces are popular with locals and visitors for their panoramic views.  Here are a few of our favorite places for the perfect sweeping vista of the city: Continue reading

6 Things to Do in Porto

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Porto was love at first sight for me, and even spring showers did not make the city any less beautiful.  Everything from the lively riverfront, to the quirky street art, to the colorful azulejos made me smile.  I loved wandering down old alleyways and looking up at charming apartments that were just a little rundown.  I loved relaxing on the bench at Jardim do Palácio de Cristal, taking in the sunshine and the view.  I loved sitting in the rickety tram, watching seagulls soar over the Atlantic and breathing in the bracing ocean air. There are many things to do in Porto, most of which are free: Continue reading