Posted by
Message
Bear-O-Dactyl
Arkansas State Fan
tRock
Member since Oct 2012
1160 posts

Portugal Trip Review
Wife and I took a trip to Portugal in early July. Figured I would post a trip review.

I will preface this review by saying that Portugal is very cheap compared to the rest of Western Europe, but it still has a ton of stuff to see. It helps that there was a ~300 year period where they were the richest country in the universe. I'll list some pricing information just to give an idea of how things are looking, budget-wise.

Location Overview
Azores - Sao Miguel
Porto
Aveiro
Coimbra
Tomar
Sintra
Lisbon

I'll be going into each of these locations in separate posts down below.


Bear-O-Dactyl
Arkansas State Fan
tRock
Member since Oct 2012
1160 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
The Azores - Sao Miguel Island

Duration: 2 day, 2 night
Hotel: Azor Hotel

After 18 hours of traveling, we arrived in the Azores. Our guide from Amazing Tours picked us up at the Airport and drove us to our hotel to store our bags before we immediately jumped into our tour of the west side of the island. Adderall/Vyvanse recommended if you are going this route.

The main sights on the west side of Sao Miguel are the areas surrounding Sete Cidades and Lagoa do Fogo. The Azores in general are a very unspoiled area with beautiful views. Mountains, calderas, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, etc. It is also underdeveloped compared to Western Europe and the United States. My wife and I compared it to a cross between Panama and the Big Island of Hawaii (with fewer beaches).







After our tour, we cleaned up and headed into the city center for a 7:00 dinner at Boca de Cena. It's a one man show, where the owner acts as the chef, waiter, busboy, and hostess. We were lucky we got in right when things opened, because things started to get hectic around 8:00-8:30 when the normal dinner crowds started rolling in. The food was excellent, however, and I would highly recommend it.







Our second day was scheduled to show us the eastern side of the island and we set out bright and early. The major attractions today were centered around the town of Furnas. The locals there bury their food, using the heat from the underground volcanic activity to slow cook their meats and vegetables into a dish called Cozido. It's delicious. You are able to watch them dig up your lunch and then can follow them into town to their restaurant. After a large lunch, we visited the natural hot springs, which consisted of a large area with 5 or 6 public pools ranging in temperature from "kinda warm" to "pretty damn hot". Food in Portugal is cheap and the portion sizes rival America, so there were a lot of fatties at the pool. Our dinner that night was not memorable. I could find the name of the place, but it isn't worth the effort.

Budget Estimates:
2 days of private tours + aiport transfers - ~$275
Hotel - $175/nt

Misc.
The food and wine are very cheap and delicious. My wife thought she was ordering a nice glass of wine for $10 and received an entire bottle.

The Azor Hotel is advertised (and billed as, by Portuguese standards) as a 5 star hotel. It isn't. Service is pretty shitty and they are beach towel Nazis. Rooms were fine, though, and it was centrally located.
This post was edited on 8/23 at 12:11 pm


Bear-O-Dactyl
Arkansas State Fan
tRock
Member since Oct 2012
1160 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
Porto

Duration: 2 day, 2 night
Hotel: Palacio das Cardosas

After a two hour flight from Ponta Delgada, we arrived in Porto. We decided to see the city ourselves, so we grabbed an Uber to the hotel so we could drop off our bags and head to the riverfront for a quick lunch.

We had lunch at a restaurant called Bacchus Vini, which is located directly under the Ponte de Dom Luis Bridge. It is more of a wine and tapas place. We grabbed a flight of 5 wines and a charcuterie board and enjoyed the perfect weather. Small thing to note, Jamon Iberico ham, which is $75+ per pound in Arkansas, is available here and it is not expensive.







After lunch, we checked out the Se Cathedral and Clerigos Tower. Se Cathedral is a cool old church, but it's pretty similar to most churches you'll see in Europe. Climbing the Clerigos Tower would have been very neat if it were not for the crowds. You are smushed in like sardines once you get to the top, but the views are nice. Stairway is very narrow. Reminded me a lot of my trip to Bruges and this scene for In Bruges:

Belfry of Bruges

After climbing the tower, we started working our way back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We planned to stop by Livraria Lello, which is a bookstore that supposedly inspired the Harry Potter series. Damned if I was going to pay $5 to go into a bookstore, though. Skipped it.

Dinner that night was at a place on the river called A Bolina. I'm not good at describing food, but long story short it started raining on the walk there, our umbrella broke, and I got us lost. Almost got divorced by the time we got wine. Marriage survived and dinner was pretty good, but the service was a bit slow, which is a pretty common theme from my past trips to Europe.







Day two began with a trip across the river to Graham's Port Lodge for an 11:00 AM tour and tasting. I paid a little extra for the premium tasting and got to try some 40+ year vintage port. Delicious. They got us sufficiently drunk during the tour and guided us into the gift shop, where I spent more money than I should have. Lunch was on premises at a restaurant called VINUM. I drank even more port and was quite lubricated by the time we left.

We had planned to see the Igreja de Sao Francisco and Palacio de Bolsa after lunch, but I was drunk and audibled to nap time. After sobering up, we headed back down to the river for a bit before going to dinner at Ode Porto Wine House. Probably the best lunch + dinner combo we had during the entire trip.

Budget Estimates:
Hotel - $250/nt

Misc.
Porto is pretty hilly. Be prepared for that.

Adding a wine pairing to your meal is a good way to ensure the drinks keep flowing if you are worried about slower service.

Palacio das Cardosas was an excellent hotel. The picture above of the statue in the large square was the view from our room.
This post was edited on 8/23 at 12:36 pm


Bear-O-Dactyl
Arkansas State Fan
tRock
Member since Oct 2012
1160 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
Averio and Coimbra

Duration: Day Trip
Transportation: Blacklane

We woke up the next morning and began our trip to Tomar, with stops in Aveiro and Coimbra for some sightseeing. Aveiro was a last minute addition after we removed Braga from our itinerary due to distance and seeing a strikingly similar church in the Azores. Aveiro is called the "Venice of Portugal" and it is very disappointing. The canal area is very, very small and is just as full of obnoxious gondoliers as Venice. Their houses are painted like candy canes, though.



Coimbra, on the other hand, was pretty cool. Coimbra is home to one of the oldest universities still operating on the planet, founded in 1290. Our driver recommended lunch at a place called Restaurante A Cozina da Maria. It was a low key spot and it did not disappoint. Very local experience.

We did a tour of the University and Biblioteca Joanina, which are the main attractions of the city. A lot of the University was off limits due to a wedding that was being preformed while we were in town. We were unfortunately unable to get pictures inside the library since the did not allow photography, but it was worth seeing. There is a large square outside the entrances to the University and library, but I don't have any pictures without my wife in them and since I have been on this site for years, I am 100% sure that y'all are all dirty perverts.







Budget Estimates:
Private driver (9 hours) - $600

Misc.
I highly recommend getting a driver. The company we used, Blacklane, was great. Very knowledgeable drivers and in very nice (Mercedes, BMW), newer vehicles.
This post was edited on 8/23 at 1:44 pm


Bear-O-Dactyl
Arkansas State Fan
tRock
Member since Oct 2012
1160 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
Tomar

Duration: 1 night
Hotel: Hotel dos Templarios

We arrived in Tomar in the mid-afternoon. The main bridge into town, however, was closed due to a medieval festival right outside of our hotel. Yes, please. I immediately went to change clothes and dragged my reluctant wife down to the festival to shop for chain mail. We found $1 sangria, so she was happy. After spending some time at the festival, we headed to the city center to grab dinner at Taverna Antiqua, a medieval themed restaurant, which was just a happy coincidence. We were seated next to about two dozen drunken Portuguese men dressed in full chain mail and Templar garb. The venison and company was great. We headed back to the festival after dinner and I blacked out.



Our driver was scheduled to pick us up at noon the next day, so we went in to town and got a tour of the area via tuk tuk. It was pretty neat. The coolest thing we got to see were the old aqueducts. It has a maintenance path, so we were able to climb to the top and walk across.

If I could go back in time, I would tell past me to skip Aveiro and spend more time in Tomar and give the Templar castle more than just a cursory glance.





Budget Estimates:
Hotel - $90/nt
Tuk Tuk tour - $33

Misc.
Tuk tuk tour is cool, but we weren't able to go inside the Templar castle, which I would have really liked to do.

Medieval festivals are awesome.
This post was edited on 8/23 at 1:56 pm


Bear-O-Dactyl
Arkansas State Fan
tRock
Member since Oct 2012
1160 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
Sintra

Duration: 1 night
Hotel: Tivoli Palace

Our Blacklane driver picked us up in Tomar to take us to Sintra, which is not far outside of Lisbon. The trip went very smoothly (I napped) until we begin heading up the hill to our hotel. Apparently the two lane roads in Sintra are wide enough for about 1.5 cars. So with a throng of tourists walking up the hill and bumper to bumper traffic, it took about a half hour to get a quarter mile.



We stayed at a hotel called the Tivoli Palace (above) and it was absolutely ridiculous. We dropped off our bags and reluctantly left the hotel to see the Qunita da Regaleira, a historic estate and garden complex full of caves and giant wells. It was big enough to get lost in. I know that from experience. Once traffic died down, we headed into town to grab dinner at a place called Incomum. Very good food and wine. Would recommend.



Image: https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-hsmwQLtS9lg/WYSaynxPrQI/AAAAAAAABfk/Mx1Dv7IMrX4TQjbIphZ1LVDHn6RYzmbSQCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_5567.JPG


The next morning, we were picked up by Sintra Magik for a custom private tour of Sintra and parts of Lisbon. We began by seeing the Pena Palace, which was built by a monarch as his summer home. It even had a castle for ducks.







After Pena Palace, we walked down the hill to the Castle of the Moors, which was constructed in the 8th century when most of the Iberian people were conquered by the Moorish peoples of North Africa. It was a helluva hike.



Image: https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TP5Cyao5Xvc/WYSa5xvy4WI/AAAAAAAABgU/6JLKEAKDuwQAnVjbFKUWzvrHrAVtdy25QCLcBGAs/s400/IMG_5629.JPG


To finish our tour of Sintra, we stopped at Monserrate Palace and its gardens. Monserrate Palace is difficult to describe. It's absolutely gorgeous and is the kind of place I would want to live in if I won the Powerball. Unfortunately it sat unoccupied for an extended period during a battle over ownership and was destroyed by squatters. The government now has ownership and has sunk a ton of money into restoration. It will be even nicer when they finish.

Budget Estimates:
Hotel - $375/nt
Private tour - $350

Misc.
Sintra is an absolute MUST SEE, but traffic is absolutely nightmarish.

We structured our private tour to pick us up in Sintra and drop us at our hotel in Lisbon to negate our need for transportation.
This post was edited on 8/23 at 2:18 pm


Bear-O-Dactyl
Arkansas State Fan
tRock
Member since Oct 2012
1160 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
Lisbon

Duration: 2 nights
Hotel: Hotel Avenida Palace

Our driver concluded our tour of Sintra in the early afternoon and we began the short trek to Lisbon. We planned to see the Belem Tower, Jeronimos Monastery, and Padrao dos Descobrimentos before being dropped off at our hotel. All monuments are closed on Mondays, though, so we were only able to see everything from the outside.

We decided against having a big dinner and just explored the Baixa district and grabbed a quick pizza. Our hotel was located right outside of Baixa, which was completely rebuilt when a massive earthquake leveled Lisbon and the surrounding areas in 1755.

Also, drugs are apparently decriminalized in Portugal, so there were a ton of people in Lisbon trying to sell to us.



Image: https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-kTta6JI3Q1A/WYStga3pkoI/AAAAAAAABg4/ailDjrrqPZg9gPHkQ2emotT0iwDc39HcQCLcBGAs/s400/IMG_5682.JPG






Our final day in Lisbon was pretty laid back. We rode the Elevador de Santa Justa up to the Barrio Alto district to visit the Museo Arqueologico do Carmo, which is built inside the ruins of an old convent that was destroyed during the earthquake. No pictures were allowed, but there were a ton of old tombs and mummies.







Sticking to the theme of the trip, I got us lost again and we walked up about 30,000 flights of stairs until we realized weren't walking towards our hotel. We stopped at a hole in the wall local restaurant called El Rei D'frango for a late lunch and it was yummy. After lunch, the wife spent the rest of the day spending all of my money and I napped before dinner at a new restaurant called IIIMPAR. Good steaks. We decided not to go out on the town since we had a flight early in the morning, thus ending our Portugal adventure.

Budget Estimates:
Hotel - $200/nt

Misc.
Lisbon is very, very hilly.

The airport is a nightmare. They recommended we arrive 3 hours early and we needed every minute. I believe the wife had to show her passport 8+ times in the airport between security lines and duty free stamps/reimbursements.

Overall, I wish I would have spent a bit more time in Lisbon, Sintra, and Tomar to be able to see things a bit more in depth.
This post was edited on 12/6 at 10:11 am


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
10
GEAUXLPOST
LSU Fan
Thibodaux
Member since Sep 2012
753 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
Beautiful shots Bear, what equipment are you using? I just invested in some new equipment, now I just have to use it!


Bear-O-Dactyl
Arkansas State Fan
tRock
Member since Oct 2012
1160 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
quote:

Beautiful shots Bear, what equipment are you using? I just invested in some new equipment, now I just have to use it!


We only had access to our iPhones. My wife is a photographer, so she wanted to bring her gear, but we were traveling light and would be unable to fit it in our luggage.


Palmetto08
Member since Sep 2012
3073 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
Awesome report! Thank you for sharing.

Did you guys feel safe walking around Lisbon and the smaller towns at night?


Zappas Stache
Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Member since Apr 2009
26587 posts
 Online 

re: Portugal Trip Review
Nice trip! I was in Lisbon and Porto in late June. I had a few beers at a craft beer place directly across the street from this building. Enjoyed watching all the tourist stop to take a pic.



Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
Bear-O-Dactyl
Arkansas State Fan
tRock
Member since Oct 2012
1160 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
quote:

Did you guys feel safe walking around Lisbon and the smaller towns at night?


Never felt unsafe for even a second. We didn't really stray far outside of the city centers, though, so I can't speak for everywhere.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
HoustonGumbeauxGuy
LSU Fan
Member since Jul 2011
17850 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review




DoUrden
Tennessee Fan
UnderDark
Member since Oct 2011
22946 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
I am so glad the mods gave in and allowed your sticky, there is some great stuff people are posting, like this!


HoustonGumbeauxGuy
LSU Fan
Member since Jul 2011
17850 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
shite ya!




Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
Jake88
George Mason Fan
LSU/Saints Fan
Member since Apr 2005
39934 posts
 Online 

re: Portugal Trip Review
Who organized this trip?


Bear-O-Dactyl
Arkansas State Fan
tRock
Member since Oct 2012
1160 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review
quote:

Who organized this trip?


I put it together as an anniversary trip for the wife.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
RunningBlake
Arkansas Fan
Searcy
Member since Aug 2011
3939 posts

re: Portugal Trip Review


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
first pageprev pagePage 1 of 1next pagelast page
refresh

Back to top

logoFollow TigerDroppings for LSU Football News
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get the latest updates on LSU Football and Recruiting.

FacebookTwitterInstagram