Our Portugal Adventure: Day 4

Our last day in Sintra had arrived –Day 1 , Day 2 & Day 3 had been marvelous  and the weather was terrible! Pouring down rain, we hurried to pack, knowing we had to catch a 9:40 train, but obviously wanting to have un Americano and a sweet at Gregorio’s first. But blast, Gregorio’s was closed on Mondays!!! So, we slugged our soaking wet selves and luggage to the train – to catch an earlier 9:16 to Oriente, where we’d change trains to get on the metro to head to the Lisbon Airport to pick up our rental car. It sounds like a lot of hoop-la and possible confusion, but it was extremely simple and I’d recommend to anyone traveling only a few days in Portugal to rely on the public transit – it’s really convenient and straight forward.

The only down side of all of this was the weather….but once we got on the train, we were able to dry off. A quick pop in to a cafe at the metro station allowed for a coffee and pastry – yum – and we were off to the rental car counter.

Our Fiat was ready, so we hopped in and almost 3 hours of Portugal countryside later, we found ourselves in the sleepy town of Odeceixe. I choose this area because the Rota Vicentina, a beautiful set of hiking trails connecting at different areas throughout southern Portugal. The section we’d hike was mostly along the coast – one of the most beautiful sections I had read about.

We pulled into town, parked, had lunch at one of the first restaurants we saw (big mistake) and ordered some vino, beers, and lunch.

Well, the beers never came, but a bottle of champagne did (huh?) so we drank and ate the whole fish that came out and hoped the town had more selection.

From what we could tell, with the narrow streets, and lack of people, it was a sleepy shore town, in the off season. Again, more our speed, just want of better restaurants! Our bellies were full, so we headed up the hill to our Airbnb- not knowing where to park our car on these narrow streets warranted an on-foot surveillance. The owners met us, an older couple who spoke zero English, and checked us in, showing me how to use the insta hot water, and were the two bedrooms were. One smelled a bit like my grandmother, so we opted to put our things in the other. We would call Odeceixe home for only two nights, mainly using the small town as a jumping off point for the coastal hiking.

Having had many a night out and about, we decided to head to the local grocery shop to pick up dinner – angel hair, bread, garlic & zucchini and two bottles of wine. I mean, when in Portugal!

The night was perfect – and walking into town to the grocery store showed us there was in fact more restaurants to try.

Our balcony view overlooked the whole town, so we headed back to relax, unpack and cook our first Odeceixe dinner in. Tomorrow, we’d hit the trail!

 

 

 

Our Portugal Adventure: Day 3

Morning came fast and bright and all that magical wine from last night wasn’t feeling so magical. But, there was zero time for hangovers in Portugal, especially when we were planning on getting to the Quinta da Regaleira before the mobs of people Showed up. But first, coffee and pastries at Georgios – how are Europeans not 400 pounds?! These sweets and breads and cakes would do me in for sure….although I think the key here is to walk everywhere. Sunday morning was sleepier around town as well – we walked in around 9:15 am and only a few older people were there.

Feeling slightly revived, we headed through town, up the hill and into Quinta da Regaleira. By far one of the most eclectic, mysterious, intriguing places I’ve ever been, this palace had extensive gardens with hidden nooks and crannies at every turn.

Paths that would lead you underground, swirling spiral staircases that plunged you deeper into the earth, tunnels that lead to lagoons and grottos, and a series of paths that would pop you out several hundred feet away from where you had been. A mysterious playground of mystical twists and turns.

There were several sections where claustrophobia almost set in….tight caves with narrow walls and lots of people. Luckily, the line to cross the lagoon on mere stepping stones moved fast and we popped out soon enough.

Traveling during the off season is how we usually plan international vacations (having been to Ireland, Amalfi Coast, Costa Rica, Vieques in October or November). I could not imagine the lines in the high season of summer. Regardless, this place can not be described accurately enough to give it justice!

The grounds were extensive and we spent almost three hours poking our heads into every nook, every tunnel, every grotto. It was truly a special place.

After a spectacular few hours, we had seen and explored it all, so decided to walk to Monserrate, another palace with extensive gardens and beautiful interior. Little did we know, it was almost two miles away – not uber far, but we had already walked almost 8 miles that day alone. Well, that’s how we do it, so here we went. Luckily, there’s not a ton of traffic and the weather held (looked as if it was going to down pour there for a minute!). We made it and after paying the 8 Euro per piece, we’re glad we came.

 

Created by Sir Francis Cook, the gorgeous palace consisted of two stories, ornate entryways and arches, a glowing purple ceiling, and beautiful fireplaces. The palace was magnificent, full of architecture wonder.

Looking down from the second floor, you can see the intricate tile and fountain in the entryway – while looking up gives you the glowing purple view.

 

As as gorgeous as the palace and grounds were, we knew we’d have a two mile walk back to town and we’re getting quite hungry. Contemplating the bus, where the ideal states would be to rest and zone out while we got chauffeured back to town…..but that wouldn’t be our style. So, we walked the two plus miles back into town to have a well deserved, albeit expensive, lunch. It was in the heart of town, so we paid for the views and ambiance. Ok by us!

 

The he way home brought us past a street artist, so we stopped to chat and buy a piece of art (the only souvenir I like to bring home with me) and we even got to see him finish and sign our custome piece. For only 10 Euro, this was a steal!

 

We put our feet up for a bit, the found a vegan restaurant, the only one in Sintra, and had a lovely plant based meal. Our time in Sintra had been well spent – we would be off to Odeceixe in the morning.

Travel Happy: Packing for Portugal

Portugal is calling! We head to the oldest country in Europe, this Thursday October 11th for a ten day trip. I’m much more of a planner than Mike, so I took the weekend to organize our Itinerary and pack. Here again, Mike and I have two very different philosophies: Mike will wait till the night beforehand to pack a bag he wants to check…and I will spend a few hours, several days before I leave, to pack meticulously, in a bag I can carry on the plane, so the airline doesn’t loose my luggage.

When we decided to take this trip, we settled on October due to the off-season weather (it will be mid-seventies) and the minimal crowds (Europe in the summer is hot and crowded!). When deciding what I actually need on this trip, I took into account our activities, the forecast, and wanting to pack as light as possible. The coastal hiking in Portugal looks amazing, so hiking is high on our list of things we’ll be doing, along with kayaking and SUPing. The amount of historical sites, the castles, monetarists, wineries, and old villages are endless, overwhelming even! With the amount of walking we’ll be doing just sightseeing (we’re not renting a car for the first few days) on the gorgeous cobblestone streets, I feel comfortable flats and layers will be the perfect combo. So, I thought I’d write about how I’m tackling the packing for the wonderful adventure we’re about to embark on.

Packing fora trip to Portugal in the Fall (10 days total)

Tip: Pick a color theme, two or three staple colors you’ll coordinate all outfits around. Mine: Navy Blue, Grey & White/Tan

  1.  Yoga Pants (3 pairs) – I have pretty colorful yoga pants so I’m planning to dress them up a bit on the days I need to wear them to tour around. Portugal people are stylish, so walking around looking like a sloppy American tourist will not do!
  2. Linen pants (1 pair) – I am not a jeans girl, but understand I need a nicer pair of leg warmers as the fall in Portugal is a bit cooler at night (we’ll be on the coast a lot and plan to do water activities: kayak, SUP, charter a boat). These linen pants will be perfect boat attire.
  3.  Hiking/Active tops (2 tank tops -Wika/flexible/breathable & 1 long sleeve base layer) – these are clutch for an active day. We plan to hike part of the Fishermen’s Trail near the southern coast of Portugal (in the Algarve area of Portugal) and be outside as much as possible, so these will most likely be worn multiple times. Because we’ll be close to the ocean (and the weather looks a bit gloomy on some days) I thought the long sleeve would come in handy for layering. I can also wear this over or under the dresses I brought for a dress up look.
  4. Dresses (4) – I am a dress wear-er for sure. And while you’re traveling, these are so easy and versatile to throw on and pack! All the dresses I’m bringing can be dressed up or down depending on what I layer with.
  5. Casual-dressy tops (1) – This will be worn on days when we’re touring and need to look dressier, but not formal. The white, flowy top can be worn with yoga pants or my linen pants for a dressier pants look.
  6. Sweaters/Long sleeves (3) – Knowing the weather, I wanted to pack lighter sweaters to layer on top of dresses especially. I have a navy blue and white stripe shirt, a grey & navy blue sweater.
  7. Jackets (4) – This is tricky, because I didn’t necessarily want to bring four, seems down right gluttonous! But, it may rain a bit while there – so there’s a rain jacket. It’s a dressier atmosphere and may be chilly at night – navy blue sports jacket.  A hooded puffy – for hiking so will have this in my camel back bag and leave it in there. My jean jacket – a staple and I will wear this on the plane.
  8. Shoes (4) – Here again, 4 pairs of shoes seems insane to me -for a ten day trip!? Well, we want to hike the coast – need hiking shoes – it may rain a bit, which won’t stop us from going out – so ya need boots – Some days may be sunny and nice – so flip flops -and the night time on cobblestone streets call for flats. And there ya go.
  9. Scarfs (3) – I’v traveled quite a bit in my day – Africa, Turkey, Belgium, Vieques, Amsterdam, Ireland, Italy, Belize – and the European style of dress always impresses me. And one of the best accessories and items to pack are scarfs. I am bringing a black, a navy blue and a grey scarf to add to my outfits, layer when it’s cooler, and dress up my yoga pants.

I’m so looking forward to exploring this beautiful country – and maybe even look a bit stylish while adventuring.

Cheers to our Happy Adventure!