Portugal is a country of explorers.  Their history is so intertwined with ours. Where would the United States be without Christopher Columbus or Balboa or Magellan?  King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella sent these brave men off in wooden ships to find and explore the New World.  And though they thought they were going to China, they found America instead.

This large marble statue beside the sea in Lisbon (Lisboa) is a wonderful testimony to the many who braved the unknown to discover lands far from their home.  
Lisbon is an extremely hilly city!  My friend Nancy and I decided the best way to see it was via a tuk-tuk.  
This is a very strange, 3-wheeled vehicle that seats 3, is run on gas and goes about 20 miles an hour.  We hired one for 3 hours and Marco, our driver, was really a fabulous tour guide who took us all over, stopped in places we requested and took us to others only a local would know about.  Old fashioned cable cars wind up the steep hills and are packed with locals and tourists alike. 
The plazas are huge and filled with massive statues of long-deal hero’s.  Beautiful tiles decorate and cover entire buildings, marble is used everywhere – even the streets and cobblestones are made of marble – really pretty but extremely slippery – even when not wet!
We took the train and spent a whole day in Sintra – home of a Moorish stronghold, an over-the-top Pena Place and a more reasonable place all nestled in the mountains.  Though it was just early June, the tourists had arrived by the bus loads but it was well worth the trip.
                              A truly unique banister!
From Lisbon we journeyed via coach 3 1/2 hours south to Lagoa in the heart of what is known as The Algarve – and fell in love.  The air, the breezes, the sea, the enormous beaches that stretch for miles, the people, the food and lots of castles with loads of history!  
I found a wee, little cottage (19th century) that sits atop a cliff overlooking the sea in the tiny village of Carvoeiro that I am seriously thinking of renting for the winter.  Their beach is right in the center of town.  There’s an Irish pub just down the hill, and the Atlantic stretches out forever.  Buses run between all the little towns and classes in yoga, water aerobics, pottery, painting, etc. abound, along with an active music and theater scene.  A large British population live in the Algarve year-round but I was so happy to hear that high-season is July and August and the tourists depart in the winter.  With sun almost daily and temps in the winter months averaging between 55-65 with no snow or ice ever – what more could a girl from Chicago ask for?!  Will keep you posted if it all works out.

We returned to Lisbon to catch a flight to Madrid and had the first glitch in our travel plans.  Easy Jet bumped us off our flight and we had to book a full-fare flight  9 hours later to allow us to arrive in Madrid – at midnight! – and check into our AirBnB.  Nine hours in the Lisbon airport – not fun!  But the AirBnB owner waiting for us when we arrived and carrying Nancy heavy suitcase up 4 flights of stairs – wonderful!

More on Madrid and our fabulous little place later.
Until next time…..


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