Two  weeks of exploring Portugal with David and Judy who were making a slight detour on their way home from Spain.


Alvor
Our first few days in the Algarve, were in Alvor, a gorgeous little fishing village set on the estuary of the Rio Alvor.  But a good stroll down the boardwalk takes you to the main beach Praia de Alvor with its long stretches of golden sand dunes that look like they go on for ever.


 But even better still was the first sip of smooth rich coffee - oh la la finally!!!!



Portimao
We met some delightful, warm, welcoming people, passionate about their country and the lifestyle they enjoy - quote "we take time to talk, live and love, the important things in life".



We drove north inland to Evora an enchanting walled city.  Once a centre for learning and the arts and a popular residence of the Portugese kings

Cascais

Next stop Cascais a gorgeous coastal town just a few km's west of Lisbon.  Originally a small fishing village that became popular with the European nobility.  It is now a delightful town full of great cafes, restaurants, wonderful shopping and surrounded by some superb beaches.



We walked for miles along the boardwalk, perfect temperature and then explored some of the back streets with houses covered in bougainvillea in glorious colours.





From Cascais we could catch the train in Lisbon.  A thirty minute ride along the coast and you were there, slap bang in the midst of this beautiful vibrant city.   So much to see and there never seems enough time.




 Lisbon is Europes second oldest capital (after Athens), capital of an empire than spread over all continents.  From here many explorers set sail on some of the greatest voyagers and discoveries.  Sadly and rather poignant to the four of us, Lisbon was devastated by a massive earthquake in 1755 in which thousands of people were killed and eighty five percent of the city's structures destroyed.


Today you find a thriving, captivating city full of cultural treasures, fabulous architecture and surprisingly safe, friendly and great value.



Random guide


We had an entertaining Free Walking tour with a young local - his version of Lisbon.  A great way to see the city but can be a bit random.


Quinta da Regaleria



Only a thirty minute drive into the hills behind Lisbon is Sintra, a stunning spot.  A magical town once the summer residence of the Portugese Royal family and other wealthy aristocrats who built huge castles and mansions. Home to the National Palace, Pena Palace (one of Europes most famous palaces) and many other fairytale like mansions that are snuggled into the lush green environment.



    We spent hours wandering around the Quinta da Regaleria, a fantasy like palace surrounded with an amazing garden filled with statues of gods, turrets, mysterious wells, ponds and grottos. One man's imagination and years of hard work.



Even the Lawrences get a mention with this being one of the oldest hotels in Portugal, built in 1790. My random relatives.



National Palace

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AuthorDavid and Nicci Cambridge