Stef’s Five Faves: Portugal Edition

After fourteen days of intense travels through Portugal, I’ve decided to give an overview of the spots I enjoyed most, aka “Stef’s Five Faves: Portugal Edition!” If you’re planning your itinerary or just want to learn more about what Portugal has to offer, then this is for you! So let’s take a look at the very Best of the West — of the Iberian Peninsula, that is!

First, let me plot the course of our expedition.

Where I Laid My Head

My most-recent Europe trip started in mid-June with five nights in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. The first two nights I spent on my own doing pre-tour independent explorationsThat was followed by three additional nights in Lisbon as part of a 12-day Rick Steves’ Heart of Portugal tour. Spoiler alert — Lisbon was a fave. More on that in a bit.

After those beautifully busy five days, it was time to say adeus to Lisbon. Our route continued on with a night’s stay in a town the Romans had occupied millennia before us:

Évora!

Praça do Sertório square in Évora
Praça do Sertório square in the heart of Évora

Évora is cute! It’s a whitewashed UNESCO-World-Heritage town with Roman-aqueduct remains.

Évora's old Roman acqueducts
Here I am, single-handedly holding up Évora’s old Roman acqueducts.
You’re welcome, Évora. You’re welcome.

But the spot that gets the most visitors is Évora’s Capela dos Ossos: a Franciscan bone chapel that’s on the macabre end of the spectrum, but fascinating!

In a morbid kind of way.

Capela dos Ossos, Evora
Those Franciscan monks of Capela dos Ossos had a real sense of esprit de corpse.

Continue reading “Stef’s Five Faves: Portugal Edition”

It’s About Damn Time

Sometimes my own inertia drives me nuts.

I’ve been trying to get this blog up and running for what seems like eons. The idea started forming around 2009, I think. Four years later I actually bought the domain name. Woop!

While ideas ruminated at the back of my mind, the site sat in limbo for several more years, feeling all neglected. Wah waah.

Another thing that drives me nuts is the opportunities I’ve let slip by. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with many things I’ve done. I don’t mean to be all negative or down on myself, but I’ll just explain.

I feel very fortunate to have done a bit of traveling in my lifetime.

Queen Elizabeth 2 docked in Lae, Papua New Guinea, 2004

I just wish I had kept a journal or blog during my summer on Crete, my six weeks in Amsterdam, the seven years on cruise ships, or that time I drove across the US when I was twenty. Not to mention those three cold winter months learning German in Germany, in an intensive-language program where I was the only American in a class full of Russians.

Jawohl! Fun times. 

And then there are the more recent travels I wish I had documented.

This June I returned to Seattle after six incredible weeks spent in Europe, starting in Istanbul, followed by travels in England and Wales, then Switzerland and Italy. Not long before that I was lucky to be able to spend ten days in Paris celebrating my 40th birthday and running the Paris marathon.

2016 Paris Marathon

Yippie! My bucket list felt very fulfilled that week.

And last November I got to spend a week in Cuba (una semana en Havana!) exploring the most unique, historically- and culturally-rich, as well as the largest city in the Caribbean — while also trying to improve my rudimentary Spanish skills.

The question now is, did I take full advantage of those amazing opportunities? Did I share pictures on my blog? Or any of the day-to-day stories? Did I even get my blog up and running in time? Did I?   Continue reading “It’s About Damn Time”