As the title indicates, my Wife and I have just returned from a 2-Week, 3-City Tour of Portugal in hopes of finding an area in which we could retire in the next couple of years.
We originated in Charlotte, taking a flight to Newark, NJ. From Newark, we flew on United into Lisbon at which time I was concerned about what I had heard about the wait time at the SEF Arrivals area. Low and behold, no issues whatsoever as we were in the queue for no more than 20 minutes, yayy!!
During our trip, aside from the first and last day, we stayed at an AirBnb in each City instead of using Hotels as we were trying to getting a truer feel for what accommodations were really like. We stayed at the Tryp Hotel, which is right next to the Airport on days in which we were flying in and out just to make things easier.
OK, first stop was a beautiful one bedroom apartment in the Baixa-Chiado part of Lisbon. Very centrally located to countless great Restaurants, Cafes and the River Tagus Waterfront. During our 4 days there, we did lots of walking and also took one of the Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus Tours, so that we could see a wide view of the City. We also used the very clean and safe Subway system quite a few times.
Next, we were off to Porto-Campanha Station from Oriente Station on the Alfa Pendular high-speed Train. In just under three very comfortable hours on the train, we arrived in Porto. As an FYI, the train offers complimentary WIFI, Phone/Laptop charging at every seat along with light refreshments, which were reasonably priced. A short Taxi ride from the station to our next AirBnb, we met with the Host of the property. She was extremely helpful in point out the best places to visit and eat.
In my opinion, Porto was the most picturesque City of the three we visited. We did tons of walking here as well, which I found far more difficult than in Lisbon. During our stay in Porto we also did the Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus Tour to get a wider view. I’d say the majority of our time was spent close to the Douro River. Lots of great Restaurants and Cafes and plenty of people watching to do there. We also took a tour and tasting at the Burmester Port House during our visit.
Finally, after four very enjoyable days in Porto, its back to Campanha Station to get on the Alfa Pendular Train for a short hour and fifteen minute trip to Coimbra-B Station. Another quick Taxi to meet the AirBnb Host, who was also extremely helpful in pointing out key places to see and eat. This AirBnb was just blocks away from the University.
While my Wife and I ventured out each day and saw many charming places, one of the absolute highlights was being able to meet some of the Ex-Pats Portugal Community Members for lunch. Yes, we had a terrific meal with Gary Austin, his wife Linda, Andy “The Doc” Thompson, his wife Leona and their friend Carol. It was such a great experience finally meeting face-to-face. Sadly, after lunch reality began to set in that the trip was soon coming to an end as we had to get our Covid Test in preparation for our flight home.
The following day, we headed back to Lisbon on the Alfa Pendular Train. After checking back in to the Hotel, we took one last trip to the City via Subway. Following a few drinks and Dinner, it was time to head back to the Hotel, boooooo! In the morning, we headed back to the Airport. My advice is to leave ample time to get through the process. We actually spent far more time in the SEF queue leaving Portugal than when we arrived. I would say it took the better part of two hours from the time we arrived at the Airport to when we arrived at our Departure Gate.
Flight back to Newark was smooth sailing. After a three hour layover and Terminal Change we were on our flight back to Charlotte. Long travel day but we were finally home. Now we can’t wait to go back! Right now, I’d have to say that Lisbon is our leader in the clubhouse with Coimbra a very close second as places we would consider moving. We just found Porto not as easy for us to get around as we don’t plan on having a car.
As you can see, I’m not much of a writer but wanted to share some of our experiences. This will likely open the thread for many questions and welcomed discussion.
OK, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading!!