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Tuesday, 04 March 2008

Portugal: Euro-Break on a (Grown-Up) Shoestring - Page 2

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Finding ourselves just shy of our thirties and well on our way into the “real world” -- careers, a mortgage, and various other trappings of adulthood -- my husband and I felt the need for a winter getaway. Perhaps the idea of a budget Euro-vacation struck us because its appeal lay in the evocation of younger and more carefree days. At the same time, we weren’t prepared to spend our restful week away from work hitchhiking with backpacks and passing off fake ID’s to get into youth hostels. We had a week’s vacation, and we had the means to upgrade slightly from the days of student travel. We agreed that if we could do it for the price of a Caribbean all-inclusive deal we would go. We did some reading and deemed Portugal our destination of choice.

The city proper is worth a day or two of exploration – perhaps more if you have a particular love for architecture and city views. Higher elevations (above the Baixa) can be accessed by tram, funicular, or ‘elevador’ (good, old-fashioned stairs). The Castelo Sao Jorge (5 €) and Convento do Carmo (3 €) both offer history, architecture, and breathtaking views. The convent’s roof was lost in the 1755 earthquake, and the remaining gothic arches are striking and eerie against the sky.Portugal: Euro-Break on a (Grown-Up) Shoestring

Beyond the downtown, the Expo ’98 grounds and Parque das Nacoes are worth a visit. It can feel like a theme park, but the buildings are modernly spectacular and the Oceanarium is well worth the 10 € admission fee.

If a futebal match is scheduled during your visit, consider taking the metro to one of the two soccer stadiums and picking up tickets – the enthusiasm of the fans is overwhelming, especially for visitors from North America. There is so much entertainment and human drama going on in the stands that you certainly don’t have to be a soccer fan to enjoy the game.

Portugal: Euro-Break on a (Grown-Up) ShoestringA day trip to the hills and palaces of Sintra is a must -- a short train ride (6.40€ return) from Lisbon transports you to the verdant hills and Moorish ruins which inspired the Romantic poets. Each of the three palaces (National Palace, Moorish Ruins, and Pena Palace) charges admission, and you may wish to pick and choose based on your interest and available time.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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