Our decision to explore Porto was the result of a much-needed vote. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, we were leaving Fatima and couldn’t agree whether or not to carry on up North to Porto or make our way back across Spain to Madrid. It might sound like a bit of a no-brainer but we had taken some seriously naff weather over the last couple of weeks in Portugal and it wasn’t looking any better in the near future, so we turned to our Instagram and Facebook friends to let them decide. It was an almost unanimous vote for Porto.
When I hear the word shrine I think of a few candles, pictures and maybe some cuddly toys that have been gathered together and that are generally small areas intent on being an improvised place of respect, like at a lamp-post or a wall.
So when we arrived in Fatima to check out the shrine on this world-famous pilgrimage site, I can hand on my heart say I was not expecting what appeared in front of us.
If there was ever a town that looks like it has been picked straight out of a Disney movie and dropped on the outskirts of a major city, Sintra is it. Twenty kilometers north of Lisbon, Sintra is another world completely; it couldn’t be any more different from the frantic routine of its neighbouring city. It’s like stepping through the wardrobe in to Narnia, except Narnia is a huge expanse of luscious green gardens and forests and dreamlike castles and palaces.
Lisbon caught me off guard. Although it’s Portugal’s capital city, I kind of assumed that Porto was the”place to be” with all the hype that surrounds it. The Algarve is Southern Portugal’s shining star and had already won us over (and put us behind schedule by a good few weeks) earlier on in our trip. So what did Lisbon have to offer us?
It’s always exciting going to a new country for the first time, so I was pretty excited about our next adventure through Portugal. First port of call was obviously the Algarve. With beautiful beaches, whitewashed fishing villages and cheap food and drink, I was looking forward to some more warm weather and to completely chill out for a few days. With its good weather all year round, the Algarve is a major destination for tourists and expats alike and it’s very easy to see why people just don’t want to go home.