Portugal. Warm up with the ruby-red richness of port wine, in the very city where its name originates – Oporto, Portugal. Situated adjacent to Spain, Portugal enjoys the same superbly sunny weather and vivid vacation settings, offering that magical Mediterranean flair! Portugal’s captivating capital city of Lisbon is home to deep Iberian history boasting the world’s most expensive chapel, glistening with Brazilian gold inside the magnificent Sao Roque Church. Jeronimos Monastery, resting place of global explorer Vasco de Gama, reaches back to the 1500s. Its cloisters are considered to be amongst the most breathtaking anywhere and have therefore been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Long the home of Portugal’s monarchs, Sintra is an enchanting town of marvelous historic mansions – all set against the backdrop of lush rolling hills. Sintra’s many ancient castles include the Palácio Nacional de Sintra (a primary abode for Portuguese royalty until the early 20th century), the hilltop and storybook Palácio da Pena, Quinta de Regaleira (incorporating several architectural styles with gorgeous surrounding gardens), the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle), and the Palácio de Monserrate.
The sumptuous Portuguese cuisine varies from region to region, but fresh fish and seafood are to be found on every menu. The national dish is called “bacalhau” – a dried, salted cod. The Portuguese have been obsessed with it since the early 16th century! Today there are said to be 365 different ways of preparing it, one for each day of the year.
You can truly capture the air and atmosphere with a scenic Portuguese bicycle tour. Starting in Sesimbra (a small city by the sea in the Arrabida Natural Park) you can bike to the south-westernmost point in continental Europe. This tour crosses two National Parks, a shimmering coastal line of beautiful beaches and typical quaint villages.
Does not the fragrant flavor of Madeira’s finest wines, which are known to blend so perfectly with the soothing orange glow of the setting sun, sound like Portugal’s friendliest calling?