Ah, Portugal. Mysterious nation at the western end of the Iberian Peninsula. Land of nata tarts, salt cod, and port wine, of fado, salty ocean air, sunsets, and surfing. It is the only continental European country on GMT, and it is also my first stop on my Iberian adventure!

For the most part, my month in Portugal will be based in Lisbon, where I have a seemingly lovely one bedroom flat in between the Bairro Alto and Alfama districts, just off a main drag and right around the corner from a quality looking fish restaurant. I am excited to explore the hills of the Alfama, and the more modern construction of the lower city!

From Lisbon, I plan on taking a few day trips. The Belem district, while technically in the city, is fairly removed from where I am staying and will require a full day to visit. This is one of the few places that pre-earthquake architecture can be seen. It also houses the Maritime Museum, a monastery with the tomb of Vasco de Gama, and the Royal Coach Museum. Plus it sits right on the water!

Sintra is the home of many of the Portuguese royal palaces, and is a short train ride from Lisbon. The colors of Pena Palace are among the most photographed sites in the country, and I’d feel like I missed out if I didn’t take some of my own!

The ocean air calls to me – although I’m not a beach person, oddly – and Caiscais is another short train from Lisbon, sitting on the Atlantic rather than the mouth of the Tagus as the rest of the city does. I believe the train is €4 round trip, so skipping it seems to be truly a waste. I don’t even know what to expect there, but for that price it almost doesn’t matter!

Smack in the middle of my month, both to give myself a bit of a change of scenery and to give my hosts a chance to service my flat, I will be spending a few nights in Portugal’s “second city” of Porto, a few hours to the north of Lisbon by high speed rail. Thanks to my two Marriott credit cards (each gives me a free night every year) and a few extra points, I have three nights at the Sheraton, and thanks to Visit Porto, I have a pass for some of the top sites! I will be tasting port wine, learning about Henry the Navigator, and more!!

Obviously I will be posting regularly during my month in Portugal, although I do have a few remaining articles from this fall/winter to put up first, and I hope you all follow along on this adventure. (I don’t know what I’ll write about, since I never know what will inspire me, but expect a heavy dose of history and culture, as always.) Also, if you have visited any of these places and have tips, please don’t hesitate to email them to me or, better yet, post them in the comments so we can all learn together.

Next stop, Lisbon!!

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