Subject: Holiday in Portugal 2003 .. Itinerary and General Information
Hi and Happy New Year Ziners, one and all!

I've been remiss in not submitting a report of our marvelous trip, but arriving home on November 17th put us right in the midst of holiday preps/shopping/etc. combined with a few house projects...So I am sending what've I've started and will complete upon our return from Florida sometime in March.

Thanks for all your advice and guidance, particulary to Linda, Leonardo and Ricardo who provided ideas, suggestions on locales to visit which we would not have considered and encouragement for driving in the wonderful country of my heritage!

Here's the start.....



LISBON Residencial Londrina (3) FATIMA Residencial Santa Clara TELHADOAS GRANDE/GRUTAS da SAO ANTONIO/MIRA d'AIRE COIMBRA Hotel IBIS CURIA Hotel Das Termas Curia LUSO BUCCACCO -- The Douro Valley Area -- LAMEGO Residencial Sao Paulo REGUA PINHAO VILA REAL Hotel Toscia -- North of Porto -- AMARANTE GUIMARES BRAGA Hotel IBIS BARCELOS VARZIM VILA NOVA de CONDE MATSINHOS PORTO Hotel IBIS VILA NOVA de GAIA --Along the East Coast -- AVEIRO Hotel Alboi COSTA NOVA FIGUEIRA da FZ Hotel Costa da Prata S.PEDRO MUEL NAZARE CALDAS da RAINHA Hotel Cristal Caldas (2) OBIDOS AZENHAS do MAR SINTRA Residencial Pensao Sintra (2) CABO ROCA GUINCHO BOCA do INFERNO CASCAIS ESTORIL Pensao Pico Pau (3 total) The ALGARVE ALBUFEIRA Hotel Cerro Alagoa, in town (7-timeshare) ALBUFEIRA Vila do Gale Hotel, near beach (7-timeshare) -- Towns visited in The Algarve -- Faro # Quarteira # Vilamoura - Sagres - SilveS - Lagos - Portimao


GETTING TO AND FROM NEWARK AIRPORT ---------------------------

We now rent a car from our local airport, picking it up the night before, loading it and then leaving at our leisure the next day for a timely, un-rushed trip to our departure point#Newark is very leaves the rental car at its terminal, then just walks over to the Monorail which you board for transport to your departure

terminal#plenty of luggage carts around and the system works very efficiently.

ARRIVING AT LISBON AIRPORT ----------------------------------------

Savvy travelers that we are, one would never expect to have the experience we did! While in line for passport stamping, we mentioned being skeptical that taxi drivers would try to rip off visitors but were quickly admonished by another visitor to the

contrary, citing the stringent rules in place to avoid such a situation.

So, the first Dumb Move was ignoring the overhead sign that

read Taxi Vouchers with an arrow to the respective area to obtain

such#i.e., where one would announce your destination/pay a set rate in advance/ and proceed to the taxi cue with voucher in hand for the driver! Instead, we hopped into a cab and headed for our locale

which involved a few turnabouts before locating it; finally, upon reaching the destination, the cab parked on the opposite side of the street and carried luggage across to avoid a problem in turning

around. Then, he announced his fare which was more than double what we had been advised to expect; when questioned he shrugged and looked at our luggage, stating extra charges for it.

Now, the second Dumb Move#we paid (instead of negotiating) and failed to ask for a signed receipt with his Cab Number and Name on it so that we could register a proper complaint.No doubt the fare would have been immediately reduced!

Lessons learned: there IS a reason for the prepaid Taxi Voucher

system; always note the cab number and driver's name (generally

posted someplace in the cab)...and don't take advice from any

stranger in line!!

TOURIST INFORMATION AND LITERATURE----------------------------------

We ordered (gratis) Area Guides and separate Accommodations Listings from which proved invaluable - excellent background

info, history, advice and maps. They served as an outline for our trip itinerary! Since so much data is available in print and on the net, this report does not detail history as such2003.

AUTO RENTAL ---------------------------------------------------------

We rented thru Paradise Promotions, website:

or at a MUCH LOWER rate than going

direct to popular car rental firms or any other sites we found;

turns out our contract called for a Budget Car rental! Only a deposit is taken upon reservation, with balance payable on pickup#we

generally prepay the whole amount but in this case the deposit seems to be the agent's commission and the final payment is made directly

to the rental car company.

Betsy, our 2001 Opel Corsa served us well over her tenure with us. 28 days # 3295 km # 2043 miles! We picked her up at the Lisbon Rua Castilho Budget Car office after spending the first three days in Lisbon#then left her at the Cascais office upon returning from our final two weeks in the Algarve and walked back to our pensao in Estoril for the next two nights. Very convenient both ways.

However, one caution - Be certain that the pickup or dropoff

points will be open at your designated times since it is common to close for several hours on some afternoons # or for the agency to change hours after your contract is set#so check again.

DRIVING IN PORTUGAL-------------------------------------------------

Is an experience in and of itself! We were prepared (?) for the worse but,all in all, had no major problems, especially on the modern highways. High speeders tend to ride your tail and give you the lights; we simply accommodated them and were happy to move over and let them fly by.

However, city driving is another story.. the problem is too many cars and too much traffic for unprepared city/town streets and alleys, not to mention the hills! Avoid driving in Lisbon and Porto if at all possible.

And, parking is the other difficulty..we often saw cars parked

within inches of each other, often right up on the sidewalks,

adjacent to poles or other obstructions and creating impossible

maneuvering around them! Visions of some of the tight spots we were in still linger in our memory. One night coming out of church, the entire sidewalk was covered with cars parked each and every way; we should have stayed around to watch the antics in getting out!

Be prepared for Traffic Circles (Rotundas) galore! This is their way of slowing down the drivers and is quite effective.

THE PORTUGUESE PEOPLE ---------------------------------------------

are ever so polite and friendly; the majority seem happy with their lives; they are clean, hard-working, attractive - albeit terrible at giving driving directions#their ultimate response was simpre a direito or simpre em fronte, just keep going, always ahead!!

With cruzamentos(crossroads) and rotundas (traffic circles) thrown in there someplace#same result, no matter where or who one asked!!

So, best to read your maps carefully and ask hotel people to mark directions if possible!


Bring comfortable, thick rubber-soled shoes if possible; particularly

in Lisbon, many sidewalks are uneven, some in disrepair with small stones imbedded in sand making for a potentially dangerous event#

Many dogs abound, unleashed but none presented a problem in our walks around towns and at the beaches.

SHOPPING -------------------------------------------------------------

Lisbon's Columbo Shopping Center, easily accessible via the metro, is one of the most modern we've seen! The top level where the food court and restaurants are situated in a circle, the center of which looks down to the main floor, features a rounded glass domed

ceiling - bright and airy and appealing. The children's fun court has a roller coaster ride above and surrounding it. Continente is the huge anchor grocery store # cashiers are seated, three behind

each other, with near 50 registers total! The marvelous bakery

counter, fruit, cheese/sausage/meat sections are all outstanding and much too appealing!

Amoreias Shopping Center was within walking distance of our Lisbon pensao and also had wonderful restaurants.

Most towns and villages have a weekly outdoor market, some featuring

fresh fish, fruit and baked goods as well. Attending one of these makes for a fun (and potentially filling) day!


FOOD -----------------------------------------------------------------

Meals begin with Entradas (some of which can be quite costly at the more expensive restaurants) consisting ofolives/bread/cheese and sometimes sardine pate or other enticements set before you automatically; you are charged for what you consume; if you prefer not to have any, just say no entradas or ask for only pao (bread).

Soups are outstanding # many varations of the popular Portuguese

Calde Verde which is a pureed potatoe/greens combo, sometimes dotted with bits or slices of Linguisa; many other soups are also carrot/potatoe puree bases with other veggies such as cabbage/onions

and others added in and seasoned well. Variations of bean soups were favorites and chicken soups were loaded with chicken pieces.

Some different veggie combinations included sliced carrots/garlic/parsley in oil and vinegar and a combo of cold brussel sprouts with shredded carrot strips. Salads were almost always

dotted with shredded carrots.

Ah, the fish! Bacalau A Nota is a casseroled fish/augratin potatoe/cheese favorite as were the fish stews # Caldaraida (a mixture of fish) or Cataplana (which includes shell fish as well). And the typical boiled dinner# Bacalau Coizido is served with boiled potatoes and chick peas which one smothers in good, virgin olive

oil. And another favorite - grilled sardines cannot go unmentioned,

nor can Pork Aletejano (clams with bits of pork in a delicious spicy sauce)!

Spectacular, succulent leitao (suckling pig) was the speciality in many spots and a takeoff of the popular Brazilian dish, feijoada

this time made with white ( instead of black) beans with bits of pork and other meats was always exceptionally prepared.

WINE ----------------------------------------------------------------

Each region has its own specialties and typical house table wines are served by the glass or carafes in many restaurants. Grocery

stores and Garafeiras (wine/liquor stores) carry wines in a variety of prices and types, some as inexpensive as water.


# The Douro Region is the only place where grapes for Port Wine

grow, due to the mountainous terrain, climate and soil conditions.

# September is the time of grape harvesting (Vindimas) when

they are hand-picked, mostly by women (since there is no room for picking machines to navigate). Men carry the heavy deep baskets

brimming with grapes to the vineyard warehouses where they are

readied for transport to the Port Wine Lodges.

# All ports are blended # different grapes are mashed and brandy is then added.

# Ports must be kept at least 3 years before they are bottled

as drinkable.

# Vats are completely cleaned out annually by siphoning out the wine into holding tanks.

# Flavors are imparted by the type of grape and length of time

the wine is held in oak vats.

# White Port comes in Dry, Medium Dry and Sweet # used mostly

as an Apertif or Dessert.

# Ruby Port is Sweet # served with Dessert, mainly chocolate,

custards to enhance the best flavors.

# Tawny Port # not as Sweet, somewhat more Dry # use with cheese, fruits, almonds, apples.

Best Recommended: Dona Antonia 6 year Tawny Reserve

# RESERVES are aged in vats a minimum of 2 years, then bottled

for a minimum of 6 years.

# VINTAGES are the BEST and must be aged more than 10 years

#######.. IMPORTANT ###.###

A True Vintage must show Actual Date on labels, i.e. Vintage 1993, vs 10 Year Vintage!

Vintage Port must be used within 24 hours (maximum 2 days) to enjoy it at its best since further exposure to air tends to oxidize since it has been aged so long already.