Lisbon: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Monument of the Discoveries, Lisbon, PortugalMonument of the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal
Monument of the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal

Monument of the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal

A little over four years ago, we were planning a trip to Portugal. The plan was to stay in the Lisbon area for a week, before continuing on with another week in Tuscany. It was our first trip to Portugal, and in my Type-A way, I researched and found a place to stay in Cascais near the beach, figured out public transportation, and was charting a list of things to see and do. We were traveling with a friend and every few days we shared something new and exciting that we learned.

Tickets were purchased, accommodations booked, lists were made. We were ready.

BUT – as we were about to be reminded – travel plans don’t always turn out the way we want. Or that we would hope for.

Sixteen hours before we were to board our flight for Lisbon, my father-in-law passed away. It was not entirely unexpected, he had been hospitalized for a short while, but it nevertheless through us for a loop emotionally as well as logistically. While family expected us to leave on the trip as planned, it was what John would have wanted, that wasn’t a decision we were comfortable with. We needed a plan, and by the time we were able to start working on it, we were down to under 12 hours and counting.

We were able to make things work out on a modified schedule. The airlines was remarkably helpful in getting us re-booked, despite there only being one flight that had availability that could still catch us up with the rest of our flights and trip. The flight change fees were modest, our apartment rental helpful, and we were able to get word to our traveling companion who was already on the road (and without cell phone or internet access).

We were a ragged looking couple when we finally showed up for our flight. We splurged and spent an obscene amount of money on a last minute upgrade to business class, a decision that I regretted for only an instant.

In the end, we made it to Portugal. We didn’t make it to all the sites we wanted to see, but we did make it to the Monument of the Discoveries. We didn’t make it to all the restaurants we wanted to try, but we did drink vino tinto and snack on pastel de nata. We didn’t get to take any of the day trips we had planned, but we did recover from jet lag with a view of the beach in Estoril, and even managed a enough energy to walk part of the boardwalk.

We missed so much of beautiful Portugal, but we always knew we’d go back. One day.

And “one day” will happen next month when we return to to Portugal for a Viking River Cruise, Portugal’s River of Gold, a 10-day tour and cruise. (Disclosure:  We were invited guests of Viking for the sailing.) The itinerary includes a couple days in Portugal, giving us a chance to see at least a few of things we missed, and then heads to Porto to start the cruise. The itinerary if full of interesting ports and side trips including:  Porto, Bitetos, Regua, Pinhao, Barca d’Alva, all in Portugal, and then we venture into Spain to Salamanca and Vega de Terron.

Our sailing is sold out – sorry, it would have been fun to have you along – but there are plenty of other sailings through the end of the year and into 2016. Not sure if you’d like a river cruise? Read my post to help you decide if a river cruise is right for you. (And please take a moment to answer our survey at the end of that post.)

I’m pretty excited about returning to Portugal. My friends at Viking River had no idea when they extended this invitation that it was turning our “one day” into a specific day – September 29, 2015. We’re looking forward to an entirely different experience on our return visit to Portugal. As always, you can follow along on our advdnture; I’ll share specific information as we get closer to departure.

Are you interested in river crusing or visiting Portugal? Pin this to your travel Pinterest boards.

Monument of the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal

 

 

 

 

 

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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