Monday, April 5, 2010

Bring on the Sunny Algarve Adrenaline

Our very first European trip was to Portugal (the cities of Lisbon and Porto). It seems fitting that one of our last adventures would take us back full circle to this marvelous country. This time to the Algarve region along the southern coast. We have learned quite a lot about travel and touring since that first jaunt - where we came seconds away from missing our flight altogether. In that time we have become pros at packing lightly, maneuvering through new airports and scoring the best budget airline deals. Kirk found a low cost flight sale 6 months ago...flying again into Lisbon and driving south to the sunny Algarve. 100 euros round trip for 3 tickets - how could we pass it up?!? The Algarve was everything we had hoped upon leaving dreary Brussels. The sun warmed us through and through. I have never been so elated to pull out the sunscreen. Sunglasses on and wind in my hair - nothing could keep the smile from my face.
We traveled first to Estremoz - a gorgeous, gleaming white town nestled in the hills. As we drove in it felt like someone had pumped me up with glee and adrenaline.
Wandering around the Pousada da Rainha Santa Isabel was our main mission in Estramoz. The Pousadas are government-sponsored high end hotels. They make wonderful rest stops to gawk at posh lobbies and pretend to hob-nob with the rich and famous.
Connor could have cared less about the Pousada. She was running circles around this statue outside. I wasn't the only one with the adrenaline rush. She left Kirk and I in stitches when she found this "C" in the stones. "C for Connor" that is! She was awfully proud of herself, announcing her discovery over and over again.A quick stop in Estremoz was a wonderful jumpstart for that 'far and away' feeling of R and R.We hit yet another white town for lunch - this one was Evora. All of them reminded me a lot of Arcos de la Fronterra in Spain.After poking around Evora we found this restaurant 1/4 Para As 9. We weren't sure if it was too fancy for our fam, but since the lunch crowd was thinning out we decided to give it a chance.What a find! We had the most marvelous carafe of white sangria and Portuguese desserts that still make my mouth water just thinking about them.After Estramoz and Evora it was time to hit the beach. I pulled out our Rick Steves book and turning to this map made me grin......please note the "Best" "Worst of Algarve" and "Better" designations on Rick's map. Where were we staying? Nothing but the "Best!"Arriving just in time for sunset - it was heaven.Connor thought so too! My blonde beauty basked in the glow.

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