First Stop: Lisbon, Portugal

Yup, that’s where I’m headedPortugal! I’m off to the city of seven hills, to
ride the funicular, listen to some fado and meander through the Alfama, Baixa and Barrio Alto neighborhoods. I want to
walk along the Tagus, taste some port wine, learn about the azueljos tiling art and visit the ruins of Castelo de Sao Jorge. I’ve become
familiar with the names of places by thumbing through guidebooks but I’m careful not to read too much. I really just
want to get there and let my visit unfold as it may. Over the next few weeks I’ll teach myself the basics of Portuguese
so I can get by as I roam the streets. I’ll spend a little time learning about Sintra, Cascais and Estoril, since I’d
like to take a daytrip out to one of these nearby locations during my visit. I’ve got a library copy of Jose Saramago’s
Journey to Portugal sitting on my desk, which
I’ll only have time to skim through before I leave. I’ve booked a hostel for my first night, and know I’ll stay in
Lisbon about four days or so when I arrive in mid-February. Visiting in the  off-season should make navigating
this historic port city peaceful and easy. (Hopefully!) After that, all I know it that I plan to head south — maybe to
a coastal town along the Algarve, maybe west to the Alentejo, for a visit to Evora…I’m not exactly sure. If you’ve traveled to Lisbon
or southern Portugal, please share your favorite memories and experiences. I’d love to hear from you as I prepare my