Honeymoon in Portugal: Affordable Glamour

August 17, 2015
portugal, portugal featured
Honeymoon in Portugal: Affordable Glamour

A honeymoon in Portugal is a celebratory excursion that delivers all the glamour of a European honeymoon without draining your bank account. My husband and I honeymooned and traveled through Lisbon, Lagos, Porto and the Douro wine region while dining on fresh seafood (cataplana), drinking inexpensive local wine (vinho verde), and toasting one another with several tumblers of port wine.  Whether you want the urban energy of Lisbon and Porto or the sun kissed coast of the Algarve, you will be immersed in the smooth energetic Portuguese culture that is almost always served with a side of french fries.

Transportation:

In order to keep costs reasonable, we took advantage of Portugal’s bus, train, taxi and boat systems. If you are familiar with any major city’s public transportation system, you will have no problem navigating Portugal’s. Although terminal train and bus signs were not translated into English as frequently as in other Western European cities, we found the Portuguese people incredibly friendly and willing to help point us in the correct direction. In one instance, while we waited at a bus terminal, a group of local fellow bus riders came over to us and informed us via hand gestures and by picking up our luggage that we were on the wrong bus!

Once we arrived in Porto by bus, we met up with our day cruise that sailed down the Douro River and through the country’s wine region. Gliding down the Douro River with Douro Azul Cruises was a highlight of the trip. The one-day boat cruise included a basic breakfast, a traditional Portuguese lunch and several pitchers of vinho verde. A heads up to vegetarians: a traditional Portuguese lunch is not vegetarian friendly. The Douro Azul cruise was comfortable and hospitable–expect a true local experience and an opportunity to meet fellow travelers. The river cruise provided the natural luxury of viewing the green pastoral Douro region and the price point saved a few of those wedding checks to spend on sangria and cheese toasties.

Accommodations

Our trip began in Lisbon and we found updated and contemporary 2 and 3 star hotels in abundance. We selected Hotel Florida because of the hotel’s proximity to the public train system and restaurants. The interior decor was inspired by American pop culture with a nod to Hollywood glitz; the hotel vibe was casual and chic–much like most of Portugal. While staying in Lagos, we decided to arrive and find lodging impromptu style. Trusted travel literary companion, Rick Steves, guided us to a few spots but we ended up walking by the Riomar Hotel and checking in. Breakfast was included, the interior was clean, the hotel location was smack in the middle of town, and the price was right!

If you want to take the romance up a notch on your honeymoon, stay in one of Portugal’s many pousada options. Pousadas de Portugal runs a chain of historical hotels in Portugal that are a local treasure. Most pousadas have dramatic views of the ocean or wine country and are economically priced. Pousada lodging is available for under 100 American dollars, the food is 5 star and many have on site vineyards. You may ask yourself: Have I died and gone to heaven, pousada style? Yes. Yes, you have. But, at least you can leave this earth knowing you have slept and dined in luxury at a reasonable price.

Lodging in Porto was a misstep. The hotel room door where we stayed would not close or remain locked, leaving us to wonder if we had taken our love of a good deal too far. Do not let this housing mishap deter you from Porto. Porto mirrors Florence, Italy in many ways: a walkable historic European city with a beautiful river that divides the town. Instead of colorful gelato stands, Porto specializes in a variety of port wines. Porto’s architecture transports the visitor to another time and inspires wish making by sunset.

Spirits, Seafood & NightLife

Portugal’s wines, ports, and fresh seafood are a locavore’s nirvana. These local effervescent and savory delights work in concert and stage each dinner to be a culinary event. Vinho verde is a local wine that translates to “green wine” and is a cheerful spritzy wine that is easy to drink. Some bottles have a slightly green glow but this wine runs from white to rosé. An average bottle will cost around 5 American dollars. Port wines are fortified and typically enjoyed after dinner, slowly. They end the meal on a comfortable note.

The dining options are traditional (seafood, meat and potatoes); you will not find a wide variety of cuisine, most every restaurant serves similar Portuguese menus. In Lagos, stop by the intimate and busy Casinha do Petisco to order your seafood cataplana 24 hours in advance. The chef prepares a meal for kings out of seafood and broth. If you are a lover of fish, this meal may be paradigm shifting. The perfected simplicity of these dining experiences highlights what makes Portugal so special–you are not living an orchestrated honeymoon experience; rather, you are transported, for a brief time, into the way the Portuguese live–one sunset at a time, one vinho verde at a time, one fresh meal at a time.

Honeymooning in Portugal: Affordable Glamour
Portuguese Seafood Delight; Photo By Webponce

We spent most evenings sitting in the town center, people watching and cheering on the World Cup. If it is possible to travel through Portugal during the Euro Cup or World Cup, consider capitalizing on this opportunity. In every Portuguese town or city, the local restaurants set up a large screen in the street and people gather to cheer on the games. We felt like we were part of an international block party. Beer and wine are sold and chairs are set up to view the matches.

Visit Portugal for your honeymoon and fall in love with this inspiring European country.

Honeymoon in Portugal: Affordable Glamour

Top photo credit: Porto, Portugal: Photo By Clark&KimKays

 

 

 

About Kathleen Harsy

Kathleen HarsyKathleen Harsy, a TED-ED Innovative Teacher, is a passionate high school educator who aims to engage every one of her 150 students and because of her students’ diverse interests she believes curiosity is serious business. After graduating with her MA in Lit from Northwestern and earning a certification in Ed Leadership she began exploring how pursuing her own interests of travel, writing and school gardening might enhance her classroom instruction. Kathleen is a three time National Endowment for the Humanities teacher fellow, and has published poetry, educational essays, an original musical theater book, and her work has been featured in a wide variety of publications such as The New York Times, Chicago History Museum, Louisa May Alcott Orchard House, New Scriptor Journal and local theater. Her travels have taken her throughout Southern Africa, South America, Europe and Central America. These travels support instruction of literature and its context. She is a founding member of: Chicago Rocks: Battle of the Bands, a non profit, that financially supports Chicago music programs and their students and Women’s Education League, a group that promotes positive women role models within the field of education.

2 thoughts on “Honeymoon in Portugal: Affordable Glamour

  1. Avatar
    M. D.
    August 18, 2015
    Reply

    Portugal was high on our list for our honeymoon but we went to Italy instead, now i’m totally regretting it! It sounds like a wonderful place. We were thinking of going to France for the euro cup this summer but maybe now we will do Portugal instead!!

  2. Avatar
    R. Santo
    August 17, 2015
    Reply

    What a great article! Looking forward to reading her next post….hopefully soon!

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