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Porto and Porto airport

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48 minutes ago, jpalbny said:

 

Your timing is perfect. We were just in Portugal last month for a week of independent travel. And I finished my blog about the trip today.

 

There is a ton of stuff you can do around Lisbon for 4 days. We went to Evora, Elvas, Marvao, Tomar, Conimbriga, and Coimbra.

 

Similarly, there is plenty to do in and around Porto for a few days. We used a rental car which was great in the small areas around Lisbon, but it was a bit of a pain to have in Porto. The Citania de Briteiros, Guimaraes, and Lamego are all worth visiting from Porto. 

 

We didn't take the train but next time, I'd almost prefer to drive to somewhere near Porto, ditch the car, and take a train. The traffic in Porto (center city) was a bit of a pain. But driving was pretty easy everywhere else.

 

Link to my blog: https://notadourocruise.blogspot.com/

Excellent! Thanks so much. Heading to check out your blog now. 👍

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Jazzbeau, we didn't drive to Sintra, as we didn't have time to visit there on this trip. And last time we went there, it was by train from Lisbon.

 

But we drove on some narrow mountain roads nonetheless. The back way to Marvao was one of the easy ones, in retrospect. The drive to Bucaco Forest got hairy at times, as it was raining and foggy (in addition to the narrow winding mountain roads). We did some really narrow roads outside of Lamego, where there was just no way that two cars could have passed, and again up to the Mirador San Lorenzo. And it was all accomplished in an much-too-large Subaru Outback! I had reserved a compact car, just so I wouldn't have to worry about narrow roads, and they gave me something much bigger. 

 

You are smart to get navigate Porto without a car. The traffic there was not much fun. It added 20-30 minutes to each drive. Next time, I will stay outside of Porto and visit by train.

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Wow, JP and Chris! I am exhausted after just reading your blog!! But what wonderful details and photos! It sounds like you didn't waste a single moment from the time your plane touched down.

 

You have successfully convinced me that we will not be renting a car. Thanks for taking the time to put all of this together. (It also gave me a bit of an idea of what to expect in terms of the weather next November.)

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We are also planning a trip to Lisbon and Porto this time next year.  Such a long time to wait!  We will also be visiting Bordeaux, San Sebastian and Madrid and have no intention of getting a car.  We never drive in Europe, because the trains are so good and fast and very cheap if booked in advance.

 

Off to read you blog now JP, I have enjoyed others that you have posted.

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39 minutes ago, djh1959 said:

 

I have just read the part of your blog about Porto, such great photos!  I was wondering which hotel you stayed at.  I have my eye on one that appears to have similar views to yours, because we love a glass (or four) of wine on a balcony with a water view.

I was planning on staying at the Pestana Vintage Porto, is that where you stayed?

Looking forward to reading the rest of the blog tomorrow.

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1 hour ago, djh1959 said:

I was planning on staying at the Pestana Vintage Porto, is that where you stayed?

I was curious as well. We are booked for 3 nights at the Pestana Vintage Porto. With a balcony, of course. 😎

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You are both correct, we stayed at the Pestana Vintage Porto. Very convenient location for sightseeing, other than the issue with not being able to drive there, and we did get a balcony room. 

 

I put location information (usually the name of our hotel) on each blog post, but Blogger does not display it very prominently. It is hidden at the very end of the blog post, just above the comment section.

 

We often travel in Europe without a car, but there was no way that we could have visited all of the little out-of-the-way placed that we did without one this time.

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4 hours ago, jpalbny said:

You are both correct, we stayed at the Pestana Vintage Porto. Very convenient location for sightseeing, other than the issue with not being able to drive there, and we did get a balcony room. 

 

I put location information (usually the name of our hotel) on each blog post, but Blogger does not display it very prominently. It is hidden at the very end of the blog post, just above the comment section.

 

We often travel in Europe without a car, but there was no way that we could have visited all of the little out-of-the-way placed that we did without one this time.

Glad to hear. We booked a Vintage Grand View Balcony room. It sounds great between the description and location. I'll look for the rest of the location info in the blog.

 

We usually have a car when we travel in Italy, so I understand the concerns about parking, traffic, tolls and restricted roads. Although it is nice to be able to venture off the beaten track, it does come with its challenges. I may check into private drivers at least for the day we head to Porto so we can make stops along the way.

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JP & Chris, one more question (again, a bit OT): I noticed that you used Wine Check for transporting the wine you brought home on the plane. How has your experience been with the product, and any particular recommendations? We normally just ship home by the case, and also carry 4-5 bottles in our checked luggage nestled in WineSkin bags. Thanks!

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1 hour ago, bubbulz said:

JP & Chris, one more question (again, a bit OT): I noticed that you used Wine Check for transporting the wine you brought home on the plane. How has your experience been with the product, and any particular recommendations? We normally just ship home by the case, and also carry 4-5 bottles in our checked luggage nestled in WineSkin bags. Thanks!

 

We also do the wine skin trick when we only want to bring a few bottles home. Or when we go over 12 bottles and just need another one or two extra... 😉

 

We don't have the fancy, name-brand Wine Check product. We have two cheap 6-bottle knock-offs which we bought 3 years ago at a winery in South Africa for about $8 each. They are super except they don't have wheels, so when they are full they can be a bit of a chore to lug for extended periods of time.

 

They are a ballistic nylon outer shell wrapped around a removable styrofoam packing insert with a lid. The bottles slide into cylindrical slots in the insert and the lid goes on, then the shell zips around, sealing them in. Sometimes we stuff dirty clothes around the styrofoam inserts for extra padding. Sometimes we put socks or similar small objects in with the bottles to reduce movement. And sometimes we leave the styrofoam inserts home, bring the shells, and pick up packing material at our destination.

 

We have brought wine home from South Africa, Australia, Chile, and Portland Oregon with them, and they have performed flawlessly. On occasion we plastic-wrap them at the airport, but usually we don't bother. Since we fly business class, and we almost never have more than one suitcase each, they count as another free checked bag. So that beats any international winery's shipping cost, hands down. They have paid for themselves many times over.

 

Here is what they look like. The lids are a few inches thick and fit tightly into the bottoms.

 

1120455475_TPMadagascar-238.thumb.jpg.231b3481749339369de38af953188074.jpg

 

 

Edited by jpalbny
add picture

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That's great and it sounds like you got a great deal on them to boot! I assume you do have to pay duty on the bottles over the allowed duty free quota? (But probably still less than shipping, I'd imagine.) We fly business class as well so always are well within the weight limit but have always worried about potential damage in our regular suitcases (plus the issue of the weight in terms of luggage management. 😉) Again, appreciate all of the helpful info on this thread from you and others.

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19 hours ago, jpalbny said:

You are both correct, we stayed at the Pestana Vintage Porto. Very convenient location for sightseeing, other than the issue with not being able to drive there, and we did get a balcony room. 

 

I put location information (usually the name of our hotel) on each blog post, but Blogger does not display it very prominently. It is hidden at the very end of the blog post, just above the comment section.

 

We often travel in Europe without a car, but there was no way that we could have visited all of the little out-of-the-way placed that we did without one this time.

I have finished your blog now JP, and loved it.  

 

We can't wait for our trip, just a shame it is so far away.  We only got home from our Rhine river cruise a few weeks ago though, so have to wait now.  Flights are so long and expensive from Australia 😞

 

We will also book a Vintage Grand View Balcony room but they aren't available for our dates just yet.  Did you like the hotel?  I have been following TA reviews and they are mostly fairly good.

 

The car won't be an issue for us, we never drive seeing as it is on the wrong side of the road for us.  I hate driving so it would all be left to my husband.  We both drink wine, far too much usually, so it would hardly be fair to him.  Our usual method of travel is public transport, then we stay in one place for at least four or so nights, more if time allows.  We can then day trip from there either with public transport or private drivers.

 

Thanks again for a great blog.

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djh1959, It was a really nice hotel and the Grand Vintage Balcony room was quite nice as well. The location was perfect for sightseeing - many good restaurants nearby, attractions within walking distance, and the Luis I bridge just 2-3 minutes from the front door. It's just a pain that you can't drive to the hotel after 11:00 AM, but we managed.

 

bubbulz, we could pay duty on our wine, should the customs officials choose to make us, but they never have. We tell them what we have and they wave us through. I have heard that the duty on a bottle of wine is something really cheap, like $1 or so per liter. So it's almost not worth it for customs to make you go pay $5 or $10 in duty on a case of wine. So yes, even if we did have to pay duty, it would be far less than the cost of shipping.

 

Thanks both of you, for reading my blog, and for your kind comments.

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11 hours ago, jpalbny said:

bubbulz, we could pay duty on our wine, should the customs officials choose to make us, but they never have. We tell them what we have and they wave us through. I have heard that the duty on a bottle of wine is something really cheap, like $1 or so per liter. So it's almost not worth it for customs to make you go pay $5 or $10 in duty on a case of wine. So yes, even if we did have to pay duty, it would be far less than the cost of shipping.

Good to know! Thanks. 

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On 12/15/2019 at 2:01 PM, jpalbny said:

djh1959, It was a really nice hotel and the Grand Vintage Balcony room was quite nice as well. The location was perfect for sightseeing - many good restaurants nearby, attractions within walking distance, and the Luis I bridge just 2-3 minutes from the front door. It's just a pain that you can't drive to the hotel after 11:00 AM, but we managed.

Thanks JP.  It gets good trip advisor reviews too, so I will book as soon as the dates are available.  One more question, are they real balconies or are them "French" balconies.

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15 hours ago, djh1959 said:

are they real balconies or are they "French" balconies.

 

The trip was a blur of many different hotels, so my memory may be foggy... (It wasn't all the wine we drank, certainly)  🤣

 

I think it was a fairly narrow balcony, but "real" in that it was wide enough to walk out on, and stand on with the windows closed. I don't think a chair would fit there but could be wrong... We had other rooms with balconies and I didn't take a picture. 

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Thanks JP, as it will be winter, it will probably be too cold to sit for long, but it's nice to step outside with a glass of wine or port (or coffee) and take in the view.

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JP-  I was just in Portugal with my 2 youngest daughters from 20 November to 2 Dec, so we just missed you.  Amazing country, affordable, friendly people...the rain wasn't fun, but it was warmer than it would have been at home (Watertown NY), so there's that.

 

Thanks for taking time to post all this.  Even after 2 trips, from your great pictures I can see that I still need to return.  Only half way through your blog, wanted to savor it a bit.  Like the Ginja wine I brought back.  One of the bottles is filled with the cherries.  Did you get a chance to sample it?

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14 hours ago, djh1959 said:

Thanks JP, as it will be winter, it will probably be too cold to sit for long, but it's nice to step outside with a glass of wine or port (or coffee) and take in the view.

We'll be there at the end of November so we feel the same. From the photos I've found, it looks like the balconies for the Vintage Grand View Balcony rooms aren't terribly large.

image.png.8fc634b254324dc31327b28a358d48a0.png

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On 12/12/2019 at 5:48 PM, jpalbny said:

 

Your timing is perfect. We were just in Portugal last month for a week of independent travel. And I finished my blog about the trip today.

 

There is a ton of stuff you can do around Lisbon for 4 days. We went to Evora, Elvas, Marvao, Tomar, Conimbriga, and Coimbra.

 

Similarly, there is plenty to do in and around Porto for a few days. We used a rental car which was great in the small areas around Lisbon, but it was a bit of a pain to have in Porto. The Citania de Briteiros, Guimaraes, and Lamego are all worth visiting from Porto. 

 

We didn't take the train but next time, I'd almost prefer to drive to somewhere near Porto, ditch the car, and take a train. The traffic in Porto (center city) was a bit of a pain. But driving was pretty easy everywhere else.

 

Link to my blog: https://notadourocruise.blogspot.com/

 

What a great blog!  Thanks – you sent me running to Rick Steves to check out tolls in Portugal.  Apparently the car rental agency should have offered you a "Via Verde" transponder that would add the tolls to your car rental account.

 

Which hotel did you stay at in Tomar?  It sounds like the Hotel dos Templarios

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Jazz, they certainly could have. Hertz's website says it's available for a small fee. The guy at the rental counter said that they "couldn't" do it because it was a rental ending in another country (Spain). Which I didn't really buy... I was paying a 350E drop fee for the privilege of returning a car to Spain, and said car already had Spanish plates, so in essence I was doing them a favor and they were charging me a ton of money for it! They could have easily paid to mail the device back to Portugal, from their profit margin from that drop fee.

 

In any event, I politely outlined my disappointment to Hertz after I returned, and they ended up refunding the drop fee for my inconvenience. So I was happy with their response. I ended up paying more for gas, than I did for the rental. 

 

Yes, we did stay at Hotel dos Templarios in Tomar. The location should be showing up on my blog  posts for each day, but it seems that there is a glitch in Blogger and it's not appearing when I look at the posts tonight. It was there earlier, really...

 

The hotel was a very elegant place, and the split-level rooms (duplex suites) were especially nice (and super cheap, think it was 160E per night). There are two balconies to enjoy (one on each level), and they throw in a bottle of Port to sweeten the deal. 

 

Bubbulz, that picture looks familiar. I think our balcony was one floor up from this picture, just visible above the guys' blurred-out face. Given the cold and rain, we were barely out there, just long enough for pictures of the river and the bridge.

 

Ural Guy - no, I don't remember the Ginja wine with cherries. Sounds great though. Will have to search for it next time!

Edited by jpalbny

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The tolls are usually very easy, 1.50 Euro a day for the transponder rental.  The tolls are put on the credit card that you leave on hold with rental company.  JP ran into a weird situation and it sounds like they made it right with the refund in the end.  A lot of stress that you didn't need though.

 

Our last trip, we were charged about 15 Euro for the tolls on a 5 day drive.  Not sure how accurate that is, as sometimes the transponder beeped going under a toll counter, other times not.  The tolls are either booths like you have in the Northeast US (E-Z pass), just go through the booth with the big green 'V'm usually on the leftat about 25kms/hour and it records you; most are just a series of overhead sensors that record you, you don't have to slow down.

 

The roads are well paved, and pretty empty away from the bigger cities.  I've driven in a few European countries and I found this the easiest, lowest stressed driving.

 

https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/the-ultimate-guide-to-toll-roads-in-portugal/

 

Ginja-  you often see it in little shops, you can get a shot in a chocolate cup for 1 euro.  Nice.  The locals told me that it is good for what ails you.  I always felt better after some.

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2 hours ago, ural guy said:

The tolls are usually very easy, 1.50 Euro a day for the transponder rental.  The tolls are put on the credit card that you leave on hold with rental company.  JP ran into a weird situation and it sounds like they made it right with the refund in the end.  A lot of stress that you didn't need though.

 

Our last trip, we were charged about 15 Euro for the tolls on a 5 day drive.  Not sure how accurate that is, as sometimes the transponder beeped going under a toll counter, other times not.  The tolls are either booths like you have in the Northeast US (E-Z pass), just go through the booth with the big green 'V'm usually on the leftat about 25kms/hour and it records you; most are just a series of overhead sensors that record you, you don't have to slow down.

 

The roads are well paved, and pretty empty away from the bigger cities.  I've driven in a few European countries and I found this the easiest, lowest stressed driving.

 

https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/the-ultimate-guide-to-toll-roads-in-portugal/

 

Ginja-  you often see it in little shops, you can get a shot in a chocolate cup for 1 euro.  Nice.  The locals told me that it is good for what ails you.  I always felt better after some.

Good to know. Thanks for your link!

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JP-  Do you use a translator ap when you order meals?  Your pics and descriptions look like you ate quite well, and I don't remember seeing dish descriptions like you wound up with...I sometime find menus frustrating and I'm not adventurous enough.

 

One place, I wasn't sure if they were serving food, a bit of a language barrier, then they just brought out 2 big pots to show us what was on the menu.  We went with it, and had a great meal.  

 

We wound up following in your footsteps in Lamego as well, visiting the castle and museum.  The guy at the castle was so nice, then was urging us to go to the museum, which was free also.  It took us longer than it should to go from one to the other, and the museum lady said that her colleague had called wondering if we had made it......anyway the museum is small, as JP said, but very nice when given a private guide.  You are on a glass floor above an area excavated to show 3 different time periods, as you go deeper into the strata.  Pretty interesting, but what really impressed me is the peoples pride.  The museum hasn't been open long, and it's November, and raining, and these people are just happy that you went off the beaten path and are trying to learn a bit about their part of the world. I got that vibe a lot in Portugal.

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