As regular readers will know, once a month we feature a Province, State or Country that represents the birthplace of at least one or two of our Amintro members. This month we’ve chosen Portugal because in many ways, Portugal is pretty perfect, particularly for those who are 50+ or maybe even retired. There are plenty of reasons why we proudly proclaim this region as perfect and today we’ll spend a bit of time talking about just a few of them! Lisbon, the capital city, is one of the oldest cities in the world and architecturally there is so much to see both here and across the country. Portugal is known for its wine, as an excellent surfing destination (yes surfing!) and for those of a certain religious persuasion – it’s also the location of the Miracle of Fatima. Portugal is the world’s largest producer of cork and that seems kind of appropriate for a country that produces so much wine and port! Finally, the Algarve, located in the southernmost area of the country, was found according to one study at least, to be one of the best places in the world to retire so that’s work talking about! These are just a few of the many reasons why we think you’ll agree Portugal is pretty perfect indeed.
Starting off in Lisbon
Arriving in Lisbon you’ll find a capital city that is one of the oldest in the world. It has a number of museums representing both ancient and modern art. They even have a museum dedicated to the largest collection of royal coaches in the world! It is also home to the oldest bookstore in the world, which, for a word nerd/book nerd like me is a “must-see.” Portugal is peppered with UNESCO World Heritage Sites and two of these are located in Lisbon: the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. The Targus River runs through the city and talking about this river reminds us of the many architectural wonders located in Portugal – specifically in this case, the Vasco de Gama Bridge. At over 17 kms long, it’s the longest bridge in Europe and one of the longest in the world. Lisbon is also a colorful city with its famous “Pink” Street and the sheer volume of historical yellow trolleys used by tourists and locals alike as they make their way around town.
Welcome to Porto
Next stop on our tour of Portugal is Porto – a destination for wine lovers. Known predominantly for its Port, a type of fortified wine named for the region, you can take a combined wine and river tour along the Duoro. Madeira Wine is also produced here. It’s similar in style to Port in that Madeira too is a type of fortified wine. It is used often as either an after-dinner sipping wine or chilled and served with the starter course of a meal. The city of Porto is also famous for “Azulejos” or tiles. These aren’t just any old tiles however. They are beautiful and decorative works of art, quite often in a brilliant and distinctive blue and white colour. Many historical buildings will feature entire walls of azulejos depicting stories or historical events. They can be found both indoors and outdoors and yes, they are often found underfoot as well – inlaid on streets throughout the region.
Next stop, Algarve
In no particular order (we don’t play favorites at Amintro!) we’ll now share a little bit about the Algarve, the specific region from the retirement study we mentioned in our opening paragraph. If you’re thinking about retirement, or even just planning a “bucket list” trip, the Algarve in September is a wonderful location to pick up a long-term rental and hang around exploring for a while. It covers a huge portion of the country and is located at the southernmost tip of Portugal. For the beach lover amongst us, here you will find approximately 150+kms of beachfront! While the population tends to increase significantly in the summer months (as in it triples!) by September the place has emptied out a bit but the temperatures are still superb and typically remain so throughout September and in to October as well. If you’re a lover of all things nutritious, fruit grows in abundance here, as do almonds and of course seafood is plentiful.
A little bit about the Azores
If mainland Portugal isn’t to your liking or you’re looking for something a little quieter, head to the Azores. They are considered an autonomous region and consist of nine volcanic islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1300kms west of continental Portugal. Tourism, farming and fishing are the main occupations here and both English and Portuguese are spoken by many of the locals. Here too the climate is fairly temperate, again particularly during the non-peak travel times so feel free to avoid the summer rush of kiddos at the beach and travel in September or October instead.
Surfing in Portugal
Finally, because we are the last thing from ageist at Amintro (because ANYone, at ANY age can do ANYthing) Portugal is well–known to those “in the know,” as a superb surfing destination. It literally has one of the longest coastlines in the world and offers a variety of surfing options including: tube, beach and point break waves. Surf conditions are suitable for beginner, novice and experienced surfers. Fun fact; while you might think the answer is “in Hawaii,” the tallest wave ever surfed in the world was actually found in Portugal! If your bucket list contains the words “learn to surf” then Portugal would be a great place to visit! If all of this doesn’t scream, “Portugal is pretty perfect” to you – we’re not sure what else to say. Chime in if you’re originally from Portugal and let us know your favorite place to visit and/or what you recommend to friends – maybe even friends you met through Amintro. We’d love to hear from you!
Written by Sheralyn Roman