We arrived in Amsterdam by 10:30, flew KLM for the first time and they did not disappoint us. We were on time, well fed and the girls slept.

The start of our trip was a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam, we left our hand luggage in the baggage storage lockers, picked up the train tickets and settled in for the ride in to the city. At which time Sean, asked if I had the hop on hop off tickets. No, they would be in the locker in the airport. Thank goodness he had scanned all the pre-purchased stuff and we were able to print them at the bus company's office from his phone.

The girls enjoyed the city, we didn't really have a lot of time to do anything except the bus and the water cruise.

We walked through the streets got a flavour of the city, ate some yummy treats and headed back to the airport. Mariah has caught on early to some of the fundamentals of travel. Eat when there is food, use the toilet when there is one and sleep when ever possible. Back at the airport I met a lovely lady. Deolinda lives in Coimbra a spot which we are headed in a few weeks. We plan on meeting up, when we are there as she works for the university as a engineering professor. Coimbra University is known as the Oxford of Portugal. Its students uniforms inspired JK Rowlings, Hogwarts uniforms, I have read a lot about the library there as well.

We arrived in Lisbon by 10:35 and was met by our driver. The Lisbon airport in right in the city so as we drove to our apartment we were able to get a taste of what was to be explored. The buildings are lovely, and everyone that we have met have been so wanting to chat and tell us about their country. Our home for the next few days is in a quaint little apartment right in the heart of the city. We are very excited to get out and explore tomorrow. So far everything is perfect.

view from our apartment in Lisbon

Now if I am going to recommend anything for family travelers it would be bring your child's friend with you. We are lucky as our daughter's friend is easy going and is happy to go along with the torture that a family trip in a hot country can bring. Our first full day, out which was yesterday, Sean, and I broke some of our own cardinal rules: First mistake was to set out for the day at 1:30 pm (Everyone knows not to do that in a hot country); 2nd -walking up hill at the hottest time of the day with teenagers is not advisable (there is not enough gelato to comfort them). So we are forgetting yesterday and moving on.

Today we set off at a decent hour in the morning, bought a day pass for transit and promised them gelato whenever possible. They managed to go steady for 10 hours, truly a record for us.

We checked a lot off our to do list today. We headed to Belem, this is far away from the centre of Lisbon and requires a few changes on the metro and trams.

Best part? No walking! I did have plans to buy a few pasteis de Belem, but the line up was pretty big. I do know that this is the original spot for them, but we had tried them in a few spots already, including Amsterdam.

So we opted to not line up and just visit the sites we came to see, the Torre of Belem, Monument to the Discoveries and mosteiro dos jerónimos. The girls had hoped to see a bit of sand and beach in Belem, but it was not to be.

Some observations of our day. Sundays are way busier then Saturdays, most small restaurants only accept cash or debit cards. If you are travelling from Canada that means cash. So use your credit card when ever possible, as you will need your cash. Always have a .50 and a 1 euro coin for the toilet. The public transit system works very well is clean and safe and efficient So far we find Portugal very very affordable. The fruit and veg are wonderful and not GMO. Strawberries taste the way you remember as a child and watermelon has seeds. Buying groceries at the local market seems like it is 1975. I went to get juice and milk this morning and got change from a 2 euro coin. The people working in the stores and restaurants are very friendly and speak a bit or a lot of English. Philippa speaks amazing Portuguese, she consults her little book then rattles off what we want. The three of us stand there in awe and smile like we taught her how to do that. We find it best that I stick with English. But I have figured out obrigado/da which is thank you.

We took the #28 trolley up to the Alfama, we had chose to walk it yesterday and that was not a good idea as it is up hill both ways.

In fact, unless you are at the waterfront you are always going up hill in Lisbon. The trolleys are the original old ones and are beautiful. They go through the narrow winding streets of the Alfama and you can get up close and personal with all the beautiful tiled houses.

This is our final day in Lisbon and we have had a lovely visit and are off to the countryside tomorrow

  • Sue Madill

The Madills are about to set off on their next adventure. This time we are going to Portugal with a stop over in Amsterdam and hopefully a few day trips to Spain. This adventure is a bit different this time, Philippa is taking her friend Mariah. This is a huge big deal as I am not sure that I would let anyone take my children out of the country, we are very fortunate that Mariah's parents are trusting us with their 1st born. So over the next 28 days we have to make sure we have all our paperwork in order.

We invite you to come along with us for the month as we share our experience. The template is basically the same as our other trips. I have used the UK site for lodging, Holiday Lettings. It is now connected to Trip Advisor so easy to access and navigate. We have used this site for many years and have had nothing but positive experiences.. We have booked 5 different homes though out Portugal for 3 to 7 days each. Sean has the car set up for the month through Discover Car Hire.

Now I must go get the bags out of the basement and start packing


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