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London, Portugal, Paris, Peak District..Part 2

September 21, 2014

After an adventurous start to the trip, we arrived in Lisbon. Just seeing this picture of Mom, Dad, and Aunt Jane walking off the plane makes me desperate to go back to Portugal. There are only a few places in the world that I have fallen in love with immediately, but Portugal was magical. And it wasn’t just because of Ben’s incredible proposal, or because we got to spend a wonderful week with my parents and aunt and uncle. There was something about Portugal that you couldn’t help falling in love with. In addition to being beautiful and having a certain feel that is difficult to describe, it was also a really easy place to travel. Call me crazy, but I like a place with gorgeous weather, friendly people, cheap wine, reasonable prices, delicious food (which was nearly all dairy free!), clear road signs, and clean bathrooms! It made travelling there delightful and almost entirely stress-free. It also helped that my mom and aunt had done lots of research in advance, and had planned a wonderful itinerary for us!

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Anyway, after saying that it was a nearly stress free trip, I need to backtrack slightly, because it didn’t start off entirely stress free. First, when we got to the car rental area, the company we used was nowhere to be seen. We were directed to an area with people holding up little signs. None of the signs said our names or the company’s name, but when we asked around, one of the people holding up someone else’s name said that she was there to meet us. In spite of feeling slightly confused, she did know all about our reservation and have the paperwork ready for us, so we followed her and filled in all of the forms. After this was finished, we followed her outside to our minivan. The problem was, this ‘minivan’ was a Fiat Doblo….which probably should have fit either six adults or the luggage for six adults…not both. Thankfully, we had an engineer (thanks Uncle Steve!) with us, and everyone chipped in to cleverly position the bags so that we could squeeze (and I do mean squeeze) all of us and our luggage in. We had to go to extreme lengths, for example, tying the luggage in with a seatbelt to avoid it toppling over on the passengers. And after one journey, we realised that the back of the car had popped open slightly. I can’t believe it, but I don’t think that we took any photos of the car, on its own or packed with people and luggage.

My dad had kindly volunteered to be the main driver, and as soon as the doors were closed to the little Fiat Doblo, we were on our way to Sintra. We spent a while at a gas station trying to fill the car up with diesel along the route, but then we really were on our way. It was a short drive, and we totally lucked out with a free parking spot just outside our little hotel. We piled out of the car and went to have lunch and explore until our rooms were ready.

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We stayed at the Hotel Nova Sintra, which was gorgeous and spotless, and the owner and staff were incredibly welcoming and accommodating.

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After checking into the hotel, Ben and I explored more of the town, and my parents and aunt and uncle hiked up the very steep hill that you can see in the picture above (partly behind the umbrellas).

Sintra was a very scenic city, and we soaked up the sights, the sunshine, and the dairy-free gelato!

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After a fun day out exploring, Ben and I picked up some food and Portugese wine from the local supermarket, and we all had a picnic on the terrace….complete with Ben’s first taste of double stuff oreos!

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The picture above shows the hill that Mom, Dad, and Aunt Jane climbed up (although it was even higher than it looked and the ground was far below the level of the picture).

And, as the sun was setting, I couldn’t resist requesting lots of group photos.

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The hiking group with the hill they conquered behind. 🙂

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After a fun day and a much-needed night of sleep, we woke up to an amazing breakfast spread and planned our route for the next day.

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The ultimate destination was Obidos, but there was lots to see along the way…

 

 

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