Not really but it sure feels that way.
14.03.2011 - 01.04.2011
Yes, pulling out my hair has been part of my travel plan. But I may get to Portugal with some of it intact; or wear a wig. Either way, we're still going.
So out of my $9000.00: I've purchased cheap airline tickets( with insurance- can't forget that) for about $4100.00. We leave March 14 and return April 01,a total of 17 days.
With that done, I can now plan our trip. This part has not been very easy, but this is what our itinerary looks like.
First our flights:
From Vancouver BC, to Montreal on to Brussels and then arriving in Porto, Portugal.
All in all, 21 hrs. Our departure from Portugal will be different. We are leaving from Lisbon in the south. There is no extra cost in this and doing things this way will give us time for many more adventures. We will be traveling from north to south on the Green Coast, to the Interior, and then to the Silver coast. The cities we will visit will be Porto, Aveiro, Coimbra, Sintra,and Lisbon. See if you can find that on the map.
I want Kevin and the kids to see as much as possible. So with that in mind, we will start our trip in Porto.
I consider Porto to be the northern capital, since it is the second largest city in Portugal. Porto is one of the oldest European centers, and registered as a World Heritage Site. Its settlement dates back several centuries, even before it was an outpost of the Roman Empire. That's the thing about Portugal; wherever you go, the landscape and its people have been touched by the great (and not so great) empires, and it's wonderful to have a glimpse of that.
As of today, we have accommodation for all of our stops except for one. We decided that the cheapest way for us is to stay in Hostels or B&Bs. Also, in the bigger touristy areas, you can rent an apartment for a few days or a week. Let me tell you, these places are to die for.
A piece of advice: check different booking companies for best rates,sites like hostels.com or Travellerspoint.com . Rates vary quite a bit, so do your homework.
DO NOT BOOK WITH THE HOSTELS DIRECTLY. This was one of my biggest mistakes.It ended up costing me more then booking with an agent online or a 5 star hotel.
It all started when I was looking for place to stay in Lisbon. There are a thousand and one places to stay. But I came across a hostel that was giving the third night free. I thought this was a fantastic a deal. I emailed them and got the details. I was told I could send my MC number by email (I don’t think so) or transfer the amount of exactly 78, 80 euro or $ 106.00 CA dollars to their account. So I got all the details and that is what I did, no problem, I even paid the $25.00 transfer fee (I almost choked on that one). Believe me, when I say it only gets better. So I waited and in Lisbon they waited. We were in contact with each other every day and after three days, I went down to my bank. They told me this was normal. They sent every thing to the main branch and from there on they had no control. You may ask as I did, in this day of great technology, how hard is it to wire money from one bank to another?
The revelation to that question will soon come to light. To make a very long story shorter, I received an email with a bank draft showing that the hostel in Lisbon received (and I kid you not) 24,28 euro or $33.00 CA of my original 78, euros.
Here is where the story gets good.
What on earth had happened to the rest? I got on the phone and called the bank in Portugal. Nothing. The Manager at the Hostel assured me that they deal with transfers all the time and this had never happened before. I asked her why there was a 52,52 euro charge on the invoice. This was her reply: The money had gone through (NOW WAIT FOR IT) The Bank of the Holy Spirit... You heard right. You know I don’t mind taking a loss here and there, but for the money to go to heaven and then back down to Portugal and I'm the one that is charged, well this is just a bit much. In fact it was $75.00 dollars too much.
So here is my lesson. I’m sure you have heard it before. Expect what is unexpected and you might be ready for anything.
I can’t emphasize enough, do your homework. There are billions of pieces of data on the net you can go through, so, pick what fits your plan.
When it comes to kids, they like to know where, when and how all at once.
As I plan this tripI have to remeber that it’s not only for us adults, it’s also for Tiago and Carolina. We want to find kid friendly things to do with them.
We look forward to sharing our adventures with you.
Please leave a comment or message. It's always good to here from you.
Maria and Kevin (editor)