Our Spring Travel Plans
Note: Updated After Portugal Blogs Completed
We had an awesome 10 week adventure that finished 2016. Then the plan was to head somewhere warm to escape the Toronto winter. But that never happened. It was a good thing that we had a reasonable winter in Toronto. But we were ready to escape our hibernation! We started this 10 week odyssey with a 3 week trans-Altantic cruise with Oceania Cruises. This got us to Lisbon, Portugal. From there we enjoyed 4 weeks in Portugal and Spain for the spring.
A Hop To Miami Before Our Cruise
A short flight to Miami gave us 2 days in Miami to relax before we board our ship. We stayed at the Miami Intercontinental. As IHG loyalty members, we spoiled ourselves with concierge service. We have spent time in Miami before. There was great shopping and lots to do.
Once boarded on our cruise ship, we settled in for 21 days of luxury. We have cruised with Oceania on numerous occasions and look forward to the great food and the awesome customer service we have come to expect. This was a great way to begin a trip that got us to Portugal and Spain for the spring.
Starting With A Transatlantic Cruise
The first leg of our cruise was a mini Caribbean vacation. We returned to 4 ports that we visited on a previous Eastern Caribbean cruise with Oceania. There was one day each in Puerto Rico, Antigua, St Barts and Barbados. We enjoyed the sun and Caribbean hospitality that we saw on our previous trips.
We then headed for 4 days across the Atlantic Ocean. While I normally do not have a problem on the water, I had my bag packed with all kinds of sea sickness remedies! We knew there would be lots to do on the cruise ship for sea days!
Our first ports when we landed were in Port Verde and then Senegal. On our last awesome adventure we stopped a few times in ports on the east coast of Africa. This trip we got a little taste of the west coast of Africa.
Enjoying Portugal In May
We were very excited to be in Portugal and Spain for the spring. A lot of thought went into the stops for our 4 weeks in Portugal. But we also needed to plan the route. We finally decided that we would start south and work our way north.
Next we got a car and headed south to the Algarve region for 7 days. One night we stopped in the mountains at Monchique. The rest of the time was spread in two different regions on the coast in the Algarve.
Returning to Lisbon, we then flew to the Azores. We had heard so much about the Azores from Cathy @RoarLoud that we couldn’t possibly miss a trip to these outer islands. We had 6 days on Sao Miguel and then 4 days on Faial. There was a long list of things we wanted to do in the Azores.
Our flight back from the Azores took us into Porto. We explored the city of Porto for 4 days before we picked up a car and wandered in the Duoro Valley. We had considered a Duoro Valley river cruise but left the planning until far too late. It surprised us how many boats were on the river at this time of the year. And all were full. We looked at a one or two day cruise but finally decided we would have more flexibility by car.
Finishing Up With Spain For 3 Weeks
We have been to Spain several times and have loved every visit. This trip we wanted to pick up some new places in Spain. We started our Spanish explorations in Seville. From there we went to Cordoba. We were entranced by Granada with its Moorish influences and Seville and Cordoba equally entranced us.
We will then went back on the train for a short stop in Madrid. I was still a bit leery about return to Madrid. The last time we were there I was robbed! But it is a beautiful city and a gateway when you travel around Spain by train.
Heading Home After Portugal and Spain For The Spring
It was a short stop in Lisbon before we headed back to Toronto after being in Portugal and Spain for the spring. While 7 weeks of land travel may seem daunting, it passed by quickly. We just made sure we got all the planning done in advance!
As we have noted before, one way trans-Atlantic business fares are ridiculously high. We had originally planned to travel with Icelandic Air with a stopover in Iceland. Their one way rates were reasonable. But ultimately we decided that we wanted to enjoy Iceland when we were not burned out from 10 weeks of travel.
We got really lucky again and found a great deal on business class tickets from Lisbon to Toronto. After finding the great deal on First Class Emirates tickets on our last trip, I was again pleasantly surprised. Because we were somewhat flexible on when we could travel, there was one day when the rates were low. We hit “BUY” and planned our last weeks around that date.
It was another great adventure. We started with a luxury cruise before we explored Portugal and Spain for the spring. There was so many great stops. And so many new blogs to write!
Have you had the chance to enjoy Portugal and Spain for the spring? Is there something we must see on our trip?