Spring: Portugal & Paris | Fall: Italy

Portugal & Paris

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The Air France direct flight from Vancouver to Paris got us to Europe, and then we took a flight to Lisbon. Despite the strike in Paris on the day we landed there, arrival and transfer was uneventful. The reporting of the situation in Paris at the time, flooding, riots, strikes did not impact us, nor the many people in Paris when we where there. Life in Paris goes on.

Picking up our car at the Lisbon airport we drove to the town of Sintra, located about 30 minutes out of Lisbon. Best to have a short drive after a long flight.

Sintra

Sintra is scenic, but chocked full of tourists and hard to get around other than by foot. I know there was more to see there, but it was impossible to get around

Porto

From Sintra we drove to Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. The historical centre is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Porto is an ancient port steeped in history and tradition. The write-ups said there is real atmospher and there was, we really enjoyed our stay there. It was larger than expected, but impressive scenes and a very interesting city.

Duoro Valley

From Porto we drove to the Duoro Wine Region. Stunning landscapes. I do not think we will ever forget the view from our hotel of the valley. The vineyards are just etched into the steep cliffs of the valley.

Lagos on the Algarve Coast

From the Duoro it was on to Lagos on the Algarve Coast. About a five hour drive.

Lisbon

We ended our visit to Portugal with a stay in Lisbon. It was wonderful. Karen found the most elegant apartment for us, it was a real treat.

Paris

We took an Air France flight to Paris where we stay five days. Once again we have our apartment just off rue Montorgueil - an area we considered one of the best areas in Paris.

Italy

The fall trip came right away and again we flew the non-stop Vancouver to Paris Air France flight. When we booked the flight we had a slighly different itinerary planned. So no, we arrived Rome, and took a flight up to Venice.

The plan was to pick up a car. What we thought was a seven passenger intermediate vehicle turned out to be a mini-bus. Way to big to comfortably drive through small towns, and totally impossible to fit into the small parking spaces. A fair amount of effort, countless phone calls, finally after about five days we were able to return the mini-bus and exchange it for a smaller car.

We left Venice to explore in the Veneto Region, and more specifically the area that is mainly in the Province of Padova. This would include Padova,, Vincenza, Verona and Este. Our base was the town of Baone, This is the prosecco wine region. A small town with a population of just over 3,000. It is located on the edge of the Parco Regionale dei Coli Euganei. It has the highest hills of the Po River Plain.

Prosecco DOC is produced in nine provinces of Italy that cross the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions. The best, "Superiore", is only made in the Treviso province in the Veneto region on the hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, or the Asolo Procescco Superiore near the town of Asolo. I guess we will be able to test them all! We found that if you bring your emply bottle to the cattina, they fill it up with prosecco on tap for 1.80E. Loved it!

Chianti, in Tuscany was our next stop. We returned to stay at the Borgo Pietrafitta just outside of Castellina in Chianti. We have stayed here a number of times, and it is one of our favorite locations in which to stay while in Tuscany. An easy drive down to the Crete Senesi for photography, and easy access to Siena, Florence and other scenic towns of Tuscany.

Rome

We can't be in Italy without some time in Rome so the final five days were in a city we love at "our" apartment. A trip to Novelli Pen topped off the stay.