The year before I went to Portugal, I was facing the big 6-0 and wasn’t thrilled. I was looking for a physical challenge to make me feel less over-the-hill. I could no longer run like I once could, so training for a race was out of the question. So I researched walking.
My daughter Katie had walked portions of the Camino de Santiago in Spain several years ago, and had always wanted to go back and hike it in its entirety. We looked into that, first my husband and I, and later Katie and I, but we found that would take over a month to complete. We decided we didn’t need THAT much of a challenge.
We were thinking about walking just part of the Camino when I ran into a woman at the camera counter of our local drug store. I was getting my passport photo taken and she was picking up pictures of a recent trip, a walking trip to Portugal with two of her grandchildren. She said Portugal was beautiful, that they had a wonderful time, and that I should really check it out.
There are two types of walking trips, guided and non-guided or self-guided. On a self-guided trip, a tour company plans your route, books your hotels, and transports your bags from place to place. All we would have to do is walk, and we would be on our own. I mentioned it to Katie and soon we were planning our trip to Portugal. Meantime my husband opted out after finding out he needed knee surgery. It was now a mother/daughter trip. And since Katie works in school psychology and had to wait until her school year finished, the trip would end up being right around my 60th birthday, which is in June. Things began falling into place.
Picking what part of Portugal to walk was tough. It all sounded inviting. We ended up choosing Sintra Heritage and Coastal Trails, through Macs Adventures. This tour would begin just west of Lisbon in the beach town of Cascais and ended in the beautiful mountain top city of Sintra. It would include some coastal hikes as well as inland walks. The Sintra Heritage and Coastal Trails was considered easy to moderate on the difficulty scale, and included daily hikes of between 6 and 10 miles. This sounded do-able.
We opted to stay in Lisbon for two days before beginning our 8 day, 7 night walking adventure, which Macs handled for us. We figured we could see some of Lisbon while getting over our jet lag. (Highly recommended, by the way.) They picked a wonderful hotel near the center of town.
I booked a hotel near the airport for our last day, the day after our walking would end. They had indoor and outdoor pools and a spa if we wanted total relaxation, or we could do more sightseeing, depending on how we were feeling. I thought it would be a nice way to end the trip, having a little down time before flying home.
We had the option of starting any day we wanted, so we looked at flights, which then determined the rest. All of our arrangements were made online, from the flights to booking the tour itself.
Once there, Portugal Nature Trails was the local company who handled getting us set up with maps, GPS, and everything else we needed for our walks.
All the rest, like our time in Lisbon, was researched and set up by yours truly, who spend months learning all there was to know about this area of Portugal with it’s cobblestone streets, steep hills, and majestic beauty.
Things that helped me in my research were google searches and my local library. I found many books on Portugal as well as many on just Lisbon. What my library didn’t have I requested through the inter-library loan system, and usually had within a few days. And of course there is so much information online it’s almost overwhelming.
For More Information:
A typical day on the trail: A Typical Day on the Trail
Portugal food and drink: Food and Drink of Portugal
Portugal Hotels: Portugal Hotels
Portugal Palaces and Attractions: Portugal Palaces and Attractions