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January 2020

Portugal has no entrance exam.  But it is sneaking up on 900 years of existence.  Like a good glass of wine there are many flavors, and hues Last year we offered our tongue-in-cheek Portuguese citizenship exam. It gained a few comments, and stumped a few people. As a result, here is the 2nd round of “So you think you know Portugal.” And the questions just got a tad harder. Read more →


Madeira has never been easier to get to. TAP Portugal offers easy connections from Lisbon – and with non-stop service to Portugal from 9 US cities on five airlines, getting a connection is easy. TAP now has a 1 stop from Boston, DC, New York and Newark, Miami, Chicago and San Francisco. It is a 1.5-hour flight from Lisbon, Porto or the Azores and it takes about 15 minutes to fly between the two islands in the group—Madeira and Porto Santo. Madeira’s Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport and the Porto Santo Airport serve the archipelago.  The airport on Madeira is about a 30-minute drive to Funchal, the archipelago’s capital.  Madeira has also become a major stop for cruise ships. Read more →


Going North is also worthwhile when exploring Portugal. Make Porto your base and visit Northern cities like Braga or Chaves, or drive along the Douro River into Spain. And if you’re looking to be in touch with nature, venture in to the mountains and explore Portugal’s only National Park, Peneda-Gerês. Here you’ll find paradise-like waterfalls, challenging hiking trails and rewarding views. The surrounding towns and villages are good options for a more comfortable night’s sleep. And another mountain destination is Serra da Estrela, in the northern countryside Beira Interior, which is also close to quaint villages like Piódão. Read more →


Not all castles are the same. In Portugal, most are walled defensive structures built to protect a region. They were built around a main keep, and housed soldiers placed there to defend them. But you also had forts and fortified palaces. Portugal has hundreds of cables, but very few walled palaces, a mix of the defensive and the high living. Most date from the 15thcentury, when King D. Afonso V gave the nobility unprecedented powers, and his wars in North Africa and expansion of trade brought wealth to Portugal enriching the noble class. All the palaces here date from that brief period, as Portugal transitioned from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance. Read more →