Sarahbeth experiences Portugal!

My first European experience took me to Portugal with a group of meeting planners from around the country.  Showcasing the magnificent hotels and meeting spaces the coastal town of Sintra and bustling city of Lisbon have to offer along with educating us on the country’s past, present and future was the goal.  Who knew this little country, so often overlooked, would be overflowing with such charm, history and beautiful scenery?

Our adventure started in the towns of Cascais and Sintra.  With breathtaking views of the sea and a “medieval” village, these coastal towns on the western tip of the country reflect the different ages which have produced their history as well as the history of the country as a whole.  Our first night was spent in Sintra at the Penha Longa Hotel & Golf Resort. The fifteenth century monastery has been converted into a luxurious and exclusive resort.  Situated on a national reserve, Penha Longa offers well-appointed guest rooms, two world-class golf courses, five exceptional dining options, a recently remodeled spa and an abundance of indoor and outdoor recreational activities.  Needless to say, after a long night of traveling and day of sightseeing, the beds were heavenly!

The next day we moved into the bustling city of Lisbon where we checked into the Sheraton Lisboa, an updated, contemporary property that has definitely “gone green.”  With energy saving updates at every turn, a good briefing by the front desk staff was needed in order to know how to keep lights and water working in our room!
We spent the next few days exploring the city and sightseeing such historic places as St. Jorge’s Castle, which boasts one of the best views of the entire city and Nations Park, one of the most cosmopolitan and fashionable areas in Lisbon.  Kais, located in the harbor area is an impressive space…. a former warehouse turned contemporary, upscale and not to mention delicious restaurant!  Some of the other restaurants worth noting are Agua e Sal, where the chef uses an old-fashioned charcoal “parrilla” oven and prepares your meal right in front of you and Restaurant Tavares, the place to “see and be seen.”

Touring the city during the day in a GPS guided go-cart was a highlight of our adventure!  We navigated the carts through the busy streets of Lisbon, while a “guide” told us where to go and what we were seeing along the way.  The GPS “guide” spoke through the radio and gave us the history of the city and sites as we drove along.  Very cool and tons of fun!
Portugal was everything I expected it to be and so much more.  Overpowered by some of the more grandiose countries, Portugal is often overlooked while visiting Europe but believe me, it’s a destination that should not be missed!


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