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Beyond Paris

French Leave (to Lisbon)


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Castles and ruins in Sintra, Portugal.

I don’t normally go on vacation unless it’s “work” related or back to the US to see friends and family, but I haven’t taken a day off work since last May, and after a few “you’re really pale” comments and a prescription from my doctor to “Go on vacation somewhere warm and don’t do anything” I finally escaped the wet and chilly city of Paris — sans laptop — for a week’s break in Lisbon, Portugal, with my friend Amy (who came to escape Minneapolis weather). It was supposed to be raining the day we arrived, but we never had one drop. A bit overcast the first few days while we toured around old Lisbon, and burning hot sun the last two days when we visited Sintra, Belem, and the beach at Cascais. Lisbon is a crumbly city far past its glory days, but still beautiful with its old tiled facades, winding streets (where San Francisco style trolleys make the rounds), and refreshingly inexpensive food/drink and taxis. Getting around was super easy (and cheap) with the metro, trolley, bus and train. Highly recommended, our two hotels, the Four Seasons Ritz (expensive but worth it for the rooftop fitness center, spa, and the amazing views) and Pouso dos Anjos (the fun and funky budget option with private gardens).

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Being on vacation, I let Amy (and Rick Steves’ Guide) lead the way.

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Drinking a 1975 Porto (at 11am…I love vacation!) 

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Some of the beautiful tiled facades.

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And a peacock hanging out.

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A monument to the great sea explorers of the past…in the background the April 25 Bridge (inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge and named for their Liberation Day, April 25, 1974) and the Christ statue that inspired the famous Christo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro.

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Yes, I got burnt, but it was worth it!

PS: Many Portuguese families emigrated to France during the dictatorship that ruled from 1910 until 1974, and now make up the largest community of foreign origin in France (Algerians make up the second largest). Read the interesting article about it here.

PPS: “French Leave” is actually a phrase meaning “to leave without permission or announcing one’s departure”. Read about it here.

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