A Quick Trip to Portugal in the Winter

Portugal

My husband and I had the opportunity to snag some ultra-discounted tickets to go see his mother in Portugal. That doesn’t happen every day—usually we have to save for years. But this was too good to pass up, especially since we had a couple prescriptions we needed to fill that I’d heard cost a lot less there. So we stocked up on food for our college kid who lives with us, sent our sixteen-year-old to a friend’s, told our eight-year-old’s school she was leaving, and packed our bags. Lisbon, of course, had to bring her stuffed animals that she can’t sleep without.

My first clue that this wasn’t our usual trip was when they changed our first trip to three planes instead of two. They ended up sending us west across the US, when we wanted to go east toward Europe. Eventually in San Francisco we were finally turned and headed the right way. The flights were really awful and long this time, and no food was offered until the flight from Newark to Lisbon. Fortunately, we were prepared for that. My daughter hates most plane food, so we always have to think ahead. 

A Lot of Layers

Another thing I hadn’t thought about too much when scooping up these great tickets was the January weather in Portugal. While it’s a lot warmer than the snow we’re dealing with, it was definitely not beach weather! And there just happened to be a cold front all but a few of the ten days we were there. The second I got to my mother-in-law’s house, I was glad I’d packed so many layers. I lived in Portugal during an entire winter once, and I remembered being cold. Layers are best so you can pile them on or take them off, but I missed my winter jacket some of the days! Below you can see me taking a selfie in three jacket layers plus a shirt or two. My husband and I joked that it was colder inside my MIL’s apartment than outside—and that was true in the beginning. But fortunately, she had a few electric heaters, and we got along fine. Well, except the once we turned them up too high and made the power turn off. Yeah, that did happen.

Teyla at the Parque de Paz

Low-key

One plus is that we did things we didn’t ordinarily do when we go in the summer. And since we only had the youngest child with us, who, like us, speaks Portuguese (from her dual immersion classes at school) and doesn’t have a lot of high expectations that teenagers often do, it was all low-key. Below (and the picture of me above) were taken at one of our favorite places, the Parque de Paz in Almada. Of course we had to go see our old friends the pigeons, geese, and ducks. But we had a surprise—this time there were also seagulls. Thousands of them. I’ve never seen them there before (see the arrow in the picture below).  Maybe with not as many fishermen and people on the beach, they were looking for food.

Seagulls at the Parque de Paz

Exploring More of the Parque

Exploring the parque

Lisbon Climbing a Wall

Lisbon climbing the wall

The Beach

Of course we had to go see our beach, the Praia de Sereia (Mermaid Beach), even though the water was COLD. Well, Lisbon did fall in once. We ended up going to the beach three times!

praia de Sereia

Lisbon’s First Visit to the Hairdresser

Lisbon also got to go to the hairdresser for the very first time with her grandmother while Mom and Dad had lunch in Lisbon. We got back just in time to snap the pictures! Here are the ladies all beautified. Unfortunately, the new do lasted about an hour. Mostly because she begged to go back to the beach, but also because it’s humid there.

Baby Angel Lost a Foot

We also stopped by the Convento dos Capuchos (a convent near the Costa da Caprica), and Lisbon wanted to take this picture. She thinks the statue looks like her second cousin (and she’s right)!

Monastery

Sanctuario de Cristo Rei

Since it’s so close to my MIL’s house, the Christ the King monument is an easy visit. But we actually haven’t been to the Christ the King monument for more than a decade, but kids always love it, so we decided to take Lisbon. But it’s so changed from what I remember! The area has a huge paved parking lot now, other smaller monuments, and there is even a restaurant. I find I still love going up there to survey the surrounding area of Almada and Cova da Piedade. You can see my Mother-in-Law’s apartment from the top (and vice-versa), but it’s too small to point it out. You can see it was getting a little dark.

Almada from Cristo Rei  

Lisbon and her Dad

Lisbon and TJ at Cristo Rei

Lisbon and Me

They light the statue up at night.

Lisbon and Teyla at Cristo ei

With Grandma

family at Cristo Rei  

Night Fell Fast

Night at Cristo Rei  

The April 25th Bridge

I took this picture near the Cristo Rei monument.

Ponte 25 de Abril Portgual

Was it Worth Going in Winter?

Absolutely. Yes, the layovers and flights were generally terrible with our bargain tickets, and it was colder than I remembered, but it was still fun. My mother-in-law’s cooking is great, eating mil folhas any time is a wonderful perk, and best of all, there wasn’t any snow. Plus, the prescriptions I stocked up on there paid for one and a half of the tickets. On the other had, I really missed the warmth of the beach, and I’d still rather go in the summer, even if that means paying more for tickets. Have you ever gone on a discounted trip? Where to?

Teyla Rachel Branton

Copyright 2020 Teyla Rachel Branton

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19 Responses to “A Quick Trip to Portugal in the Winter”

  1. Bob Gaspar

    What a great experience for your daughter. We hear all the time about how expensive prescription medicines are in the U.S. That’s why we have so many U.S. citizens crossing the border here to get them filled. Later last year, a whole group came to Windsor with Senator Sanders because they can get 6 times the medication for the same money.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Seriously, it is a problem. I don’t have insurance for prescriptions, so that means $72 for only two-thirds the tube size as I got in Portugal for $4.45. The other medicine was only about half as much as here but such a savings overall! Lisbon did love being there!

      Reply
  2. Barbara Van Walsen

    You are so lucky. I can’t imagine having my own translator.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      My husband and I also speak Portuguese, and it is so fun having a child that does, so I don’t keep having to translate for her. My oldest two also did as children, but we kind of failed teaching the middle kids. Two have picked it up as adults though, and one son married a woman who speaks Portuguese and is only learning English. I love hearing different languages.

      Reply
  3. Carol Allen

    Wow! Thank you for sharing the details of your trip to Portugal! It sounds like you had a good time! & family is important!
    My husband & I took a trip to Israel in 1994 & 1996. First trip we had to go to Greece then to Israel & then back to Greece. Second trip Italy to Israel & back to Italy. They said we couldn’t fly directly into Israel. It was wonderful!

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      That sounds great! I soooooo want to go to Greece someday. It’s one of my dreams!

      Reply
      • Carol Allen

        When we went to Greece, I felt so at home there! Like I was a part of that Country! I don’t know how else to explain it. I hope you do get to go there! I think you will enjoy it! Love & Prayers, Carol Allen

        Reply
  4. Judith L Bass

    What a wonderful trip! Fortunately you were prepared for the snow. I enjoy your family trips and seeing the different places and of course I LOVE your books!!!
    Judie

    Reply
  5. Sandra Davis

    You pictures are amazing, and what fun and education for your 8 year old little miss. She looks like she was having an amazing time, and visits with Grandma are the best. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Thank you for reading. She did have a lot of fun. I wish Portugal were a bit closer, lol!

      Reply
  6. William Vegvari

    The pics make it look good. Glad you all had a good time. I prefer winter to travel, did parts of Europe a few years ago now but it was fantastic. Especially with snow around most places

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      That’s interesting you say this because I really think that going in the winter opened us up to new experiences. No doubt you had similar experiences (and there were a lot fewer tourists, lol.) I have a cool video I took on the beach that I’ll put up to show because it was really cool how the water skimmed across the sand. I’ve never seen anything like it in the summer.

      Reply
  7. Susan Carroll

    What a wonderful trip! (after the terrible long flight) That park is so delightful, even in winter, and the views, and the statue of Christ. Your daughter had a wonderful time and a lovely hair-do. And of course, lots of home cooking!
    Of course you have lots of ideas for new plots and characters!

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Good point! Traveling always give me lots of ideas for writing, and I do get along really well with my MIL and my BIL. My husband is one of two children, and he’s the only one married, and our children are the only grandkids. That is another reason we try so hard to get over there!

      Reply
  8. Les Collinge

    Thanks for sharing your family holiday and photos, I’ve been to Portugal for the last three years in June when it’s really hot, I much prefer Portugal to Spain where I have been going on and off for about fifty years, the people are much more friendlier, l’m glad we have the NHS in the UK, my prescriptions are free!

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Free prescriptions are always nice! Yay for visiting Portugal. They are very friendly. I’ve only been through Spain on my way to Gibraltar, but what I saw was beautiful. I’d really like to get back to France sometime. I haven’t been there since I was eleven! Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

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