anticipation & preparation: portugal

I have been anticipating returning to Portugal since I left there in 2013!

After I finish the Camino de Santiago, hopefully by my birthday on October 25, I’ll head to Braga, Portugal to meet my husband who will fly into Lisbon, rent a car, and drive to Braga. Our plan is to meet there on Friday, October 26.  Hopefully, I will still be able to walk and will be energetic enough to explore Portugal with him!

We started plotting our journey in the north of Portugal by studying a map in Lonely Planet Portugal.  We decided to start in Braga, as it’s partway between Porto and Santiago de Compostela. Porto would certainly be next on the itinerary.   After our time in Porto, we would head south toward Sintra and Lisbon, with one overnight in either Coimbra or Óbidos (undecided as of yet).  Though I’ve already been to Sintra and Lisbon, I have spoken of both places so fondly to my husband that he wants to visit them too.


planning for Portugal

My plans are always overambitious, but we will remain flexible and figure out what we can do comfortably along the way .

I created a spreadsheet, as always, and determined driving distances between towns by using Google Maps. Mike will drive a rental car from Lisbon to Braga.  I will have to use public transportation to get from Santiago de Compostela to Braga.  Looking at the website Rome2Rio, I’ve found there are two separate four-hour buses, which I can take, although driving would only take 2 hours.  Google Maps tells me to take a train to Pontevedra and then an ALSA bus to Braga for 3 hours and 25 minutes.  I suppose I’ll figure it out when I get there!

Here’s our itinerary so far:

  • Friday, August 31 – Saturday, September 1: I fly solo to Lisbon.
  • Saturday, Sept. 1- Sunday, September 2: Take the overnight sleeper train from Lisbon:  Lisboa Oreinte at 21:34 arriving in Hendaye at 11:33 a.m. Sunday. Take two more trains to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port in France.

September 4-October 25: WALK THE CAMINO!

  • Thursday, October 25: Mike flies solo to Lisbon.
  • Friday, October 26 – Sunday, the 28th: Braga and surrounds, including Dom Jesus Do Monte.  If we have time, we might visit Guimaraes or Parque Nacional da Peneda-Geres. (I’m sure this is overly ambitious, but whatever we see, we see!)
  • Sunday, Oct. 28 – Wednesday, the 31st: Porto and all around.
  • Wednesday, October 31 – Thursday, November 1: Either Coimbra or Obidos.
  • Thursday, November 1 – Saturday, the 3rd: Sintra.
  • Saturday, November 3 – Tuesday, the 6th (fly home in the morning): Lisbon.

I don’t know any Portuguese except obrigado for thank you, Olá for hello and por favor for please.  I ordered a book, which I’ll try to study a bit: Portuguese in 10 minutes a day.  As I’m also studying a similar book in Spanish, I probably won’t have time to learn much.  I should have started long before now!  Hopefully I can pick up a few phrases before going.

Before I travel to any country, I try to read novels, memoirs or travel essays set in my destination. Soon after I returned from my first trip to Portugal, I read The Painter of Birds.  At this moment, I’m reading, and enjoying very much, 300 Days of Sun.  I have Alentejo Blue on my Kindle, which I’m debating taking on the Camino, but it depends on my pack weight.  I also bought and intended to read José Saramago‘s Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal’s History and Culture but it’s not likely to happen. I am finding it too dense, and frankly, not that interesting.


Fado, journal, camera, guidebook, map and books

Here’s my suggested reading list for Portugal (the ones with stars *** are ones I’ve read or am currently reading):

  1. The Painter of Birds by Lidia Jorge ****
  2. 300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson (currently reading) ****
  3. Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali
  4. Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier
  5. The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
  6. Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal’s History and Culture by José Saramago
  7. Blindness by José Saramago
  8. All the Names by José Saramago

The only movie I was able to find set in Portugal was Night Train to Lisbon (2013) in which a Swiss professor abandons his lectures and buttoned-down life to embark on a thrilling adventure that will take him on a journey to the very heart of himself. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t one of my favorites.


more planning paraphernalia

Of course, I’ve been to Portugal before but only to the south: the Algarve, Evora, Lisbon and Sintra, which I wrote about here: in search of a thousand cafés: portugal. I looked over my old blog posts to remind myself which parts I liked most and where I should take Mike.

Lately, I’ve been preparing travel journals to keep when I embark on my journey.  Here is a list of my creative intentions for this journey.  I am always hoping to improve on keeping a travel journal.


Intentions for Portugal

When I was last in Portugal, I bought two CDs that came highly recommended by the owner of a small music shop in Lisbon: Ana Moura “Desfado” and Carminho “alma.”  I have listened to them numerous times over the last several years. I also listened to fado when I was in Lisbon. In April of this year, Mike and I went to a local venue, the Barns of Wolftrap, to listen to Ana Moura in person, and we loved immersing ourselves in her sorrowful fado tunes.  Fado is a distinctly Portuguese form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with sentiments of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia.  Listening to fado is an experience one shouldn’t miss while traveling in the country.

This time, I have made a playlist which includes these two Fado singers and others: Portuguese Dreams.

It includes songs such as:

I love immersing myself in music while visiting different cultures.

In the end, there is the packing.  As I can only take a few changes of clothes for the Camino, I will pack a bag that poor Mike will have to bring.  I’m sure I will be ecstatic to wear something different after my two or three shirts and hiking pants on the Camino! He will have to lug along my extra suitcase to Braga, where I will take possession of it most happily. 🙂


the stuff of dreams


“ANTICIPATION & PREPARATION” INVITATION: I invite you to write a 750-word (or less) post on your own blog about anticipation & preparation for a particular destination (not journeys in general). If you don’t have a blog, I invite you to write in the comments. Include the link in the comments below by Thursday, August 23 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this challenge on Friday, August 24, I’ll include your links in that post. My next post will be about preparations for the Camino de Santiago.

This will be an ongoing invitation, on the 4th Friday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂  If you’d like to read more about the topic, see: journeys: anticipation & preparation.

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!

the ~ wander.essence ~ community

I invite you all to settle in and read posts from our wandering community. I promise, you’ll be inspired!

  • Gilly, of Lucid Gypsy, wrote about her anticipation and preparation to travel to Poland to meet two dear blogging friends, Meg and Jo.  She was waylaid in an initial attempt, so when she heard whisperings of a later surprise trip by Meg, she put her plan in motion.

Thanks to all of you who wrote posts about anticipation and preparation.