Celebrating Christmas in Europe: A photo essay

We pulled ourselves from the beaches of Mauritius and mountains of Cape Town and purposely headed back to the northern hemisphere – yes, into winter – to take in the sights and sounds of the holiday season by celebrating Christmas in Europe.

We have been able to celebrate Christmas for an entire month, spread over three countries and five cities (Lisbon, Barcelona, Seville, Madrid and Lecce), as celebrating Christams in Europe doesn’t end on December 25, but continues until January 6, the Day of the Epiphany. read more


10 churches in Lisbon, Portugal JetSettingFools.com

10 Churches in Lisbon, Portugal: A photo essay

During our two week stay in Lisbon, we’ve been in more churches than we can count. As we wander the streets, if we come across a church with open doors, we take a peek inside. Churches of every size and style have elicited gawking from us as we take in the beauty and history of the churches in Lisbon, Portugal.

We’ve been the sole visitors in enormous churches, our echoing footsteps the only sound and we’ve walked into smaller, lesser-known churches where every pew is filled for evening mass. Being that it is Christmastime, simple decorations add a festive touch, Nativity scenes are on display and almost every church hosts a Christmas concert. read more


10 Scenic Viewpoints in Lisbon, Portugal JetSettingFools.com

10 Scenic Viewpoints in Lisbon

The hills of Lisbon are giving us a workout, but our reward (besides burning up all the calories from the wine and custard tarts) are the scenic viewpoints in Lisbon showing us the brightly colored city from different angles. Miradouros – lookout points – with shady terraces, sometimes accompanied by a small café, can be found all over the city and both tourists and locals frequent the spots.

In addition to the hillside views, many of the monuments and churches allow visitors to take a lift or hike to the top for rooftop views, but usually for a small fee. To keep our budget in check we often skipped on paying for the views, but indulged at a few places. With the hillside and tower views combined, we discovered 10 scenic viewpoints in Lisbon. read more


LIsbon's Cristo Rei

Lisbon’s Cristo Rei

On the south bank of the Tagus River near the 25 de Abril Bridge is Lisbon’s Cristo Rei. The 92 foot tall statue of Christ (which stands on a 269 foot base) looks out over all of Lisbon. Both the statue and the bridge are smaller versions of their more famous inspiration: Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, but are both clearly defined in Lisbon’s history and skyline. A trip across the river to see the statue up close requires little planning and little cash, which makes it a great option for budget travelers. read more


The Streets of Alfama Lisbon Portugal

Out our front door in Lisbon: The streets of Alfama

Part Four in a series: Out our front door: The streets of Alfama. Every time we book accommodations in a new city we are taking a leap of faith. We rely on reviews and attempt to seek out places with local flavor that are still within walking (or public transportation) distance to sights. We couldn’t have been more spot-on with our stay in Lisbon.

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, spreads out from the banks of the Tagus River; many neighborhoods cover the hilly land, each with their own distinct personality. To the east of the city center is the Alfama district, it nods to the past with a tangle of narrow, cobblestone streets and laundry drying on lines outside windows. Our apartment is in the heart of it. Although tourists flock to the area for the Castle of Saint George, the Se Cathedral and the National Pantheon, it doesn’t feel touristy, but rather like a community. read more


One Day in Belem Lisbon Portugal

One day in Belem, Lisbon

Just four miles from Lisbon’s city center is Belem, a serene riverside town packed with charm and a ton of history. During the Age of Discovery, ships departed from the banks of the river to explore trade routes. A monastery, watch tower and palace (where the President of Portugal now resides) were all built in the 1500s at a time when Portugal controlled the Spice Trade and the Indian Ocean. In addition to the historic sights, the ‘new’ Monument to the Discoveries (built in 1960), peaceful squares, a riverside path dotted with cafes and Pasteis de Belem should be on anyone’s ‘one day in Belem’ itinerary. read more


Sao Vicente de Fora Lisbon Portugal

Out our front door in Lisbon: Sao Vicente de Fora

Part Three of a series: Out our front door: Sao Vicente de Fora. Every time we book accommodations in a new city we are taking a leap of faith. We rely on reviews and attempt to seek out places with local flavor that are still within walking (or public transportation) distance to sights. We couldn’t have been more spot-on with our stay in Lisbon.

Just up the hill from our apartment is Sao Vicente de Fora, a church with soaring towers and an attached monastery. Inside the church, the striking features include the ornamental canopy over the altar, the enormous statues on either side of it and the massive organ looming large behind it. read more


Lisbon's National Pantheon

Out our front door in Lisbon: Lisbon’s National Pantheon

Part Two of a series, Out Our Front Door: Lisbon’s National Pantheon. Every time we book accommodations in a new city we are taking a leap of faith. We rely on reviews and attempt to seek out places with local flavor that are still within walking (or public transportation) distance to sights. We couldn’t have been more spot-on with our stay in Lisbon.

If we were any closer to Lisbon’s National Pantheon, we’d staying there (which isn’t really allowed). It is literally out our front door, greeting us in its enormity every time we come and go from the apartment. read more


Feira da Ladra Thieves Market Lisbon Portugal

Out our front door in Lisbon: Feira da Ladra

Part One of a series, Out Our Front Door: Feira da Ladra. Every time we book accommodations in a new city we are taking a leap of faith. We rely on reviews and attempt to seek out places with local flavor that are still within walking (or public transportation) distance to sights. We couldn’t have been more spot-on with our stay in Lisbon.

Our homey one-bedroom apartment with creaking wood floors, an exposed brick arch and shuttered windows that open to an alley with a corner cafe is exactly what we wanted for our two week stay in Lisbon. Being across the street from the National Pantheon, down the hill from a historic church and around the corner from a train station was the bonus – and we are finding there is so much more right out our front door. read more


Visiting Lisbon Portugal for the second time

Visiting Lisbon, Portugal (for a second time)

When we landed in Lisbon, Portugal, it was the first time in our seven months of traveling around the world that I set foot on familiar soil. Up until this point, every city, every country, every continent we have traveled to were new to me. But coming to Lisbon was an intentional re-do, of sorts. We were visiting Lisbon, Portugal for a second time – and hoping this experience would be better than our first one.

Visiting Lisbon, Portugal the first time

Kris and I vacationed in Portugal in the fall of 2010, our annual, one-week escape from work. We instantly fell in love with Porto, but when we got to Lisbon, well, the wheels just kind of fell off. It was unseasonably warm, we were disoriented, there was no vacancy at our desired hotels and we got locked in a train station. Having difficulties, we needed to communicate, but our pre-conceived notion that our knowledge of the Spanish language would suffice in Portugal was totally off base. read more