Friday morning I will leave for Portugal, then travel on to Spain and France for 26 days of new experiences. This is my first time in southwest Europe and the third time I’ve visited a country where English, or some form of it, is not the primary language. So I’m brushing up on my French and attempting to learn a little Portuguese. Read on to find out what I’ll be up to…


  • Arrive in Lisbon Saturday morning
  • Meet friends in the evening at Meninos do Rio for drinks, then on to Restaurante D’Avis for dinner
  • Day trip to Sintra, a coastal town next to Lisbon with a royal palace, a 19th century palace, and the remains of a Moorish castle
  • Stay in Aveiro for a few days, visiting with Xana, her family and friends
  • Day trip from Porto down the Duoro to enjoy the view of vineyards flanking the river, then a train for the return trip


  • Overnight train (over 11 hours!) to San Sebastian, northern Spain
  • Spend the day in San Sebastian, a picturesque coastal town


  • Train to Bordeaux in France, then drive to Saint Cyprian, a town in the French countryside next to the Dordogne River
  • Visit Mark’s parents for a week and a half, enjoying the countryside, riding bikes, drinking wine and exploring the area
  • Drive back to Bordeaux and on to Paris by high-speed train
  • Six days exploring the unique beauty of Paris
  • Fly back home from Paris and rest!