I have a habit (good or bad is yet to be decided) of thinking that the last place we have traveled to is the best ever. When we went to Spain, I fell in love with the food and the architecture, and dreamed of moving there. In France, I thought the pace of life and the emphasis on food was wonderful, and contemplated future trips to different regions. Japan captured my imagination with its culture and simple beauty. Australia? The people are wonderful and welcoming and I never wanted to leave. Singapore has the best food and I could spend months going to all the various Hawker Centers and trying out all the offerings.
As incredible as all those places are, my latest and best love is Portugal. I cannot fully explain what it is that draws me there and makes me drool at the thought of returning. It is beautiful and old, yes, but so are many other places in Europe. Maybe it is the attitude of the people, and the ease with which you can get around, eat, drink, and relax. We have spent a few days in Porto- which is wine heaven- and barely scratched the surface of what that city has to offer. We have been to Lisbon twice (so far!) and are starting to get a feel for the different neighborhoods. We visited Sintra, and were blown away by the beauty and sheer scope of the royal summer palaces there.
And then there is Madeira. We spent only a couple of days there on our first trip (it is an island – there can’t be that much to see there!) and realized we had woefully underestimated the draw of the place. We originally went to explore the famed fortified wine of the same name, not knowing much about anything. We left with plans to return and spend enough time to do justice to the place. Just over a year later, we were back, this time for 10 days and over the Christmas and New Year holidays. The city of Funchal goes all out to decorate the streets and public places and it is a wonderful thing to see all the lights come on every evening as the cruise ships that have stopped in for the day pull out of the harbor. I could bore you for days, going on and on about it. Sadly, we won’t be going back in the near future, as there are so many more new places to explore. We’ll see what becomes my “favorite” next!