This trip was our fourth to Portugal, and as mentioned in previous articles, we were late to appreciate the beauty of Portugal. Still, we have caught up and have experienced and traveled to quite a bit of the country, both pre-pandemic and currently.
This trip began as most European trips usually do, with the worry about applying for the Landing Card and the COVID Test for the European country we are visiting. However, this time filling out the Landing Card for Portugal was easier because we’ve learned two secrets from our last trip. First, when filling in your seat number on the plane, you need to capitalize the letter in the seat number (example 16A). Second, even though the Landing Card shows a USA flag, you must include the USA country code of 01 with your phone number.
As per the COVID Test within 24-hours of entering Portugal, we are old hats at efficiently completing this test at JFK Terminal 8 and getting the results within 20-minutes at no additional charge. Note that the COVID testing center has moved to a DocGo registry, and quite a bit of time can be saved if this can be filled out ahead of time.
My wife Maureen and I are getting used to the awful two-hour immigration wait upon arrival in Portugal. There is no excuse for this extended wait; there are usually only 2-4 immigration officers on duty. There is no problem with immigration when leaving Portugal. We can’t wait to see what will happen during the summer months.
The city of Lisbon is beautiful and easy to get around, and the airport is within the city limits, so taking a taxi or Uber from the airport to a downtown hotel is inexpensive and quick. As we have in on past visits to Portugal, we have stayed at the Lisbon Marriott Hotel in the city’s center and about a half-mile from the Lisbon Zoo.
Several wonderful day trips can be taken from Lisbon, including Cascais (as mentioned in a previous article) and also Sintra are two worth mentioning. Travelers to Sintra can use conveniently located train stations throughout Lisbon. Trains to Sintra depart every half hour, and the trip takes a scant 40-minutes at the cost of €2.50 per person each way, a real bargain.
Sintra was gorgeous, like Greenwich Village or Montmartre in the mountains. An absolute walking town with lots of restaurants, bars, and shopping. We walked from the train station through the city, ending up at the Quinta Da Regaleira Palace and Gardens, a beautiful walking tour of the town. In good weather, Sintra is not to be missed.
Just a note, concerning the negative COVID test within one day (not 24-hours) before taking a flight back to the USA, we have been using the new Zoom-based Abbott Labs COVID Test for traveling sold by eMed.com. This test is conveniently taken in your hotel room using Zoom and eliminates the nerve-racking issue of not only finding a COVID Test Site and making a reservation for the test, but the high cost of the test in Europe.