In what was to become our second European trip since the beginning of COVID, this quick shot was a 3-day adventure to the picturesque city of Cascais, on the Atlantic ocean just 45 minutes west of Lisbon. What makes this trip different were the issues and difficult documentation of COVID status for this country and inconsistencies within Portugal. Lisbon claims to be 90% vaccinated and now in herd immunity and that was great.
To begin this trip, as always, was a local COVID PCR test, 2 days ahead of the trip, though not required, but necessary to make sure that we would not be COVID positive upon arrival in Europe. We have had both shots plus the booster shot, but you can never take the chance.
To enter Portugal all travelers are required to fill out an online landing card that was impossible to fill out. A traveler never would have known that the letter in the seat number needed to be capitalized and even though the form automatically fills in the United States, in cell phone information once the traveler enters his passport number from the USA, the country code information must be changed to 001, which is standard but not on this form. The USA COVID vaccination paper record was checked by Delta and we were asked for a current COVID test, but this was not necessary for arrival to Portugal.
Upon arriving in Lisbon, we were greeted by a one-hour immigration line, and absolutely nothing but your passport was checked. We traveled to the southern end of the city and took a quick train to Cascais in less than an hour.
In Cascais, we rented a car from Hertz and proceeded to our beautiful Sheraton Hotel Cascais in the woods just out of town. We went to 3 spectacular beaches, Guincho, Cresmina, and Meco, two in Cascais and one on the other side of Lisbon. The downtown area of Cascais was gorgeous, on the ocean with many quaint shopping streets and restaurants. The area is perfect for a one-day visit or longer. Cascais is really connected and within walking distance of another beautiful town on the ocean called Estoril.
Getting our COVID test leaving Portugal was a disaster and it should not have been. Unlike France which gives you the paperwork immediately. Once taking a COVID antigen test, the results are sent to you via email. I got my confirmation by email, but my wife did not. At this point, you do not know if there was a mistake in sending the confirmation, whether the e-mail address was incorrect or whether you may have gone positive on the test. We returned to the local testing center and fortunately spoke to the same person who administered the test and she resent the information. This second confirmation had my wife’s name spelled incorrectly and we returned for a third time to the testing center and finally received all of the information correctly. Just a note, COVID tests in Portugal range in cost from 21 euros per test to free at some train stations.
For our last night, we stayed once again in the middle of Lisbon at the Marriott Lisbon and walked all over the city for hours. Lisbon is a great walking city with the major area being the Old Town on the ocean. Just a note, the Sheraton Hotel in Cascais checked both our passport and COVID vaccination paper and checked us in, but in Lisbon, we needed that information along with a current COVID test within 72 hours to check-in, or they will march you down to a local pharmacy for an immediate COVID test. Also, we not only carry our paper COVID vaccination confirmation but we back ourselves up with both the Excelsior Pass Plus and myvaccinationrecord.com online vaccination confirmations. Once again similar to France, your actual identification was never checked. The traveler fills out the paperwork but the passport is never checked that you are actually you. A note to the savvy traveler is to print out, not just have on your cell phone, the antigen test information. This makes check-in at the airport a lot easier.