Looking back on our summer vacation, it was a wonderful, whirlwind trip where we got to see many unique locations. We didn’t have much time at any of the stops and so many places have been added to me “must return” list.
The trip started with 12 days at sea on a cruise ship and it was a great, relaxing way to get to Europe. If you have the time and you enjoy being out at sea, I highly recommend it. And we really enjoyed our time on the Norwegian Getaway. It is a big ship with a lot of different places to eat and things to do. I really think Norwegian’s Breakaway class ships are my favorite cruise ships.
Our first taste of Europe was in Ponta Delgada, Azores which is a place many people have never heard of. The landscape was anything I had ever seen before and one day just wasn’t enough time. We saw beautiful coastlines and steaming hot springs. We had food cooked in the ground. We bought some tea that was grown on the island. It was an incredible experience and we have been watching flight prices to Ponta Delgada since we got home.
Madeira was a place that has been on my list for a while and the one day just wasn’t enough to see everything. There were beautiful vistas and delicious food. We barely scratched the surface. We will be back to ride the toboggan in Monte!
We arrived at mainland Europe in Lisbon and it was hot (it got up to 90°F) and our Airbnb did not have air conditioning, but this didn’t stop us from exploring the city! We had three full days in Lisbon but I would love to go back and dig deeper. We did a wonderful food tour where we tried all the food of the city. I celebrated my birthday with one of the most amazing dinners on the water that I think about all the time (above). And we explored the unique city of Sintra and its colorful castle.
We took a train from Lisbon to Porto where it was much cooler. Our Airbnb was in a great location that was just steps from one of the city’s famous bridges. We took the most amazing tour of the Duoro Valley where we learned so much about the history of the region and got to try some amazing wines. I feel like we barely scratched the surface on Porto. We will have to return and take another trip to the Duoro as well!
Toledo (top) was probably the most historically and architecturally interesting place that we visited on this trip. Walking through the streets was like walking back to the 11th century. The cathedral was breathtaking and one of the most ornate churches I have ever seen. If you are planning time in Madrid, take a day trip to Toledo. It is worth it.
I complained about the heat in Lisbon, but it only got worse in Madrid. I feel like the heat (highs above 100° F) and the difficulty escaping it really color my memories of Madrid. Of all the places we visited on this trip, I don’t feel a draw to return to Madrid. Other places in Spain (Andalucia, Asturias, Barcelona, etc) are still on my list, though.
From one temperature extreme to the other, we barely scratched the surface of Iceland but what we saw really makes me want to go back. It was an amazing landscape, in some ways very similar to the Azores, and I would love the time (and money) to properly explore it.
Overall, this trip was very long but went by very quickly. It was amazing and life-changing and I want to do it again next summer! You will have to wait and see where we are off to next!
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out Cruising the Atlantic to Portugal and Spain trip report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.