An art deco bookstore with a the most beautiful gilded staircase. A castle more colorful and crazy than Neuschwanstein. Rocky coasts and white beach sands and surf. Port wine. Grilled suckling pig prawns bigger than your hand. Colorful tiled homes. The most elegant capital city in Europe. An 18th century Baroque library. Lighthouses at the ends of the Earth. Portugal is full of beautiful surprises, and for these, and so many other reasons, it’s become one of my favorite destinations.
During my last trip to Portugal, I stayed at a bona fide palace, complete with flying buttresses, a butler, a maze garden. It was hotter than the dickens, and one night while we were there, something tragic happened not far outside the castle walls while we were sleeping. Here’s a story about waking up to the smoke of the worst Portuguese wildfire in recent memory – and the false security of staying in a fortress.