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Spring is a great time for a romantic getaway – either to Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, or the West Coast – so here are four tips to help you maximize your enjoyment of the destination, and each other, while away à deux:
Avoid kids and conferences: Nothing wrecks a romantic mood more than screaming kids – but loud, badge-wearing conference-goers are a close second. The best way to avoid both is to book a smaller resort, preferably one where children under 16 are either not allowed or discouraged.
As far as Western Europe goes, Portugal is a more economical alternative to its neighbors, while still offering dazzling beaches, an Old World capital city, charming countryside, and its famous wine. Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, has had a crop of new hotel openings in 2010, giving us even more reason to buy a Portuguese phrase book and plan a trip for 2011. Read more
Barcelona is a city unlike any other – it has Gaudi’s modernist masterpieces, vibrant Catalan culture, and even a beach – making it a wonderful place to visit time and again. It also makes a great base for exploring other nearby destinations that complement rather than compete with its charms. Two great add-ons to a stay in Barcelona are Lisbon, Portugal, another intriguing city yet with a very different vibe, and the sunny Spanish island of Mallorca. I recently visited both and here are my recommendations:
LISBON This hill-bisected city on the River Tagus is often described as “melancholy.” Sure, its buildings are a tad weatherworn, a few of its streetcars are certifiable antiques, and its soulful fado singers can make you cry, but Portugal’s capital city is far from a sad place. Rather, it is an inviting collage of lively neighborhoods, each with its own charm and character: Baixa, its central hub, is home to wide, pedestrian-only Rua Augusta stretching from the graceful fountains of Rossio plaza (shown above) to the elegant arch on Praca de Comercio; Bairro Alto, or “high neighborhood,” is a 16th-century maze of narrow cobblestone streets that comes to life at night with its numerous bars; Alfama, a dense warren of steep medieval lanes, leads up to the viewpoints from Castelo de Sao Jorge; and Belem to the west is home to the 16th-century Manueline-style Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and Torre de Belem.
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