We spent our September this year plein air painting in Portugal. It was the first time I had visited the country and we started from the north near Apulia, and worked our way south to the Algarve. We had great weather, with the exception of some fog on the coast. The food was terrific (and inexpensive) and the people were all really friendly.
Outside of the cities, Portugal and California look very similar. From the ubiquitous eucalyptus trees, to the cliffs looking down on an ocean teaming with surfers, to the rolling hills with golden grass and cork trees (which look like California live oaks), to the traditional whitewashed architecture which is similar to the Spanish colonial buildings, there were many times when I did a double-take to remember where I was. The light, like in California, is especially beautiful.
The light in the Algarve is stunning. Since the coast faces south, the sun is above the water most of the day. The area is more built-up than other coastal areas that we visited, but there were a lot of wonderful views.
As pretty as Lisbon and Porto are, we didn’t spend a lot of time in the bigger cities as we were traveling with a dog and the smaller towns and countryside were more manageable.