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Natalie Neves

Fairfield, New Jersey Travel Agent

A Local’s View of Portugal

Portugal is my native country. It is a place that I know and love as a local and as a travel professional, so I enjoy planning trips around the country for individuals and groups. One of the most amazing trips I planned was in 2017 when I escorted a group to Fátima, a Portuguese city where three shepherd children had a vision of the Virgin Mary. The city has been a popular destination for religious tourism ever since.  

It was the 100th anniversary of that original vision, and Pope Francis was going to be there, so I had booked a group of 30 people to see all the religious sites. We were there on the day the Pope landed in his helicopter, and when I say we were “there,” I mean we were right there. We didn't touch the Pope, but we were very close to him. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget, and I know that no one in the group will either. 

From Fátima, we went to Porto for a river cruise and then went on to see the sights in Lisbon. We got around in a private cable car and saw all of the cultural attractions. The itinerary was tailor-made for my group, which was made up of religious and fun-loving people. 

If I had to describe this trip with one word, I would say “emotional.” When you see people from all over the world come together to see the Pope and be blessed by him, it is something you know you may never get to see again.  

The trip was complicated. It took me over nine months to get it all coordinated, but it had so much meaning for my group that it was worth every second.

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