In May 2000 I went to a planning session with a group of public finance analysts. This was their big blow-out - a few days of planning, and then a long weekend in Sintra and Lisbon. My role was to get everyone excited about a computer system, which at that point, didn't look like it was going to happen. I couldn't tell the truth and I didn't want to lie, which put me in a bit of an awkward position, since I had to speak at length. But what's a little humiliation when you end up in such an amazingly beautiful and friendly place as Portugal? People there live their lives to the fullest - especially behind the wheel.

The conference itself took place at a very exclusive golf resort called Penha Longa, right near the town of Sintra. "Penha Longa" (I just love that name) means "long rock" or "long cliff", although there was some conjecture. There's a lavish hotel, huge amounts of rocky land, savage-looking gardens, and a golf course somewhere. There were also some 17th century buildings, including one where we had a banquet one night.

During our free time, we took a day tour of Sintra. A group of us spent the weekend poking around in Lisbon. A very short trip, but well worth going back.