I can’t believe that we were in Portugal for less than a week! The days feel so long when you’re wandering the streets in Lisbon or when you’re exploring the caves in Algarve. I feel like we did so much in just four nights. Please put Portugal on the list of places to travel to if you haven’t already.
Pena Palace in Sintra
Here’s the snapshot of our itinerary:
- Thursday night- Lisbon (Lisboa to the locals)
- Friday- Lisbon
- Saturday- Sintra & Cascais
- Sunday- Algarve (I’m not sure if it’s Algarve, or The Algarves)
- Monday- Algarve
9/24/15 Thursday: My first night in Lisbon was on my own because Corey had a working dinner. The nights here feel like the Bay Area with a cool breeze (layers needed), yet the neighborhoods feel like more like NYC. The neighborhood Bairro Alto felt similar to the Lower East Side, full of shops, restaurants, and bars which you feel like you’ve earned the right to patronize after walking up and down so many hills. On Sachi’s recommendation, I headed to Taberna Da Rua Das Flores and had an amazing octopus salad. After dinner, I went back to the hotel for drinks with Corey and his coworker, Ali.
I’ll include what she told me: “No reservations, so get there early! Tapas and delicious. They will tell you it’s an hour+ wait, but in reality it’ll be 15-30 mins. Ask for a glass of wine and hang out outside and people watch.” She was right.
From this point on, I think I ate octopus once a day.
9/25/15 Friday: While Corey went to his meetings on Friday morning, I toured the neighborhood Belem, keeping a strong focus on the highest priorities- pastel de nata (egg tart)…sprinkle cinnamon and powdered sugar on top, and eat at the bar! This was the central reason for my travels to Belem, a slightly out of the way neighborhood.
Pasteis de Belem! The line was out the door for these tasty treats first created in 1837 with a secret recipe from the nearby monastery.
Pastel de Nata in the nearby park! Don’t worry, I got one to go for Corey since we feel bad that he was in meetings all morning.
After fueling up on the egg-custard tart, I walked about 5 miles through Belem towards Baixa (a neighborhood closer to the tourist center). It was such a gorgeous day to check out the Padrao Dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries), Central Cultural De Belem (I only went into the gardens), Torre De Belem (Belem Tower) and the winding streets in the neighborhood.
Padrao Dos Descobrimentos- Along my walk I noted the statue was across a major highway so I wasn’t actually able to visit it.
The gardens at the Central Cultural De Belem were a gorgeous pit stop but I didn’t stay long as I was off to the Torre De Belem.
Torre De Belem: The line was long, but sitting with water lapping at my feet was just fine.
The tiles on the buildings were colorful and unique on every building.
Real Eyes Realize Real Lies
I believe this should be called “Ode to Raccoons”.
This dancing DJ reminded me of my mom. I think she’d like the artwork.
I loved the shape of this building.
At this point, I needed to cab to meet up with Corey since I was late after all this meandering. For lunch, we had frango y chips (chicken and fries) in Baixa- the neighborhood near Bloomberg’s satellite office. The chicken is a local favorite and the spot, Bonjardim Rei Dos Frangos, knows how to rock this dish!
Frango y chips! The rice with chicken liver was also a part of the meal. Highly suggested to add the spicy peri peri sauce on top of your chicken.
The meal came with bread and an entire wheel of cheese. For my cheese-loving friends, I DID take a bite in honor of you. I couldn’t pass up something like this since I know you’d love it so much, but one bite was all I could do.
After lunch, Corey needed to change out of his work clothes and I needed a catnap after walking so many miles in the morning. We regrouped at the hotel and then went out for the second part of our sight-seeing adventure.
We had to get to Castelo St. Jorge for an incredible view of Lisbon. The castle is on a hill above the neighborhood, Alfama. Then we walked all the way down through the ambling streets of Alfama, peering into shops and cafes. We headed to A Vida Portuguesa, a lovely shop with items made entirely by Portuguese artists and craftsfolk. We finished our shopping just in time for our dinner reservation at Cervejaria Ramiro, literally the best and freshest seafood I’ve ever eaten! The langoustine, percebes, and jumbo tiger prawns are still dancing in my dreams. The crab was also super tasty. Before you go, I can teach you how to eat percebes now, and be aware that you might need to duck flying shells and bits of seafood meat as people are cracking open the treasures at this restaurant. Corey also mentioned that folks end their night by ordering a small filet of steak- that seems blasphemous to me, but to each their own.
Our night ended at Pensao Amor, a historic brothel turned into a dimly lit lounge with tasty drinks. Lisbon, thank you for such an amazing visit!
Panoramic shots don’t post as well here so try to check the ‘gallery’ section of the blog. Here is the view right as you enter the castle.
Another gorgeous shot from the wall’s edge.
Walking around the perimeter of the castle.
We climbed the steps for every tower in this place.
Corey’s vision. I can’t take the credit.
Magical winding lanes in Alfama, the neighborhood below Castelo St. Jorge.
He was bummed that he couldn’t slide down the rail. Instead, he did the Bobby Shmurda dance all the way down the steps.
It felt like A Vida Portuguesa was the perfect place to buy souvenirs.
A crow. I hope you’re seeing this! (Entrance to A Vida Portuguesa)
Jumbo tiger prawns carried live to your table for you to pick out before your order them at Cervejaria Ramiro.
Huge lobsters were also brought to your table. We didn’t order one, but this table ordered two and got to pose with this guy before he was grilled and his friend was steamed.
The streets are beautifully tiled with all sorts of designs. The streets aren’t the best for anything but a flat, or a sneaker, as the hills and tiles give your calves a run for your money.
After dinner drinks at Pensao Amor
9/26/15 Saturday: We picked up our rental car and drove out to Sintra, the hometown of Pena Palace. We rode in a Tuk Tuk to the top, a fun yet bumpy ride. The castle was the most colorful thing I’ve seen, and full of tourists snapping panoramic shots and selfies- we may have been guilty of a few of these ourselves (see below). We both loved the architecture, the tiles, and the delicately crafted carvings in the castle walls.
Our driver stopped along the way and pointed out beautiful private homes leading up to the castle.
Pena Palace is painted with reds, yellows, and pale blues. The history, you ask? Not sure…we admittedly didn’t read much on this trip.
Main entrance. The selfie sticks begin!
Flowers growing wildly out of the wall of the castle.
Trying to recreate Corey’s castle picture. This definitely doesn’t compete with his shot at sunset on his prior visit to the castle.
The Moorish castle seen from the grounds of Pena Palace. Our tuk tuk driver said it was only a 5 min walk from Pena, but we didn’t take on that challenge.
You’ve got to sacrifice to get the perfect shot.
This pic was inspired by my dad, who I believe took a similar shot at the Alhambra in Spain.
The tiling was gorgeous. A perfect set up for a Pegleg advertisement.
The red and yellow of the walls with the red and yellow of their shirts 🙂
Another Corey vision.
Seriously, folks. I feel like I’m on a movie set, or a lego model.
Corey disclosed that this spot was where he would propose to me if he needed a Plan B (after Iceland).
Carry on to Cascais’ Old Town, a vacation spot right along the water! Being at this beachtown reminded me of being in Alicante, the town in Spain where Jamie Lynn studied abroad. We ate a tasty seafood lunch (yes, octopus for me again!) and then wandered through the streets buying up small souvenirs, and stealing shots of the locals. We caught the sunset along the harbor of Baia De Cascais (bay), and along Praia Da Ribeira (beach).
Lunch at Beira Mar restaurant. Tell me you wouldn’t order the octopus?! Corey had the second best dish, the cod.
Kids jumping into Baia de Cascais.
Woman in the Window: I can feel my dad’s vision coming on when I take shots of the locals without them knowing.
The artist painted on this tile-made to look like the metal is peeling off to reveal what is underneath. So dope!
Never seen a tree like this one.
Can’t get enough of these tiles.
A man walking his dog. Where are we, you ask? Somewhere in Cascais- in the neighborhood outside of touristy Old Town.
This is the life! What stories they must be telling!
Randomly found this garden full of families getting ready for a sleepover in the park, and of locals taking a stroll through the gardens.
Peacocks in the rose garden! They feed on the rose buds though so I’m not sure if the garden ever fully blooms.
Dancing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” on the beach….I’m serious about that one. BK, I hope you are seeing this.
We were so busy taking this shot we didn’t realize that 5 min down the road is the Boca Do Inferno, a highlight that we missed 😦
Jamie Lynn! I hope you see this! Doesn’t this remind you of Alicante?!
Boats at sunset.
Beach in Old Town. The Cascais Triathlon was being set up just down the shore.
Pano of the Baia.
Back in Lisbon, our last stop of the day was TimeOut’s Mercado Da Ribeira! It’s an marketplace with gourmet food right along the water’s edge.
One could wander for days trying to decide what to eat. Drinks down the center aisles, food orders taken on the perimeter. Then, snag a seat!
Umm, you’re supposed to take the pic before you eat the food. These shishito peppers didn’t stand a chance.
More tile! How do they do this?!
9/27/15 Sunday: We got an early start to the Algarve as it’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Lisbon. The drive took us through Portugal’s countryside, complete with sea mist (fog), and pine trees growing atop the rolling hills. We didn’t have a set agenda for this leg of the journey but soon found that it didn’t matter. Just stop at as many beaches as you can, and you’ll feel full of life! Our favorite beaches were Praia Do Marinha and Praia Do Albandeira. Marinha has such breathtaking cliffs and was wonderful for jumping into the crystal clear aquamarine water. Albandeira had crazy rock formations and caves, yet the waves were too big for swimming (at least based on the rule “don’t swim in the water if locals aren’t in the water”).
I’m getting ahead of myself….The first stop on our trip was Ponta Da Piedade. This is a time where a picture is worth more than a thousand words. I must’ve taken the same picture so many times because I just couldn’t get over how beautiful it was at this look out.
We laughed that someone would even need a sign like this at Piedade.
This is a real place! Go there 🙂
Kayaking tours through the caves.
You can’t take a bad shot! So serene.
Websites say the best place to see this point is by sea, but I didn’t feel at a loss at all.
On top of the world! Corey had to call me back as I was wandering a bit too far.
We drove on to Praia Do Marinha….a must see when you travel to Algarve (so far everything feels like a ‘must see’ as you can already tell). We checked into Quintinha Village, laid out at Praia Dos Pescadores, and caught the sunset on our rooftop. We knew we wanted to visit the neighboring town, Ferragudo, where our friend, Sam, is from. She suggested we eat at Fim Do Mundo. This restaurant had the friendliest servers and we ate so well. Cheers to the “end of the world” and muito obrigada to Sam for this suggestion!
Check the ‘gallery’ option on this blog for a better view of this.
It was hard to leave the look out to go down to the beach.
We got to swim here!
Sunset on the roof is so much fun.
Yep. This happened!
Couldn’t let him have all the fun.
Look what I can do!
The restaurant is down a small alley so don’t miss this sign.
Cataplana is a traditional dish cooked in a device that is like an early pressure cooker.
Our first time having green wine. Only 15E, folks!
Monkfish, clams, prawns, potatoes, peppers, and onions! We toasted the chef as she ate family meal at the table next to us.
We closed down the restaurant with one other table. The servers brought us homemade Grappa at the end of our meal!
9/28/15 Monday: I couldn’t believe that we’d only been in Portugal for just four nights. Our last day- though half a day- still felt wonderfully relaxing and full. Praia Do Albandeira is off the beaten path and was such a gem of a beach. I highly suggest visiting as there are very few tourists- we got there and only one other couple was laying out. Corey and I explored the caves and rock formations. The waves were pretty shocking which we attributed to the Red Moon (earth science?! don’t quote us on that hypothesis).
We experimented with Corey’s manual driving skills and thought that it might be a bit too much adventure for this trip.
Tide pool at Albandeira. Mainly percebes and sand.
We walked through a small cave and this was on the other side!
Me trying to capture the perfect crashing wave. Corey got a better shot than me on his phone.
Here’s a beauty!
This is no joke, people!
Quick shot before the waves close up the cave and we can’t get back to our towel. Ok, maybe not that dramatic of a time frame.
We had the itch to check out just one more spot, and made our way to Praia de Benagil. While Corey laid out, I was enamored with the thousands of shells along the beach. The restaurant, Cinco, looked out over the water and was a welcome meal after missing breakfast due to our excitement to get to the beaches. The drive to the airport was about 45 min but felt like a quick trip thanks to belting out Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson (not mad at the Portuguese mixture of megahits with American tunes).
From the road, this beach looks really, really tiny, but then….
Hearing the waves rolling over the shells sounded like a rainstick.
Never seen anything like this….
I collected these shells, but only took home three. Which would you have stashed away in your bag?
Nothing but the freshest fish at Cinco!
I’m not sure how to wrap up this post as I still can’t believe that I was just in one of the most beautiful places in Europe.
Girlcar definitely needs to add Portugal to the list, the Algarves does have an airport in Faro!
Shoutout to Sachi for being my personal tripadvisor! Your recommendations were top notch.
Shoutout to Sam for your Fin Do Mundo suggestion.
Shoutout to Erica and Brian for visiting Portugal to your honeymoon trip- can’t wait to gush about this place in person!