A Week in Portugal
Updated: Sep 4
I'm sick with COVID that I probably got in Portugal, but the trip was worth it anyway. Here is a little synopsis of my trip.
After a nearly sleepless red-eye, we descend, and Lisbon's already looking beautiful:
I don't have much to say about the rest of the day: I went to Google Lisbon and had a free lunch there, I ambled around the city a little like a zombie, then I slept for 14 hours.
I'm back on my feet and I walk on the aqueducts with a couple of friends.
Then we Uber to Alfama, the Moorish quarter of Lisbon that survived the 1755 earthquake. It's very pretty.
We eat lunch there at Ze da Mouraria, and it's incredible: chorizo and mushrooms as our appetizers, and then codfish in this butter garlic sauce with chickpeas as the entree. I should have taken a picture.
I relax a bit in the afternoon and then try to take the E-28 trolley around the historic part of town. It was very delayed and then wouldn't move because a car was parked in its lane, so I gave up and decided to walk to Castelo de S. Jorge, an extremely old castle nearby. It looked spooky and mysterious at night. Here is a slightly blurry photo.
I walked on the barracks and felt spooked (I have a slight fear of heights).
Then I go to dinner with my friends at Prato, a trendy upscale place with small platters.
I got a couple of recommendations to go to the bakery Pasteis de Belem and try out their pasteis de nata, which is this delicious egg custard pastry that Portugal is known for. So I go to Belem, a part of Lisbon a little further away, and buy my pasteis and Americano.
This is far as I got into my pasteis, because a seagull flew and grabbed it from my hand!!
This was very shocking. I recuperated and then bought a second pasteis. Regardless, these pasteis were delicious, especially with some cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Then I went to see the Jeronimos Monastery, a monastery built in the early 1500s.
I went inside and it has a beautiful courtyard and cloisters.
Then I went into the church attached the monastery. It's similarly beautiful and has the tombs of a bunch of people, including explorer Vasco da Gama.
Then I had lunch A Marítima do Restelo. I had a fish soup that blew my mind and then some clams.😋
At this point I was dealing with some shin splints because I wasn't used to the uneven tiled sidewalks everywhere in Lisbon, but I suffered through it as I walked on the boardwalk of the Tagus River and saw the Tower of Belem, a truly fantastical piece of architecture that Portuguese explorers would journey out from and return to.
I got up early to take an 8:45 am Uber to Sintra with a couple of friends. We first stopped at the Pena Palace, a 19th-century palace built on top of a 16th-century monastery. It looked like something from Disney.
After touring the palace, we went to Quinta da Regaleira, an estate created by a Brazilian magnate who was into the Freemasons. We went down this 100-foot Initiatian Well, which leads to some caves.
After touring the estate, I had lunch and then decided to try on some flat-capped hats that my grandpa used to wear. Here is one I bought before I realized it was too small and causing a headache.
I exchanged it and got a bigger size with a darker color.
Not sure why I look so serious there. I toured the Palace of Sintra, and then I hiked up a mountain to get to Castelo dos Mouros, a medieval Moorish castle. Here is the view from one of the fortress outposts. I see the higher outpost in this pic and think, I want to go up there.
Then I walked to the top of the mountain, to get to that outpost.
In this picture you can see the outpost I took the previous picture from:
And here's a lovely view of the sunset. I was internally a little scared that I would have to hike back down in the dark. By the time I got back to Sintra, it was dark.
My boyfriend is finally done with his work summit so we start sightseeing together. We go to Alfama so he can see it, and eat lunch at Ze da Mouraria. Then we go to Castelo de S. Jorge and I get to see the parts of it that were closed when I went because it had been so late.
Day 5 (last day)
We go to Belem and get the pasteis de nata, and tour the inside of the Tower of Belem. We share a bottle of wine during lunch at A Marítima do Restelo and then spontaneously Uber to Cascais with my boyfriend's work friend.
Cascais is right by the ocean. We visit the "Mouth of Hell", a grotto, by the ocean.
Here is a view right next to it:
We visit Parque do Marechal Carmona, a strange park with a ton of chickens, geese, and ducks everywhere. Then we Uber to Praia do Guincho, a famous Portuguese beach popular with surfers.
Here you can see the beach and the westernmost point of mainland Europe in the distance.
It is almost Thanksgiving. I will most likely be alone for Thanksgiving this year because I have the plague. However I am grateful that I was able to take this trip. I learned that I can travel alone, which I'd never done before. I am excited to travel even more in the new year. Thank you for reading,