Portugal trip- part 1: Lisbon

Hi all,

Hope you’re having a great week. I’m so excited to be sharing my trip details with everyone, as this was truly a great trip.

So today- I will be sharing Lisbon.

The first full day that my mom and I were there, it was very rainy and windy and overall not a great day. However, we bought 3 Euro umbrellas and explored the sites anyways. My mom called them our pajama umbrellas, because they looked like old school pj’s.

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We walked around a few of the sites, including finding the main shopping street. It’s right off the water, and has some great shops. However, we stopped for lunch on the street which was a huge tourist fail, as the food was overpriced and not very tasty. I finally downloaded the app “4Squares” while on this trip, and I can’t believe it took me so long to download. We ate at 4Square recommended places for the rest of our time in Lisbon and the food was so much better!

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Lisbon is built on seven hills, with each hill being a different district of the city. This means while site seeing, it’s all up and down hills. I took a few pics of the hills we climbed but never seemed to be able to capture how steep some of these hills were, and how many stairs we were climbing. Definitely got our exercise during this trip, right from the first day when we went up to visit the castle.

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The views were always worth it though once we got to the top. Lisbon had beautiful sites with being right on the water, and all the buildings with the red roofs.

During one of our tours, the tour guide told us about an earthquake, which occurred in 1755. It was basically the perfect storm to have the most damage in the city. It occurred on 1 November, which is a religious holiday, and therefore most of the city inhabitants were at church when the earthquake struck. Because of all the candles lit in the churches, there were subsequent fires all over the city. For those who survived the earthquake, people met along the water edge as a safety point. Unfortunately, there was also a tsunami as a result of the earthquake, further increasing the death toll. Estimated death toll is between 30,000-40,000 people in Lisbon alone (out of the 200,000 inhabitants) and 85% of the city was destroyed, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.

After the earthquake, the city was rebuilt, and the Portuguese people hail Lisbon as being very modern and having wider streets and built in more of a grid system. Being from North America, I wouldn’t quite call it a grid system, but when you visit Porto, which had much less damage than Lisbon, you can see that Lisbon is indeed much more modern.

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While visiting the castle, we were first almost being blown over the edge it was so windy. Thankfully, within about 30 minutes of being there, the clouds started to part and we even got to see the sun.

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The picture below is the same day, literally 30 minutes after the picture above was taken. It was amazing how quickly it cleared up all of a sudden. The city seemed a different place once the sun came out.

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The next day, which was my birthday, we had signed up to take a day tour where we visited a few areas outside of Lisbon. First up was Sintra, where we saw Pena National Palace. I had read about the castle beforehand, but it was very different to see it in person. It truly felt like seeing a fairy tale castle, with the various colours and designs.

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After wandering around this beautiful castle for a couple of hours, we had a chance to stop for lunch and walk around Sintra itself. My mom and I ended up finding this hidden away restaurant, where a man was softly playing Spanish guitar, and the sun was shining, and we had a delicious bottle of green wine. We got so busy chatting away and enjoying our hidden spot, we ended up spending our entire time there, and never had a chance to explore the village much. It was a choice well made, as it felt like a small piece of heaven to hide away and just enjoy for a bit.

It was also the first time I had ever heard of “green wine”. We were later informed by our guide that it means “young wine”, and is not the type of grape, but rather refers to both an area that the wine is grown and the process in making the wine, as it is slightly carbonated. Not enough to count as “sparkling wine” but it ends up very refreshing and light tasting.

After our lazy lunch, and delicious wine, we met back up with our group and headed to the most Western point of continental Europe, Cabo da Roca. It was beautiful to just walk around for a little bit and enjoy the flowers, sunshine and hearing the water crash over the sandy beach below.

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We finished up the tour with a quick stop to the sandy beaches of Cascais. We had 30 minutes to dip our feet in the sand (and have a quick bite of ice cream) before we ended our tour and headed back into Lisbon.

 

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After the tour, my mom and I headed back to our hotel for a quick 30 minute recharge period (where I played on my phone, and my mom played on my iPad) before we headed back out for a birthday dinner. We sat and chatted so late at the restaurant that night, that eventually the waiter had to tell us they were closed. You be noticing a trend with our chatting- my mom and I are both big talkers, and since we don’t see each other very often, when we do have a chance to spend some time together, we take full advantage and just talk and talk, and really catch up with each other. It’s glorious. On that night, we later realised it was past midnight and we had been there for over 3 hours.

We headed back to the hotel and chatted for just a bit longer, before heading to bed as we had an early morning the next day, with a tour of food and wine throughout Lisbon.

Unfortunately, that day, my camera battery was dying so I don’t have many pictures. However, it was a great tour to do. We started the day with stopping at a Portuguese cafe , having a coffee and some pastry. We wandered over to the main shops in Lisbon, where we sampled some marmalade and cheese, with a taster of port (more on that in my trip to Porto though, the home of port). We then wandered up a hill (no surprise there- remember, it was all hills), to have a beer and sit in the shade for a little bit. Finally, we took a boat over to the other side of Lisbon, and had a fish appetizer ( cod cakes, which I cannot say I was a fan of at all), with some green wine.

We headed back to Lisbon, where we stopped into the church below, which had burnt in a fire and they have rebuilt the ceiling and floor, but left the burnt columns in.

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After a couple of busy site seeing days, we had a very relaxing evening that night, and enjoyed a dinner at a close restaurant near to our hotel, and went to bed early. We were very lazy the next day, and slept in late and had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel. We had a kitchen, so we had bought some of the oranges from a street market, and they were potentially the best oranges I have ever had.

Finally, we were ready to leave the hotel and see the final sites that we wanted to see while in Lisbon- the area in Belem for the monastery, tower, and have some delicious pastries.

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We walked along the waterfront for a bit as well, which I tried to capture the fisher’s rods all along the water- but I think you can really only see it in the picture below if you look really, really closely. But there were about 50 rods all along the edge.

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I was really excited to see Belem Tower, because to me, it looks like a giant sand castle whenever I’ve seen it in pictures before. And in person- that’s still exactly what it looks like. I was not disappointed!

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We wandered around for a bit, including the basement which (I think) was a holding cell. Thank goodness I didn’t have to stay in the basement for long because the tower was not built for those as tall as me, as I had to seriously crouch down in that room.

As a side note, I was definitely much taller than most Portuguese people! I’m usually taller than most people (as I am 5’11) but I was often stared at in Portugal, and I received a few comments from locals. Nothing like having people stare and point at you wherever you go 😛

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The Belem Tower was beautifully built, as it was historically the entrance to Lisbon. The details of it were absolutely stunning. Plus the views weren’t too bad either 🙂  DSC05172

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The next day we were up pretty early, as we were flying to Porto, which is in the North of Portugal. However, I’ll save the details of that part of the trip until next time!

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Has anyone else been to Portugal? I’d love to hear your thoughts of your trip!

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6 thoughts on “Portugal trip- part 1: Lisbon

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