Lisbon – March 2015

I’m really not used to Andrew having this much time off.  Believe me, he still works a lot when he is at work, but employees get time off and are expected to take it.  This is a check in the “pro” column to living in France.  Like with living in any place, or with anything, there are always pros and cons, but I choose to focus on the good.  So, let’s move on to the good!

Lisbon kept popping up on my radar as a place I wanted us to visit.  I had heard good things from others that I had met around Paris, so we decided to head there in March.  We used EasyJet to fly into town and opted to take a taxi from the airport since we arrived so late.  It didn’t seem like the best idea to be wandering around the winding streets in the dark while trying to find our apartment.  When we saw how confusing the streets would have been for us that first night, we knew we had made the right decision.

Our apartment was located in the Alfama District.  We used AirBNB to book the room.  I really liked the fact that we were in an older neighborhood.  Below is a picture of the apartment during the daytime:

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On our first morning, our host brought us fresh bread and told us that we could use anything in the kitchen.  This was such a nice touch!  And the fresh bread continued over the next few days.  The first and main thing on our agenda that day was our day trip outside of Lisbon with the We Hate Tourism crew.  Check out their van:

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Once all of the people in our group arrived, the eight of us climbed in the van and headed toward Sintra.  The first stop in Sintra was at a small café called Fábrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa.

This café has been around since 1756.  We tried the bite-sized queijadas, which are prepared using cheese or Requeijão, eggs, milk, sugar, and cinnamon – kind of a custardy filled tart.  We also tried a travesseiro, which means “large pillow” in Portuguese.  The pastry is filled with an egg and almond cream.  Andrew and I enjoyed both pastries and the coffee wasn’t too bad either.  All of that for around 5 euros!

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After a quick breakfast/coffee break, we were allowed to wander the streets of Sintra.

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We stopped to sample the Licor de Ginja.  Ginja is a Portuguese liqueur made by infusing ginja berries (sour cherry) in alcohol and adding sugar together with other ingredients.  The liqueur was served in a chocolate shot glass.

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We wandered some more…

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Outside the Palace of Sintra:

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The fog surrounding the palaces atop the hill…I believe it is the Pena National Palace and the Castle of the Moors.

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Abandoned palace grounds – for sale!

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After wandering the streets of Sintra, we headed to visit one of the palaces – Quinta da Regaleira.  Out of all the palaces in Sintra, this was the one I had wanted to visit!

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The grounds were so beautiful!  I cannot imagine what it would have been like to spend a summer here.

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We came across this monument (known as Portal of the Guardians) and discovered there was a tunnel behind it.

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We followed it all the way to one of the Initiation Wells.  The well resembles an underground tower with stairs, and never served as a water source, but was used for ceremonial purposes.

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There are other tunnels on the grounds that connect this well to the other well and with other caves and monuments throughout the park.  We also came across this other entrance to the tunnels.

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We loved walking around that place and wished we had had more time because I know we did not get to see everything – that’s the only downside of going with a tour group.

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We also popped into the actual palace too, initially to see the library, but they had just closed it.  But we still got to see other parts of the palace (minus most furniture because it was sold years ago).

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After visiting the palace, we all packed up and headed to Cabo da Roca to view “The Edge of the World” as I have been referring to it, but it is simply the most western point of Europe (not counting islands).

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Then we had a nice lunch out of the back of the van.  Delicious strawberries!

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Our next stop was Cascais.  We sampled the gelato at Santini.  It was pretty good.

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And then we wandered the streets for a bit.

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My kind of sardines…

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I love the sidewalks.

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The last stop on our journey was in Belém.  We were allowed to walk around for about 15 minutes while our driver ran to get us a tasty treat.  Andrew and I chose to walk around the outside of the Jerónimos Monastery.

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Our tasty treat from Pastéis de Belém 🙂

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And last, but not least, our awesome tour group (driver included on the far right):

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Once we were dropped off at the starting point in Lisbon, Andrew and I decided to walk around for a bit.

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We ended up down by the water and took a seat to listen to the music.  Click here for a listen.

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We spotted some neat street art by Pixel Pancho.

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More of the scenery around Lisbon…winding staircases.

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We also came across a little street art paying homage to the events that occurred in Paris that January.

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There were street performers and musicians all throughout the city – here is another one we came across.  Click the link to listen.

We ate dinner that night at a place not far from our apartment.  They had fish displayed in the window.  The food was pretty good.

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We accidentally ordered a bottle of wine, but it ended up being pretty cheap.

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I uncovered a smiley face on the table and take a look at the cute napkin that a previous guest wrote on.  They have a lot of them hanging up on one of the walls.

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On Wednesday morning we decided to do a little walking, which ended up being a lot of walking and I wore the wrong shoes (that was a big mistake).  Note to travelers:  Lisbon is full of winding streets and hills (lots and lots of hills).  We made our way up to some view points over the city.

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Love locks are here too!

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More pictures from our walk:

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I love the tiles.

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The metro system is fairly new compared to others (if I remember correctly).  So most of the areas were a lot cleaner compared to the Paris metro (that is the one I am most familiar with) and they were decorated as well.

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We took the metro out to a market called Mercado de Alvalade Norte.  Andrew had seen that Anthony Bourdain had visited.

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It is amazing how the old buildings and new buildings seem to merge together.

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Afterwards we kept walking and walking and finally came across some more life-sized street art.  The art was pretty cool, but I had thought it covered more than just a few buildings, so that was kind of a let-down.

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As we were walking I noticed that one of the metro stops looked a lot like the ones in Paris.  Upon closer inspection, we realized that this was a gift to Lisbon from Paris.

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On our walk back we stopped and had a forgettable lunch…fish in the window is not always a good sign ha ha.  But hey, we can’t win them all.  The cheese and sangria was pretty good, so there’s that.

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We walked on with our bellies full to the Aqueducts.  The structure was pretty cool, but we didn’t have time that afternoon to go inside and decided we would try to come back another day.

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The next thing on our list that day was to make it to Tease Bakery.  On our way we passed through Jardim Estrela.

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But eventually we made it to our destination!  Tease Bakery!  The tea and cupcakes were very good and reasonably priced (well at least compared to Paris).

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When we were walking to Tease Bakery, we began to notice several people with ice cream and wondered to ourselves, “Where is that coming from???”  The little ice cream shop was called Gelateria Nannarella and was located on the same street as the bakery.

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And of course we stopped and got some ice cream, even after the cupcakes…please don’t judge us too harshly.  This ice cream was so delicious and a lot cheaper than any of the other we had the whole trip.  I loved stopping here because it looked more like a local place to get ice cream.  I’m not sure if that is entirely accurate, but it felt like it to me and made the experience even better.  One funny thing to note is that as we were walking and eating our ice cream and man gestured to Andrew asking him in Portuguese where he got the ice cream (at least that’s what we assumed he was talking about).  Andrew pointed down the street and he was on his way and smiling.

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We picked up a bottle of port to enjoy the rest of our nights in Lisbon.

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The sunset was beautiful that night.

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We had dinner that night at Taberna da Rua das Flores.  The food was good.  However, one thing to note about Lisbon is that a lot of places only accept cash.  This restaurant was like that.  We would have ordered more, but didn’t have a lot of cash on us at the moment.  It was funny because the waiter told us that no cash was okay and that we could pay later or even tomorrow.  It was pretty easy going, but we decided to just stay within the limits of what cash we had on hand.

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Here is a great shot of the church near our apartment at night.

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The next day (Thursday), we decided to ride Tram 28.

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We took it all the way to Mercado de Campo de Ourique.  Our goal was to get some delicious cheese and bread to snack on right then and later in the day.

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After a quick snack, we made our way back to the Aqueducts (Museu da Água).  The Águas Livres Aqueduct was completed in 1799 and aimed to ensure water supply to Lisbon.  It is just a museum now, to my understanding.

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We were able to go up top for a great view of Lisbon.  The Aqueducts were neat, but not quite what we had expected.  If we had to do it over, we may have skipped going back.

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Our next journey was through Tapada das Necessidades.

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Then we jumped on a bus out to Belém to visit the Belém Tower.

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It was very windy up there – you can really tell in this picture.  Just look at that wild mane of hair!

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We also walked down to see the Padrão dos Descobrimentos.  This monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries.

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I love the sidewalks!

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Here is a picture of the fountain in front of the Jerónimos Monastery.

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And we had to stop and get some more Pastéis de Belém aka pastel de natas.

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Once back in Lisbon, we made a small visit to Carmo Convent.  This mediaeval convent was ruined in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.

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Interesting artwork on the streets of Lisbon.

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We decided that a good place to watch the sunset would be from São Jorge Castle.  Before settling in to watch the sunset, we wandered around the grounds for a bit.

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And I shot some video of the peacocks.  Click here to watch.

We picked up our wine to enjoy with our view from “wine with a view” and settled in for the sunset.

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Here are a few more pictures after the sunset:

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That night we ate at a restaurant that had Fado music.  The music was nice for us, but the food not so much.

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On Friday morning, we made our way to O Trevo to try a bifana.  The bifana was pretty tasty.

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After our tasty bifana, we decided that we were due for some more walking and hit the streets yet again.

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We found the Pink Street – utterly disappointing.  I should have done more research…it is just a party spot and the street is painted pink.  I’m not really sure what I had had I mind.

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On a friend’s tip, we checked out Conserveira de Lisboa.  Andrew picked out some sardines to take home.

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I was craving some ice cream, so we decided to give Gelato Therapy a try.  The gelato was very good, but still not as good as Gelateria Nannarella in my opinion.

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Tram 28!!

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A great mural not far from our apartment…

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Andrew still hadn’t fulfilled his sardine craving so we decided to check out Loja das Conservas as well.

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I decided that our trip would not be complete without a trip out to view Cristo-Rei up close and personal.  We hopped on a ferry and walked the long walk up to our destination (note to others: take the bus if you are in a hurry).

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A view of Lisbon from the ferry.

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Some of the trash cans in Lisbon were painted.  Can you guess Andrew’s favorite?  Ha ha.

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For Friday night’s dinner, we ate at Tasca da Esquina.  We each had a tasting menu.  This was one of our favorite meals!

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It was a nice ride back to our apartment on Tram 28.

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On our last morning in Lisbon, Andrew decided that we should get up early and walk down to see the sunrise.

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Again, I love the streets in Lisbon!

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We had breakfast at a small café.

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Afterwards, we made our way to the Thieves Market.  Here are some pictures of our journey along the way.

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And now we are at the Thieves Market!  Yes in this first photo, you could be the proud owner of a dildo vase 🙂

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And more of Tram 28…we aren’t obsessed one bit.  Look at the narrow streets!

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The cutest little old ladies!

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Our last meal in Lisbon was at Atalho Real.  Atalho in a nutshell includes a professional butcher, an experienced chef, and importing of the best meat – where could one go wrong?   With this place, there was no way to go wrong.  The food was excellent and the servers were the best!  A great note to end on.

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I know that I just said end in the last paragraph, but we did try one more treat on our walk back and that was Cartuchos do Príncipe.  The treat was just okay – I guess we should have just ended with lunch 🙂

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Lisbon was a great trip and I’m happy that we were able to visit!

One last photo of me dropping 2 postcards in the mail to my parents and Andrew’s parents.  Since I am writing this almost 3 months later, I know that both cards eventually arrived!  Sometimes the mail here is uncertain…

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