We visited Portugal last November. We spent three days in Lisbon, which was broken by a visit to Oporto in between, one day in Lisbon, followed by two days in Oporto followed by two days back in Lisbon.
Here’s what we did in our three days there.
Day 1 started with taking a train from the airport to Intendente station, which involved a train transfer but it was fairly straightforward and easy. Tickets at the counter were to be bought for in cash only; we weren’t sure about the machines and had questions, so went that route.
We were staying here but since we arrived early than the normal check-in times, we checked in our luggage at their main office at Av. Alm. Reis 6.
As soon as we got off the station and walked towards their office, we were already in love with the azulejos.
On reaching the office, a quick chat with the host there, a little bit of refreshing baby K and we were on our way out.
We grabbed some bananas and grapes for baby K, who was jet lagged, tired and sleepy. The walkers that we are, we started walking towards Avenida da Liberdade eventually to head to Parque Eduardo VII and Praça Marquês de Pombal. Enroute, we walked past the Campo Mártires da Pátria and Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central.
The Avenida da Liberdade was beautifully lined with tile designs. We were in awe of these street tile design art at every nook and corner in Lisbon.
It was a long, long walk. And it was quite warm. The only pair of booties that I wore (and carried) for the trip seemed a bit much. But hey! No complaining for the great weather we had there during November. Not that we knew that this would be warmer than New York, but based on what I’d read, November is also a rainy time. And it could get cold there.
We also saw that it was quite a hilly city. More to come later in the day, but moving the stroller along the cobbled streets wasn’t as easy. We gave the stroller a ditch for the next two days and had the baby carrier for baby K.
Continuing to admire the tile designs along the avenue, we finally got to Praça Marquês de Pombal and eventually Parque Eduardo VII. You’ll see plenty of photos of this neatly manicured park when you look up Lisbon online. We took a few photos, and for the lack of time, and hunger (it was past 1:30 PM), we continued to our next destination.
That was supposed to be a lunch place that was closed that day for lunch. This was a Saturday. So, off we walked to my next bookmarked place. And this was the toughest walk. It involved lots of staircase climbing. Baby K was asleep in his stroller. We had his diaper bag which was fairly heavy with all the change of clothes and diapers and all. And a big backpack for the camera and stuff. But we managed. To carry the stroller up those umpteen steps at more than one location. Only to reach our restaurant of choice. The things that you do for the love of food.
It took us a little bit of looking around to find this restaurant, but we were glad we did. Baby K was up by the time we got there and he seemed to have a good time there. More about the restaurant on my restaurant blog bonvivant.
After satiating our hungry tummies, we resumed our strolling. Next up was Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, a nice plaza area that offered good views of the city. After a few photos and baby K enjoying the mud and dust there, we proceeded to Elevador da Glória, where we waited for one of those trams on our way downhill. Not to sit on it, but to get one of those classic photos that I’d seen online. Just when the tram was at that perfect angle, a random person photo bombed my shot!
Not wanting to wait for another one, we continued to Rossio Square. Not realizing it was the Rossio station, we admired the building. And the square looked pretty too. Hustling and bustling, we found our way to the Santa Justa lift. It was where we found the first set of Indian tourists there in line. Up we went, the ride was little. But the views, pretty. Incuding the Carmo Convent across. It was starting to get dark, but we got good photos in the twilight.
It was essentially a wrap for us from there, since we hadn’t slept well in the flight and were tired, but of course wanted to touch Cafe A Brasileira. This is around 7 PM. En route to there, we had to force our way through the busy market area that supposedly had pre Christmas carols and decorations. I must’ve asked the hubster to wait at least 20 minutes for what seemed like a live grand carol and tree lighting, but it turned out to be quite a sud.
So did the cafe. It had live music outside and the place had a fun and frolic vibe. Read more about it on my restaurant blog here
Anyway, this all seemed to be quite a waste of time given I wasn’t all that hungry. Nor the hubster. But wanted to cross it off my list. Across from where we sat, United Colors of Benetton was apparently having their new collection party, so I joined them shortly for a free drink and then we ubered our way to the Portugal Ways office, and eventually to the apartment.
The streets were one of the narrowest, told our very kind Uber driver. I don’t think we would’ve found the place that easily. It was good, but very ruralish. Yet urbanisque. Different. Nothing like I’ve been to, before.
This was past 9 PM. Remember, I told you had I skipped the cafe, we could’ve been here an hour and a half earlier. But it’s me. And this is my idea of a vacation. Do it all. More like eat it all – you’ll realized. But you get the drift, right?
The place looked cozy and it was good to take off the shoes, fold legs and sit, if only for a bit. Then, the next task was to feed baby K the left overs from the lunch, because he hadn’t eaten well then, and not for the rest of the day.
Then, we could’ve wrapped sooner and showered and slept, but we lazily continued and ended up watching some silly Bollywood movie as we unpacked and repacked for the next day’s early morning train to Porto.
More about it in my Porto diary (coming up soon), but this was the end of day 1 and first leg of Lisbon.
The second leg of Lisbon was a couple of days later, when we came back from Porto. This time, we stayed here.
This was planned given what I was planning to cover on day 1 and what I was planning to cover on the second two days. I was, of course, delayed, on day 1. So, had to go back to that side, but this wasn’t as inconvenient. Not the most ideal spot, but not very inconvenient either.
We started off that day (late, after checking in and all) by taking tram 15 to Belem. This was included in the transportation pass that we bought.
We hadn’t eaten breakfast, so Pastéis de Belém | bonvivant was going to be our first stop. While walking to there, we walked past Palácio de Belém, the presidential palace. It was pretty and pink. After eating, we continued to
Jerónimos Monastery. It was a beautiful Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monastery was designed in a manner that later became known as Manueline: a richly ornate architectural style with complex sculptural themes incorporating maritime elements and objects discovered during naval expeditions, carved in limestone.
Baby K had a fun time playing with all the mud there.
After here, we checked the cathedral – real quick next to it, and continued to walk through an underpass to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos or the Discoveries Monument, by the Tagus river.
It represents a three-sailed ship ready to depart, with sculptures of important historical figures such as King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, poet Camões holding verses from The Lusiads, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, cartographers, and cosmographers, following Prince Henry the Navigator at the prow holding a small vessel. The only female is queen Felipa of Lancaster, mother of Henry the navigator, the brain of the discoveries.
The pavement in front of the monument is decorated with a mosaic that was offered by the South African government in 1960, representing a compass with the map of the world charting the routes taken by the Portuguese explorers.
I wasn’t keen on going up, but the hubster insisted and I’m glad he did. That compass mosaic looked gorgeous and offered a great view of the famed Portugese tiles. Not the azures, but the ones that line the streets.
The walk next was to Torre de Belém – Belém Tower. This was hyped. I mean it serves as a symbol of the country and was a fortress to guard the Lisbon harbor, but we ended up spending quite some time going up, all the while wearing baby K, waiting, taking photos so on and so forth.
You could see the Cristo Rei.
With our eating schedules for a toss, and baby K’s for an even bigger toss, after stepping out, A insisted on eating a little something by the cafe there. Read about it here. A wanted to wait for some sunset shots and I wanted to get back to the city center while twilight was still in place. But that didn’t happen.
Wrapping up from here, taking photos on the bridge that we had to cross to get a tram, and then another to the city center, tired us a little.
But we weren’t deterred and continued to Praça do Comércio. I love to be out in the summers as we have longer days which means you could do more. In this trip, I realized that those things look good at night too. It’s a different perspective. I still favor the sunlight, but it was a good experience roaming about in the night lights.
We got here after at least one tram change and spend quite some time taking photos (the hubster is into photography). Then, we went a little around to find eat here. It wasn’t the most straight forward way back to the apartments, but I just didn’t want to eat at the Praça do Comércio restaurants knowing they might be touristy.
After the meal, we headed to the apartments and retired for the day.
As I mentioned earlier, the plan was to do the Castello in the first leg, as I was staying close to there, but that didn’t happen. So, I had to go there again, this morning. I didn’t want to leave it for the evening as we also wanted to go to Sintra.
We tried some roasted chestnuts, that vendors were selling all over the city. That day, I also tried Ginjinha, a Portugese liqeur, where ginja berries are infused with alcohol, and served in regular or chocolate cups. I tried the one in chocolate cup. This was about EUR 2.5. Most other places, a full glass of port wine was EUR 2.5! But I had to try it. There is no way I would not not have!
Castello was kind of rushed up, but we did it. It seemed a bit hyped and I thought the views from the Santa Justa lift and Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara were just as good.
Actually, I thought the views from Miradouro de Santa Luzia could’ve been as good and this was a bit of a mis-organization or lack of organization on my part that we ended up going there only late at night, after just taking a bus from one of the city to the other, and back.
Coming back to earlier in the day, after Castello, we Ubered to the Rossio station and took a train to Sintra. Ended up getting off one stop before (accidentally) and trying to be the good samaritans, woke up another couple who we were also trying to get to Sintra, we guessed. We were right in that, only that we were all off a stop earlier. But the next train wasn’t that far, and we took that to the there.
After we got off there, we didn’t know what exactly to do to get to the Pena Palace, but it was easy to figure just which bus route ticket we wanted to buy. I loved the custard tarts so much that I had one and a glass of wine at one of the tiny joints right there, and we were good to go.
Pena Palace was nice and colorful. We spent quite a good amount of time there. The husband likened it to real life Disney castle.
And then, by 3 or so, we reached the town of Sintra. The plan was to have a quick bite and continue to Park and Palace of Monserrate. But our lunch turned out to be long and when we began to get on the bus, the driver told us that the palace was then closed. And I was so disappointed.
But that meant more time in the Lisbon city. So, we went. The hubster wanted to grab some coffee, so we went here. Then a bus around the city, then Miradouro de Santa Luzia and then a dinner here and then to the apartments. With that, we almost wrapped up Lisbon, heading to the airport to catch a flight to Sevilla next morning.
Enjoy the photos here –