When we arrived in Lisbon, we had a few hours to kill before checking in, so we headed towards Cascais, where we had read that there was a beach.
When we arrived, we found a park and went for a wander. The weather wasn’t looking that pleasant, so we left our swimming gear in the car. Across the road and over the train line, we discovered the beach! It was pretty windy but still beautiful.
We had lunch looking out over the beach, and I had a delicious salted grilled salmon with salad, it was amazing (so amazing I forgot to take a photo).
We had all sorts of dramas trying to find a car park, but eventually after a few tense moments in the car, we settled on an outdoor car park that looked like it was near our apartment. Thankfully it was, and we checked in with no drama.
We found our apartment on house trip http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/227497 and it was absolutely amazing. Beautifully decorated and in the best location. I can’t recommend it more highly.
This was Suzi’s bedroom:
And our kitchen!
There were also two bathrooms, a dining room and a living room. We looked out over a large church, and it was just a beautiful place to call home for a few days.
This is a shot of the front of the church, we looked out over the right side of it from our apartment. You can also see one of the iconic Lisbon trams trundling past on the left.
And here are some of the beautiful paintings and stain glassed windows inside the church.
We were quite excited that Dan’s sister Suzi was en route to meet up with us and travel with us for a couple of weeks. Given that finding a car park had been quite challenging, we decided to catch the metro to the airport! That was very easy and we got there with plenty of time before Suzi was due to land.
We waited in the arrivals hall, and it was very exciting when we spied her coming through the doors!! It was a lovely reunion and so nice to see her.
It was funny having caught the train there, and then taking Suzi back to the apartment – it felt just as if we lived there and were showing her around, even though we’d only arrived ourselves a few hours earlier!!
We settled in for a quiet night as Suzi was fresh off a rowdy, fast paced tour and was grateful for a night in – we just snacked, drank some wine and caught up swapping travel stories.
The next morning we had eggs and bacon for brekky, cooked expertly by Dan. It was lovely to eat in and sit at our dining table.
Hop on hop off bus
We bought a 2 day ticket for the hop on hop off bus, in big cities it really is just the easiest way to see the main sights and get your bearings.
In the more boring sections Dan got into a selfie taking groove, taking some silly shots! It kept us entertained anyway.
On the first day we went around the central parts of the city, and out to Belem, where there is a beautiful monastery, a port, quite a few museums and galleries, and the original Portugese tart bakery – Pasteis De Belem. Apparently they sell up to 20,000 tarts a day!!! We didn’t get out but I remembered the area reasonably well from the last time I was there (9 years ago). If we had more time we definitely would have spent some time in that beautiful area.
The centre of Lisbon is really lovely, with big wide streets, large squares, monuments and beautiful buildings.
Many buildings are decorated with tiles of all different colours, sizes and patterns. Although a lot of buildings are a little bit rundown, it somehow just adds to the charm.
Dan had read about a new food hall / market that had only opened a few months earlier, the Time Out Mercado da Ribeira. It was on our hop on, hop off bus tour route, and so we stopped off with very hungry bellies ready for lunch.
The place is a huge converted building, it feels a bit like the food and wine festival held in Hobart, Tasmania over New Years, but it’s a permanent fixture. You wander around each of the stalls and buy little bits and pieces from the different food stalls.
We had croquettes at a croquette bar, Dan had about 3 different burgers, and I had a slow cooked pork with crackling and sweet potato puree.
And of course, we finished off with some Portugese tarts from an award winning bakery, Aloma. We were so full at the end of our eating session!
On the way out of the market, we noticed a shop selling Ginjinha shots. We’d heard about this cherry liqueur watching Anthony Bourdain, so we all grabbed a shot to try. It was delicious! Nowhere near as strong as I’d expected, it was a nice way to wash down our long lunch.
The next day we also wandered past the original Ginjinha shop, and we couldn’t resist! The cherries that were inside the bottle were SO strong, I had to spit mine out haha. But the liqueur was once again really delicious.
Fado is a type of Portugese music that is sung by a female, accompanied by a guitar and sometimes a couple of other instruments. It is soulful, mournful and emotive. We all loved it and went to see Fado after dinner a couple of times – sadly the few photos I took didn’t come out very well as the lights were always turned down very low when the Fado players were on, and I didn’t want to use a flash.
We also had dinner at a great little Portugese restaurant around the corner from us (I’m obviously slacking off the closer to the end of the holiday I get, as I can’t remember the name of the place!), and were treated to a wonderful jazz duo, the guitarist was seriously incredible and extremely talented.
We also had dinner one night at an Italian restaurant called Esperanca. I didn’t take any photos as I didn’t think it was blog worthy eating Italian in Portugal. I regretted it immediately though, as I had perhaps the best ravioli of my life. Ever. Amazing, like silk in my mouth!! We all loved our meals, it was a lovely little restaurant. I will remember that ravioli for years to come!
Two more random comments on Lisbon:
I mentioned the trams earlier in this post, they are really sweet trams and they are tiny compared to the ones in Melbourne, probably one third of the size. They trundle around the town slowly and often with people hanging off the sides.
Secondly, it would be remiss of me not to mention Bacalhau, or salted cod, which is absolutely everywhere in Lisbon. Crazy considering they are right on the water and can eat fresh fish every day if they like! We went to the supermarket a couple of times and the piles of bacalhau were enormous!!
I had heard many great things about Sintra, so we headed out there for half a day. We caught the train from the main station in Lisbon, which has these great horse shoe shaped entrances.
It took about 45 minutes to get to Sintra. We discovered a very pretty town, full of trees and plants and with some very beautiful buildings.
There’s also a small little town with winding roads and very good tourist shops (I mean that seriously, the quality of souvenirs was much better than in Lisbon).
When you arrive, there’s a big wide path from the station to the main town, with market stalls set up along the way, random art and a nice view out over the town.
We stopped off for lunch, and a bit of a wander around. One of the things I loved in Portugal was the beautifully packaged sardines, they are in these gorgeous retro packets, and they made me want to like sardines a whole lot more than I actually do.
Sintra was a really nice place to visit and I’m very glad I got to see it.
We were sad to leave Lisbon, but excited to be on our way up to Porto.
I’m quite far behind on my blog posts now! We’re in Il de Re at the moment which is just lovely, and off to Paris later on today. After that, we bid a sad farewell to Suzi and make our way to London!! Reality is about to bite!!