Lisbon & Sintra ExperienceA plane ride, a 6 hr train excursion through the countryside, and a short drive later, I finally made it to the beautiful coastal town of Lisbon, Portugal.
Lisbon, Lisbona, Lisboa; whatever you choose to call it is home of many amazing and worthwhile excursions that my family and I got to conquer this weekend.
We started off our 4 day adventure by taking the first day in the city to get our bearings and wander through the historical streets of the town. Our apartment that we rented on Airbnb was located 2 minutes from the center of the city which was quite handy, for we had access to all the astounding and historical sites that Lisbon is known for. While strolling the streets, we came across the Rua Agusta Arch (which to me, looks very similar to the Arch de Triomf in Paris), the Praca Do Comercio (reminding me a lot of the main square in Nice, France), saw a glimpse of the Sao Jorge Castle, and of course, took a ride on the famous funiculars and trams.
The following day in Lisbon, we decided to do a bus tour and see what else was to offer outside of the main square. Lisbon, being a big city and all, it quite hard to walk from destination to destination due to the time it would take, so we found this idea a genius one. While on the bus we learned a lot about its culture and where it all began and were able to jump on and off if we so wished. On one of the stops, my mom and I decided to get off and explore one of the little towns. While there we came across a famous pastry shop, Pasteis de Belem, that is known for Lisbon’s famous treat; Portuguese custard cups. Not only was this a great treat as a mid-day snack, but the anticipation of waiting in line for so long made it worth the wait, for it was quite delicious. After doing some shopping, we then decided to do a wine tasting at one of the wine shops there in the town. Since Portugal is known for Port wine, we thought we would give it a try. I personally, am not a fan of Port wine, for it tasted more like Brandy or Whiskey to me than actual wine, but my mom definitely enjoyed it. Lesson learned… don’t order 6 glasses of wine if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. Once or tasting was over we hoped back on the bus and headed back to the main square for some dinner and night strolling to see the Christmas decorations and then called it a night.
Having been in Lisbon for 2 days, we decided as a family to take a day trip to another part of Portugal; Sintra. In Sintra they are known for having some of the most historical castles in the country of Portugal, so of course we had to visit a few. We started off the castle excursion at the National Palace, which was located on the half way point of the beginning of the town and the top of the mountain. It was quite beautiful inside but the thing that I noticed was that there was not a lot of upkeep that went into keeping the castle in perfect condition. Yes it was quite beautiful, but the buildings, being white, seemed very dirty and the ponds were not kept clean. The overall interior though was quite something. With the use of Islamic influence to decorate the inside, it was quite spectacular whether it came to the wall paper or the furniture. The second castle we visited, the Castle of the Moors, was more of a fortress than a castle. It was used for military men to keep watch of the sea and the land in case of an attack. Though there was not much to it, the view was spectacular and you were able to see a 360 view of the city and the ocean. The third and final castle that rested at the top of the hill was by far the most beautiful of them all. Known as the Pena National Palace, it is one of the most well known castles in Portugal and was marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only is this palace gigantic, but there is also so much detail and design that went into the construction of this palace. It was quite marvelous to walk through and I have to say that after seeing this castle I am a big fan of the Islamic architecture that influenced a lot of Spain and Portugal. Having been hiking up mountains to and from castle to castle we were quite exhausted and famished so the family embarked back to Lisbon and to one of the most well known eating places there, Time Out Market. Housing some of the most well known chefs in Portugal, this market is home to 12 different restaurant booths that you can frolic back and forth to and try some of Portugal’s most famous foods. For a foodie, this was by far my favorite part of the while trip!
On my fourth and final day we visited the castle that is seated on top of the mountain in Lisbon, the Sao Jorge Castle. The hike to the top of its entrance was quite a struggle but definitely worth the views and sites in the end.
Having had Portugal on my travel bucket list, I am very glad to have gotten to check one more destination off before I head back to the States.