Lisbon (and Sintra), Portugal

By Stove

Lisbon, Lisbon, Lisbon.

It’s been days since we left and we still aren’t sure what to think of you…but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In Porto, we made an immediate connection to the city, but upon arriving in Lisbon, we found it big, fast, and ready to leave you behind if you weren’t up for the challenge.  As we got off our train, we emptied into a bustling station and located a cab to take us to our AirBnB.  About 30 minutes into our cab ride we had made it only 1/2 a mile from the train station battling bumper to bumper traffic and since the meter just kept running and we were making no progress, we decided to hop out and hoof it the remaining 1.5 miles to our Lisbon home.  This 1.5 mile jaunt was made all the more difficult by the fact that Lisbon is incredibly hilly (think San Francisco) and we were lugging our 40+ pound packs in 90 degree heat, but alas we made it to our AirBnB.

Our Lisbon home was located in a diverse neighborhood called Rato which contained a beautiful Portuguese government building, a Nepalese Restaurant, some very high-end home decor shops and a building that we later came to find out was housing a marching band practice for an upcoming Lisbon festival (their practice time was exclusively midnight-1:30 A.M).  Overall, we loved this AirBnB, it’s location and our amazing hosts Jon and Inga (Jinga!).

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View from the top of the Alfama

Our time in Lisbon was spent exploring the Alfama, eating incredibly tasty grilled fresh fish (O’Tachados & Le Petit Cafe), perusing the grounds of Sao Jorge Castle, and strolling the banks of the Tejo river (which we actually thought was the ocean…).  Our last day in Lisbon, we took a train 45 mins west of the city to a town called Sintra which is on the edge of a huge Portuguese national park, Parque Natural de Sintra-Caiscais.  The park is host to multiple castles and museums, but we spent all our time in Pena Palace (it’s huge) and then venturing down into the many paths of the Valley of the Lakes behind the palace.  The palace and park were what you might say a real life version of Narnia is like.  A huge painted stone palace on a mountain overlooking a vast forest filled with massive evergreens and tiny little lakes and streams eventually leading to the Atlantic.

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The final night in Lisbon, we needed to get our pizza fix, so we hit up the highest rated pizza spot in town, Forno d’Oro.  Since we did not have reservations, we decided to go for an early dinner (which is about 8:30 P.M. in Portugal) and luckily we got the last two top.  The pizza hit the spot and we returned to our AirBnB just in time to find our hosts opening up a couple of bottles of wine with their friend from Finland.  Being the incredibly gracious hosts they are they invited us to join, and we spent the rest of the night exchanging stories and learning about their fascinating lives (as well as feeling really unimpressive in the fact that we speak only English).  It was a great end to our adventures in Portugal.

Lisbon was a fascinating city, and I think part of our hesitation to give it a glowing endorsement is in due to the fact that it is so big, and 3 days does not hardly scratch the surface of life their.  We will have to return one day and give it the time and respect it deserves, but for now, we have other fish to fry (or maybe rather Tapas to eat)…off to Sevilla!

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Riding back down the mountain in our first tuk-tuk!

 

 

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