I am part Portuguese!
In my quest to find out if somewhere in my lineage I might be Portuguese, I couldn’t resist going back to Portugal to find answers. So when my friend mentioned that she was celebrating her birthday in Lisbon, guess who got excited?? YUP, you’re right – Me. I made it back to Lisbon for a weekend trip and I was able to enjoy the experience of visiting the same country twice and getting two different experiences. I’m going to focus this post on what I did differently from my previous post to Lisbon.
Where I visited: On my re-trip to Lisbon, my main goal besides turning up with my friend was to visit Sintra, a city about 30-45 minutes from Lisbon. This was such a great experience for me and brought new meaning to the concept of visiting the same place more than once and getting different experiences out of it. There is also something about going back to a place you have been to before; I felt very familiar with the city and comfortable navigating my way around town, I even volunteered to be a tour guide to the group :).
Where I stayed: I stayed at Travelers House again and I STILL loved it. My friends stayed at Mercy Hotel, a boutique hotel in the Bairo Alto district. I stayed there for one night as well and it is a really nice hotel. I liked the ambiance a lot – not a bad place, and really affordable if you want the hotel feel in Lisbon. Let’s jump right to the fun part.
How I Spent my days: Day 1/2: My first night was somewhat of a disaster. When I arrived in Lisbon, my bags were delayed and didn’t arrive until a day later. I had no clothes other than the ones on my back, so nothing to change into. (Upon reflection, although this made me sad, it also made me realize how immaterial a lot of things we value are.) The airport staff gave me an overnight kit with no body wash or soap in it, so I HAD to shower with shampoo! ( Just call it improvisation). Thank God for the awesome staff at the hostel – they made me forget about my lost bags and I had a great night sleep. The next morning, I headed to breakfast at the hostel lounge and met a nice guy from the Netherlands. We had a really great conversation that morning – definitely one to remember. One of my friends from NYC was visiting Portugal as well, so we met up and hung out for a bit before meeting with the group. Later that morning/early afternoon, we all went to grab a late breakfast at Vitaminas Garrett on Rua Garrett. After eating, we attempted to tour Lisbon with the sidecars. Not sure what we were thinking but when we realized we had to drive it ourselves, we opted out and decided to walk. Since I had visited before, I decided to take the rest of the group on a personalized tour of the old city! 🙂 We walked to Plaza Santa Ana and then to St George’s Castle.
Random guy entertaining the crowd
This peacock was there the last time I visited – glad to see you again my friend
After walking around the castle for a bit, we stopped at a coffee shop by the entrance of the castle, got some tarts and port wine. Later that day, I decided to head to the airport to get an update on my bag. I spent about 5 hours at the airport waiting and finally it arrived! I met up with the birthday girl at the airport and then we headed out to the city. Later that night, we headed out to the Bairro Alto district to experience the outdoor party night life in Lisbon – from birthday shots at Bar Ache, to roaming the streets, it was a fun night with great memories. Day 3: The next day, 9 people from the hostel went on the Sintra Tour (8 girls – myself and the others studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain – and 1 guy visiting from London but used to live in NYC. It was pretty much an American team). Our first stop was at the Park and Palace of Pena. We opted out of going into the Palace and we decided to talk a walk around the park. We walked our way to the top of Cruz Alta (highlight of Pena, in my opinion) and we stayed there for about 45mins enjoying the view and taking pictures. (I don’t know what the Palace entails but if you have to choose, I’d say the walking in the park and going to Cruz Alta is a must-do, and a better choice). The park is absolutely beautiful – they even have a lake with black and white swans in it. Me gustaba mucho.
After spending about 2 hours at the Park, we headed to the beautiful gardens called Quinta da Regaleira. Initially I was like, it’s probably just another park with another castle, but I’m glad I was wrong. It is remarkably magnificent – nature at its best. I guess there is a reason why they make these places tourist attractions after all. It is very romantic, yet adventurous – you get both. The walk from the entrance, then to the middle and finally to the end of the park was filled with moments of bliss that one can only get from nature’s beauty. We spent about 2 hours at the garden. We didn’t have enough time to make it into the palace, but walking around the park alone was pure bliss and it was totally worth the student discount price – I would totally go back. Thereafter, we headed into old romantic city of Sintra, to the historic downtown to eat lunch. We initially went to this traditional Portuguese restaurant but when we found out that they served horse meat on their menu, so we decided to leave immediately, “Vamos Vamos”! Like who honestly wants to eat a “horseburger”, definitely not me. (I’m adventurous, but not that adventurous.) The lady who owned the place cursed us out in Portuguese, but no one wants to eat a horseburger though – sheeshh. Luckily, we found an Indian/Italian place right in front of the restaurant, where we ate lunch. The food there was good – definitely worth the lunch menu price. After lunch, we drove around the coast line, then headed to Cabo Da Roca – this part of town is very popular for its lighthouse and the magnificent views (I’d come to learn later that Portugal has some amazing cliff views – more on my next post to Algarve, Portugal). The view from Cabo Da Roca is breathtaking and absolutely beautiful. I call it the #viewoflife. IT IS WORTH IT. We spent about 30 minutes there, then we continued driving along the coast and headed to Gishu Beach. By this time, we were all so exhausted that we didn’t get out of the car, and just enjoyed the view of the beach from the car. Surfers would totally love this place because the waves here are crazy amazing.
Our last stop on the day trip was to the city of Cascais. It is a beach town with lots of beach restaurants and bars. We stopped at Brisabar to grab drinks (cute little bar by the beach). Enjoyed the view of the port and the different restaurants from the location where the bar was – I just sat on the wall and kicked back – literally. At about 5:30 pm, we headed back to Lisbon.
Our Awesome Tour Guide
Later that night, my friends and I decided to look up top clubs to go to in Lisbon – Turn up time. We found a couple of places in the Cais do Sodre area, which was close to where we stayed. When we got there, we visited one or two spots but we didn’t like the music and crowd, so we decided to find something different. We were then informed about this beach nightclub called Ocean Beach, so we decided to head there. Our initial attempt to head to Ocean Beach was an epic fail. The GPS took us to a completely different location (on that note, don’t 100% trust your GPS in Portugal, like honestly, I’m not kidding. I’ve had other similar experiences. Make sure you know the exact address and put that location in). Anywhoo, we got lucky and eventually found a taxi guy who drove us there. The night didn’t turn out to be what we expected, but we made the most of it anyways (I guess this is how grown folks turn up 😦 ) – We did eat some seriously yummy hamburgers outside the club. Or maybe it was just late, and we were tired…but I wouldn’t mind one now 🙂
Friends that travel together, last forever 🙂
Day 4: This was travel day for everyone. I wasn’t too excited to be flying back to Malaga because of the plane. On our way, we flew one of those really small planes – a Beech 1900D Airliner. Like, this is seriously one of the smallest planes I’ve ever flown in my life and YES I’ve been on small planes but this one was just too small for me – I guess I got a private jet experience – No thank you. Although I must say, the flight back was more relaxing than scary. I think this is because I already knew what to expect, so my mind felt more comfortable during the flight. #Anotherlessonlearned: There shouldn’t be any reason to fear when you don’t even know what the journey feels like; relax and enjoy the ride while it lasts. After this wonderful trip to Lisbon, again, I was fully convinced that I’m part Portuguese. My innate love for the culture, the people, the food, the beaches, and the language almost perfectly fits as though I have some Portuguese lineage. Overall the trip was awesome (I feel like I say this about every trip hehe). I was really glad I got to visit Sintra and of course, getting reunited with my friends is always awesome.