Posts Tagged ‘ travel: por: lisbon ’

{LIS} in which it is foggy in the mountains of sintra.

So yesterday I woke up earl-yish to get ready for the tour to Sintra, an old Portuguese town north west of Lisbon. Met Andrew at breakfast and convinced him to come along on the trip.

We ended up leaving a bit behind schedule, but we seemed to make it up in good time.

Our driver Nunu dropped us off first at Pena Palace and the surrounding park area, which is at the top of one of the mountains of Sintra. (Ok, I should have a disclaimer that since I am doing this all on iTouch, I’m not checking things on wiki and google like I usually would. So this could all be entirely wrong!!)

We headed up first to the palace, in awe of all the mist that was on the mountain. No pictures inside the palace but it was well worth the visit. The rooms were all so cosy feeling compared to other royal residences I have seen. Fact: the Pena palace was the residence of the last three monarchs of Portugal.

After the palace, and after getting a little bit disoriented, we eventually made our way up to the cross, which marks the highest point of Sintra. On a good day you can apparently see all the way to Lisbon, but of course with all the mist we had… Definitely no luck!

After that, we headed down to the town to eat. I got some chicken, a little bit safe I know, but it was still really yummy. :) I also tried a typical Sintra style pastry, travesseiro. It was really good, with almonds and custard and stuff.

After lunch, we headed to the Regaleira Gardens, which comes with its very own network of (creepy) underground caves and tunnels, culminating in the Cave of the Orient, with its destination being the Initiatic Well, which somewhat resembles Dante’s Inferno. Then we headed back down, wandering around until we reached the mansion, which held a number of displays and exhibitions that explained the detailed planning and work that went into the building of the house as well as its surrounding grounds.

Once we finished exploring the gardens, it was time to go down the mountain, meandering through the mists of Sintra. And when we woke up we found ourselves at Cabo da Roca, the most western point of continental Europe! It as suuuuper windy, and then out of nowhere it started POURING!!! It definitely woke us up though!

A short drive later, and we found ourselves at the last stop of our tour, Cascais, a little beach town, on the way back to Lisbon. Needless to say, given the weather, we did not spend long there, but we did have enough time to snap a few pictures. :)

Back at the hostel, I bought some tarts from the bakery opposite the hostel, but they were hardly as good as the ones from Belém…!

I then decided to try to get up to St George’s Castle and have a look. Caught the old-school Lisbon tram up, and got off at a place with a nice viewpoint. But after stumbling around for a little, I realised that I was definitely in the wrong place. I did get a nice view of… some other part of the city though! And of course, as I was making my way back to the hostel, it started POURING again!

Got back to the hostel a bit drenched, and ran into Ben as he was leaving to meet up with C+N for dinner. So I quickly got changed and then went with.

We ended up at a little restaurant, that had fantastic food. I tried the beef steak, which came complete with, of course, chips and salad. But it was the dessert that won me over entirely: mango and chocolate mousse-s and rice pudding! YUUUM. :D

After hanging out for a bit, just chatting and what not, we headed back to the hostel, and chilled out until waay too early, considering the 4.30am wake up we were intending for today…

Which leads me to…



{LIS} a serving of rain, with a side of pastéis de nata, with fado for dessert.

So this morning, after a lovely breakfast at the hostel of scrambled eggs and toast (with some awesome jam!), we headed out, intending to follow one of the walks laid out in the Lonely Planet book. However, it was a bit of a miserable day, with the rain more on then off. Add to the fact that we didn’t really have a proper map that detailed precisely where we were going…

And so in the middle of a heavy ‘on’ period in the rain, we found ourselves at the Military Museum (Largo do Museu da Artilharia, 1100-366 LISBOA). For the €3 entry fee, it seemed like a bit of an underwhelming place to dry off, but once we got past the room of canons and headed upstairs, we were faced with room after room after room of everything related to the military. Granted, it was mostly guns and the like, but it was still all rather interesting with Ben telling me the entire history of the use of weaponry in warfare.

After a fair amount of time, and feeling almost dry, we headed out again, and found that it had decided to stop raining a little bit. So we decided to walk towards Igreja de Santa Engrácia, also known as the National Pantheon. As we did so, we strolled through the streets of Alfama, which I think were a treat in themselves. :)

I’m that kind of tourist I think. While I am very interested in seeing the main sites and that kind of thing, I also enjoy just walking around the streets and looking at buildings and what not… that’s the kind of thing that appeals to me I think. Otherwise one can get too bogged down in ticking off all the places to see and you can forget to just… absorb.

Anyway, yep… so then we made it to the church and decided not to go inside, but just have a peek from the door.

We then decided to head in what we thought was the direction of Castelo de São Jorge (The Castle of St George), but we got distracted by pretty views at times… and then deterred some by torrential rain.

Once we finally did make it to the castle, we decided to go back tomorrow, seeing as it was pouring, and we were both pretty drenched from the rain.

Made our way back to the hostel to dry off for a bit. I got Ben some food, since the poor kid only had one pair of pants, and after relaxing a bit, and signing up for the Sintra tour tomorrow (run by the awesome hostel!), I headed out to Praça do Comércio to catch tram 15E towards Belém, in search of the famous Pastéis de Belém, as recommended by M and reconfirmed by the hostel staff. But more on that later.

After an amusing tram ride, I arrived at Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery)and stuck my camera in around there, before wandering past Centro Cultural de Belém (Cultural Center of Belém) in search of the Torre de Belém (Tower of Belém). I did not realise that the tower was so far away… and I also had to cross an overhead bridge, that had my mini fear of heights kick in a little bit…!

But the Tower was pretty enough, and the sun setting a little bit behind the clouds and all made for fun picture-taking.

Then I turned around and headed back, getting a little distracted by the “Golden Gate Bridge” (aka 25 de Abril Bridge) and by the time I got back to the Monument to the Discoveries, it was getting rather dark. Of course, I took pictures anyway… :)

It was almost time to head back, but I was still yet to have my Portuguese tarts (pastéis de nata). And so I went in search of Pastéis de Belém (Rua de Belém 84-92, 1300-085 LISBOA). It was super easy to find, just a little bit away from the monastery. I got my 6 for €5.40 and took them back to the hostel to eat. I was super impressed with the added icing sugar and cinnamon packets too. :)

pastéis de belém. (source: flickr)

BOY WERE THEY DELICIOUS!!! Crispy, flaky pastry that melted in your mouth, and a just-right egg custard filling that was not too sweet. Mmm… thinking about them now, I want to go back for more!!

After stuffing myself with four, it was time for Ben and I to head out to the Museum of Fado, to meet up with Clark and Nasim, who we had met last night during dinner.

We found them at Ti Camila Taberna, a little hole in the wall opposite the museum, where we tried a pork sandwich, which was delicious, albeit served with potato chips…!

Then we wandered around a little bit, stopping at what has become Clark’s local bar, before wandering around some more, only to head back to the little restaurant that we had passed earlier on.

Restaurante Esquina de Alfama (Rua de São Pedro 4, 1100 LISBOA) offered ‘fado’ performances from 20.00-0.00, so we ducked in to have dinner and enjoy the traditional Portuguese style of music. It was definitely an awesome experience, and I am super glad that we ended up going. It had an awesome vibe, and I ended up trying Portuguese cod and that was yum, if a little too salty…

The fado performances were super awesome, and all the singers had really great voices, but were also performers in their own right. I was slightly miffed at the Asian eyes and expectation that I was Japanese though…! But he came around later and actually did ask where I was from, so that’s fine.

But now I am back at the hostel, and I should get to sleep so that I can wake up in the morning for the tour. Praying for good weather too…!


{LIS} tired eyes meet welcome sights.

And so begins the slew of posts without photos… but I will add them one day, I promise!

So this morning, I had to wake up super early (4am!!) to get to the airport in time for our 7.30am flight to… LISBON! Heathrow airport is actually really far away… so took the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station, since other things weren’t really running so early in the morning… Luckily there were no problems and we arrived there a good two hours before departure. There was a minor issue with check-in, but then we were on our way through security, and then through to the airport shops.

Six year old me wanted to find things familiar in the airport, but given that it has been 14 years since I was last at Heathrow, I can imagine that a lot has changed since then. Still, 6YO me said that the Harrods store still looked familiar…! In any case, we’ll see. This is the Harrods bear that costs almost 2000 pounds…!

Then we got to the gate, sat around for a while (i.e. drifting off…) before catching the bus to the plane.

British Airways, thank you for feeding me. :) Egg and bacon roll in the morning, with a nice hot cup of tea. :) So far, this is the only other airline that has given me food, even on short haul flights. (The other was KLM, if you were wondering!)

Since our flight was so early in the morning, it was nice to see the sunrise from the plane. The sun was rather bright though, so the photos don’t quite capture the awesomeness…!

Arrived in Lisbon, to a balmy 17 degrees… hovering around there, or maybe 13… depending on which temperature sign we were passing as we were on the bus towards Praca do comercio. Found our way quite easily to the hostel. According to, Travellers House continues to be rated as the best hotel in their entire database, with a rating of 98%!! And when we arrived, we discovered why.

The vibe of the place is reaaally awesome. When we got up to the reception, we were given a great tour of the place, and it was just really comfortable to kick back and relax a little bit while we were waiting for our rooms to be ready. There is free internet, both on the iMacs and wifi (yes, yes, here I go using Apple products again…!). I had a nice time with the selection of teas, and need a Lonely Planet to refer to? Don’t waste space in bringing your own. There is a great selection of travel books available. There is free breakfast of a morning, and linen and towels are all provided. They run a few tours as well. which is always convenient, especially to a few of the places that are a bit further out of the city. There is a TV room and the lounge is also really pretty… Here, I shall steal a picture from the website. :)


travellers house, lisbon

Pretty, pretty no?

After resting for a little bit, we were given our rooms, and so we moved in a little bit and took a bit more of a nap. It was a really early morning!!

In the end, we finally headed out and went to a little café recommended to us by the hostel.

Cruzes Credo Café (Cruzes da Sé, 29) is a short bit away from Sé Cathedral. We had a late lunch, Bacon Cheeseburger, and then headed out to do a little bit of exploring…

Since it was right there, we had a look inside Sé Cathedral and it was quite magnificent. Travelling in Europe, you see a lot of churches, but for me, at least, they are all still quite amazing in just their sheer size and the architecture… always really pretty. :)

Lisbon has totally won me over, in the few short hours that we were actually outside and wandering. The streets remind me of Copenhagen, in the way that I want to take a picture of everything, even if the buildings are a little bit derelict, or whether they are absolutely fabulous. It also reminds me so much of Macau and Malacca, but I guess that’s because they are places with heavy Portuguese influence in their history…

So yeah, we were just wandering the streets, got to the main square place, Praca do comercio, and headed down to the water to admire the beautiful sunset. It has been too long since I have seen the sun set like that… :)

It started to rain a little bit, but then cleared up and so we explored a little further to the north. Of course, I was taking pictures of random buildings and streets as I was going.

At least we still had time before it got dark, at around 17.30. Then we decided to go back to the hostel, and rest up a little bit more, since we were just so tired.

At about 20.00 we decided that it was probably time to actually eat some dinner. We got another recommendation for dinner, and made our way there. We may have gotten a little lost with me leading the way, but then as we were about to give up, there it was.

Restaurante O Galera (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros 24D) isn’t much to look at at first, but once inside, it’s a little maze of stone-walled tunnels, with parts of it being restaurant, and other parts selling fresh fish. The hostel recommended us a particular dish called arroz de manscos, which is basically a stew of rice and all kinds of seafood, including prawns, crab, mussels and scallops. We ordered a serving for one, and another dish of pork chops. Turns out we could very well have just shared the seafood rice. There was so much there, we were wondering whether they had accidentally given us the one for two people! It was a lovely dinner, and after not having had any seafood in a rather long time… it was rather welcome. :)

Now we are back at the hostel. Only two days for Lisbon before we head off to Marrakech… I hardly think that it will be enough!!