31 October- 3 November 2019
On a last minute whim, we decided to spend hallo-weekend in Portugal for our first official trip as European residents.
We set out on Thursday, making the long 7 hour journey by bus to Lisbon. We traveled through some beautiful parts of Spain including Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura. The trip went surprisingly fast, thanks to Netflix and the amazing views of rolling hills and green land that we’ve been missing since moving to a desert-like climate in Madrid.
After arriving and checking into our Airbnb, which was the epitome of “you get what you pay for,” we headed to check out our surroundings. We wandered down the little streets, walking toward the water, where we stumbled upon a little outdoor market packed with booths selling various cured meats and cheeses and “hot wine.” Of course, we had to try some and it was obviously amazing.
The following morning we ate breakfast at a cafe in Praca do Comercio, on the water. Then we boarded a train to a near by town called Sintra. The main attraction there is The Castle of the Moors, a medieval castle on top of a mountain. Travel up the mountain is limited to only certain busses and authorized vehicles. Meaning the only way up for us was, you guessed it, a very long hike.
The journey up the jungle-like mountain was far from enjoyable; however, the spectacular views were worth it. We were only a little sweaty when we reached the top, but we got to cool off on the way back down.
When we arrived back in Lisbon, we had a delicious seafood dinner and explored the famous Alfama district. The steep narrow streets make up one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lisbon.
Back towards the center, we ran into a street performer playing a saw with a cello bow. We later found out that he was a contestant on Portugal’s Got Talent!
The next day, we stopped for some breakfast at the famous Pastéis de Belém cafe where we had the traditional Portuguese custard pastries. They come served with sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on top. These became one of our favorite foods we’ve had so far in Europe.
After filling our bellies, we toured the Torre de Belém, a 16th century tower that served as the ceremonial gateway to Lisbon for explorers coming and going. We were able to climb to the top of the tower to see some amazing views of the ocean and the city on the other side.
Later, we ventured down to the Lisbon Oceanarium, the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. We finished our last night in Portugal with some happy hour drinks and dinner near the water.
The next morning, we began our 8 hour bus ride back to Madrid. It was a Sunday so of course we passed the time watching the Bills beat the Redskins 24-9, the cherry on top of a wonderful weekend.