The longest holiday I had in 2012 was my honeymoon in Portugal. My fiancée selected the location, and I was very happy with it, I was dreaming of seeing people taking in Portuguese on the streets, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and exploring the world of the former kingdom.
We had 9 days in Portugal in August, so I booked the flight with TAP Airlines four months in advance and for accommodation, I choose Eduardo VII Hotel for Lisbon and Lagosmar Hotel in Lagos. The reservations were made through booking.com. I was so anxious for the adventure to start! I bought Top 10 Lisbon travel guide to use in my trip and it was very useful.
We left Bucharest early in the morning but unfortunately, we had an unpleasant surprise, the flight was delayed with an hour. We didn’t let this affect us, and after a four hours flight we landed in Lisbon. I was impressed by the services on board in the plane, very good food. For transportation in the city, we used the daily pass (cost -5 euros). This was the best option. We took the train to get to the hotel. Eduardo VII is a three starts vintage hotel, with a very nice view (we stayed on the eighth flour). The breakfast was very plentiful and the staff helpful. Even if the furniture is kind of old, I would recommend this hotel for his price range. We had four days in Lisbon and we tried to make the most of it. In the first day, we walked to city center, that was close, around two bus stations. I was impressed by the Commerce Square, the statues and the Tejo river close by. The cable car passing was so picturesque. From there we went to Se Cathedral, one of the Lisbon symbols. The church didn’t impress me, it was a normal catholic church. We continued our journey by climbing to the Castelo de S. Jorge. The castle is build in mid 11th century in the Moorish period. It was not meant as a residence, as it only contained defense towers. I liked the medieval royal atmosphere up there. It is mostly ruins, but the city panorama is amazing and it’s nice to spend an afternoon there. We left and had the dinner outdoor, listening to fado music that I felt in love immediately. I was surprised that in Lisbon, people perform on the streets anywhere: living statues, guitar, violin or other instruments players are everywhere. I enjoyed that so much!
For the second day, we choose to explore the old area of the city – Belem. We got there by bus, and from the first second I was impressed by the Jeronimos Monastery architecture built in Manueline, (late Gothic) style. Vasco da Gama tomb is placed in the chapel. I admired the courtyard and I liked the historical timelines in the museum, regarding Portugal history and the discoveries made along the time. The monastery was only the beginning of our journey in Belem. We continued by getting on the top of Padrão dos Descobrimentos. This is a monument dedicated to the discoveries that has in the front the statue of Henry the Navigator.
Walking on the cliff of Belem I had the feeling I am in San Francisco, the bridge looked the same, the breeze was the same. I found out that the 25th of April Bridge had the same architect as the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked to Tower of Belem, another symbol of Lisbon. I liked this defense tower build also in the Manueline style that combines elements of moore, renaissance and gothic elements. It was practically built over the Tejo River. I was impressed by the statues found here. We left Belem , crossed the city center and changed the old with the new. We had a short stop to Alfama to have a look to the National Pantheon, then we went to the Park of the Nations, a leisure, commercial area of Lisbon. We visited here the Oceanarium that has the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. We saw here around 450 species, I liked the most the penguins and the minks and I was most impressed by the fish from the Indian Ocean. He had the dinner in the city center, in a restaurant that I really enjoyed, as we went there five times. Regarding Portuguese cuisine, the meals are so plentiful, big steaks, twice than in Romania, and come with at least two garnishes, or maybe three and also salad. If you choose piranha –a Brazilian steak, it comes with beans, rice and fries, and also tomatoes, lettuce salad. No wonder I came home with 2 kilos extra weight. But this was worth.
In our third day in Portugal, we took the train to get to a town 30 kilometers away from Lisbon, called Sintra. This is a wonderful place, as the summer residences of the royal families are here. We visited here four sights, one more beautiful than the other. We started by climbing to the Moorish Castle. I saw here the defense walls and I liked all the Portuguese flags displayed, from the foundation to the Republic. The view from the top was breath taking. We continued our journey walking through the Pena Park to get to the Pena National Palace. I can honestly say, this is the most impressive castle I saw so far. Maybe I liked it so much because it’s a mixture of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Islamic and Neo-Renaissance styles. The interiors are sumptuous, with painted walls and lovely furniture. After having the palace tour, we got back downtown Sintra and continued the palaces marathon with Sintra National Palace. This is more a museum than a palace, I liked the thematic rooms with painted ceilings. The journey didn’t end there, we continued with Quinta da Regaleira, a complex that contains a romantic palace and chapel, a luxurious park featuring lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. I liked the story behind this complex: a very rich man bought the domain and wanted to build a place to express his interests and ideologies. That’s why the place is also known as “Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire”. We walked in the gardens, visited the chapel, a cave, and the palace. I saw that cultural events are organized there, and I’m sure that for locals and people from Lisbon is a good place to go out in weekend days. After visiting the castle, that was very nice, we took the train back to Lisbon and enjoyed the evening in the city center.
The forth day in Lisbon was the most relaxing one. That’s because we already checked the most important sights and we were free to do whatever we wanted. We started by lying in the Eduardo VII park, that was near the hotel. There was a place in the park with a great panorama. We had the lunch and then went to a cruise over the Tejo river. The route was starting from the Commercial Square, going to the Park of Nations, then hitting back to Belem, and returning to city center. The cruise was a great experience! I was so happy to see all the sights again, this time from the boat.
This is how we spend four days in Lisbon. We continued exploring Portugal, by going to Algarve.
Stay tuned, new post coming up about the Algarve experience!