The San Francisco of Europe

Next stop on the trip was Lisbon, the capital of Portugal and a different type of coastal city than Porto. I noticed the striking similarities quite quickly between San Francisco and Lisbon…
-Hilly
-Street cars
-Rust colored suspension bridge (Lisbon = Ponte 25 de Abril bridge)

We got in late the first night in Lisbon and decided to get some sleep because we were actually going on a day trip to Sintra. Sintra sits on the coast of Portugal and is about an hour away from Lisbon and known for its castles and palaces. We woke up at the break of dawn to get on the train out to Sintra because we knew it was going to be crowded. Missed the 8am so we got on the 9am. We really only planned to the the Pena Palace so we opted for an Uber versus taking the bus that takes you in a loop around all of the palaces. We also opted for the garden ticket, which lets you roam around outside the palace and all around but does not permit you to go inside the palace. We were fine with that because we spent plenty of time outside! Plus the line to get inside wrapped around.

After wandering around for a couple hours, we ubered back to the main area of Sintra, grabbed some quick lunch and made our way back to Lisbon. We walked around the central area and even happened to find this random pink street.

By now we were hungry again and made our way to Time Out Market, which is a large food hall. A pretty fancy food hall too! It had lots to choose from. We opted for some squid ink pasta with seaweed salad, pork belly with green puree (forgot what it actually was), and fries with spicy mayo (not pictured).

Our adventure continues! After full bellies, we made our way on the train to the Belem area and walked along the water. It’s located on the west side of Lisbon, along the water. It’s iconic for the tower of Belem, built as a fort to protect the city. We also saw a huge monument that commemorates maritime explorers – notice all the beautiful tiling on the ground.

No stop is complete in Belem without a visit to Pasteis de Belem! More egg tarts. Yum.

After that, we headed back to our Airbnb. We did lots and were completely pooped for the first night in Lisbon.

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Ola!

I was excited for this next part of the trip because I had never been to Portugal before. Ang and I were split between seeing Porto or Lisbon because they’re both quite so different. We decided to just do it and see both. We first stopped in Porto, a smaller laid back city that’s by the water and known for their port wine and bridges. We got in the morning, checked in at our Airbnb and started off the day with some food. Breakfast sandwiches and a drink were only about 6 bucks! Portugal is a super affordable country compared to its neighbors so we were glad for this break. We decided to also do a tour of Portuguese egg tarts.

One of the attractions we stopped at was this beautiful bookstore called Lello & Irmao that is rumored to have inspired J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter. As you can imagine, the place was packed. There was also a huge line to get in.

Portugal is known for their beautiful tiles and artwork. The Sao Bento Railway Station was gorgeous!

The next day, we got some brunch nearby at Zenith. It was packed and we had to wait a bit but I can see why.. Love me some shashuka! Johnny got the avocado toast with a fried poached egg and a side of bacon.

We took a stroll towards the water and across the Ponte Luis bridge to do some wine tasting. We walked across the bridge on the bottom and on the way back, we went on the top! We went to this family owned winery called Augusto’s. Port wine is a dessert wine and was incredibly sweet and strong, especially the tawny that we had sampled. Great tour to learn about the aging process and they were very knowledgeable! Walked around and got to see some really cool views of Porto.

Last stop in Porto included dinner before our flight out to Lisbon. We asked some locals where to get grub and they directed us to this bar called Taxca. They had hunks of cured meats hanging from the ceiling. My meal with Johnny came out to only 10 euros! (Sparkling wine, pork sammy, salami & cheese sammy, and squid salad).

PROS:
Small city where you can get around everywhere by foot
Friendly people
Cheap food
Gorgeous scenery by the water
Laidback

CONS:
Didn’t know the language at all
Only stayed for one full day, but I feel like we got the gist of it all

Really quaint city/town that’s chill enough but still bustling with people. I’d definitely recommend coming here, even if it’s just for a day! I think it was really worth it.

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