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The Portugal Road Trip

Our trip started in Lisbon! Having not found any hotels that I thought were reasonably priced, we opted for an Air B&B in an area that I thought was close to a metro stop. Yep, close to a metro stop, the "Intendente". We were also "off the beaten path" as not in the tourist section of Alfama or any other "big" area. But close. After hauling our bags up 3 flights of actually nice stairs we liked our rather small but cozy home for the next 4 nights. Our first full day in the area, we opted for a day tour to Sintra +! Of course, it was raining and foggy and well... seeing the Palace da Pena in the rain just gave it a special ambiance. Yah, right?!? But we did learn about the styles of architecture (Indian, Moorish, Bavarian and Manuelin) We did enjoy it and believe it is a MUST for those anywhere near the area. The walk up from the car park is not difficult and gives a feeling for the fantastic gardens/plantings. Sintra as a town is just a bit touristy... haha, A LOT! but we were told that each town in Portugal has a special pastry and after tasting Sintra's pastry... well, worth the hype! We tried 2 pastries; travesseiro (2 for 2.80 euro) and Queijada ( 2 for 2.70E)

Our tour guide/driver then took us to the coast and a beautiful vista (sorry, I really need the name of the stop) looking out reminded us of the coast in Oregon, YES, it is that awesome! We then traveled a bit south to the western most point on the continent of Europe. The wind was quite intense, as were the visitors from China. The best part was seeing the bus load of Chinese visitors interacting with the men's group from Portugal and singing European football fight chants... ahhh, the experiences! Not yet done with this tour, we then traveled to Cascais for a hour visit. Our choice in this tourist coastal city was to grab a happy hour drink and watch the foolish youth trying to spend some time in the very cold April waters on the beaches. Then whisked back to Lisbon (it actually is very close and only a short train ride to Cascais from the station in Lisbon) We decided that our next most important stop was SEAFOOD! We were staying a short walk from a really busy seafood restaurant with a horrible wait time, however the day before by asking a local dude we found that just block from this restaurant was one with as much history and as good of seafood without the wait. So let's go. And yes, it was fantastic.

Our second day in Lisbon was consumed by food! We booked a day long tour with Culinary Backstreets. The two others on the tour where fantastic foodies from Poland. We tasted and learned more about the foods of Lisbon for an entire 6 hours. Did you know that with all the colonies that Portugal had and when those colonies reverted back to their home lands many Portugese flooded back to Lisbon and it really impacted their food scene? We had absolutely the most awesome Samosas! We also saw one of two of the still working community clothes washing houses. Then we had the most exquisite grilled fish one could ever eat, but not after trying food that the workmen would normally eat and also rubbing elbows with those same workmen... Yes, you guessed it, fried cod balls.... The history of the salted cod in Portugal, and most of that part of the Iberian peninsula, is worth a book... so just try cod in a couple of ways when you visit Portugal, we did and wasn't disappointed.
I will forgo the story about the unfortunate incident of the Tram ride... Let the reader be warned, Yes, Virginia, there are pickpockets on trams.

Our last full day in Lisbon and we must see everything else... Yah, NOT! But we had a priority of seeing Belem (a bit of a commute on train, tram or bus) we opted for train (the safest) In Belem, one must do at least 3 things...1). Visit the Monastery of Jeronimos and Cathedral (note Cathedral is free) line up for the tickets to see the Cloisters and other parts. for the rest see next....

Posted by
2576 posts

Sounds great! Looking forward to the rest. We used Your Friend in Lisbon for our Sintra visit and it was well worth it. Sounds very much the same as yours. And we also took the Cuinary Backstreets tour you did. Another winner! They are growing and we plan to book with them next year when we return to Europe (destination unknown at this time).

Posted by
681 posts

Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip. Portugal is on my list!!!!

Posted by
248 posts

Please provide the name/address of the restaurant "with as much history and as good of seafood without the wait". Sounds like a great find. Thanks.

Posted by
489 posts

A Marisqueira do Lis, very near the Intendente Metro stop. The waiter at a nearby bar/cafe told us that he finds this place as good as Ramiro and without the 45-60 min wait. We had a fantastic seafood plate.
I also would recommend another seafood/fish restaurant called Ultimo Porto, near the River in Lisbon, not Porto. Many many business people go there for lunch. They do grilled food. But absolutely need reservations.

Posted by
2576 posts

I second Ultimo Porto! We dined there on our Culinary Backstreets tour and what a feast! Surrounded by well dressed business men and women with several bottles of wine on each table and plate after plate of seafood. We did our best to keep up. How on earth they return to work, or what work really happens who knows. May explain some of the problem with the Portuguese economy!