Portugal was just what we all needed and made the perfect backdrop for a girls weekend. Crazy to think that we all either met on a trip in Budapest, where we just so happen to be on the same flight and stay in the same hostel, or in London. I think the opportunity to make new friends has been one of my favorite aspects of traveling. Such a unique experience to meet friends from all over the world and learn from one another. Lisbon was more than we all expected. The colorful buildings on the winding streets up and down the hills were beautiful and provided us with gorgeous outlooks of the city. I arrived first on Saturday morning and checked into our hostel (The Independente) which was one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in. Five stars I tell ya. After checking in I began to make my way around the streets and take it all in to get my bearings.
Of all places I find a park that just so happens to be having a Ben and Jerry’s Appreciation Day. I kid you not. Fate, I tell ya. They were teamed up with local vendors who had stands all over the park of handmade jewellery, jams, clothing, food, and everything else you could imagine. I was particularly fond of the sweet older lady who gave me as many servings as I wanted of her passion fruit jam. She has one heck of a recipe. Oh, and I was clearly fond of the free Ben and Jerry’s as well.
I went in and out of some of the boutiques nearby until my body starting to realize that a 4am wakeup and a flight will indeed make you sleepy. The solution? A nice little latte at a cafe overlooking the city. The perfect spot for people watching, flower gazing, and latte sipping.
Mid afternoon I headed back to the hostel to meet up with Hannah and Megan and hit the streets for some more perusing. (Also, note precious little tram here.)
These streets! Any street with this much color is perfection.
Also, so thankful Hannah and I got to travel together for one last hoorah before she has to move back to the States! I mean, God love her. (Hannah, don’t ever leave.)
By early evening we made our way back to collect Isabelle and Chelsea and head down to the Mercado da Ribeira for drinks and dinner. The huge building once was one of the largest fish markets in Europe and has now been transformed to quite the trendy spot for food and drink. I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in Lisbon.
This place delivered. After grabbing a drink and appetizer we took a few laps around the inside of the market to figure out just what we wanted for dinner. The decision was a tough one and I’d say we nailed it.
I fancied the goat cheese and blackberry salad with honey ice cream on top. Yes, I did say honey ice cream on top! Holy moly, what a combination. (We may or may not have discussed if this can be a normal occurring thing back at home.) Hannah found some divine seafood dumplings and Isabelle ordered duck and asparagus risotto. Essentially we played a game of pass the plate. The absolute best game of pass the plate.
After dinner we headed back up the hill for a lovely view of the city.
All exhausted from travelling and a successful first day, we made our way back to the hostel for some sleep. Sunday morning Hannah and I ran up to a nearby park to get a bit of a workout in, which I always recommend whilst travelling. Starting off your day with a run or workout allows you to avoid feeling as guilty about the whole ice cream on top of your salad incident and is a great way to see new parts of the city. After getting ready for the day we enjoyed breakfast at the hostel (they nailed it!) before our walking tour.
We began our walking tour in Baixa and made our way through Alfama. We were all fans of Hugo, our tour guide. Full of wit and interesting facts about the city.
He took us through the winding streets pointing out little shops with stories, history, the meaning of the graffiti, and the best view points of the city along the way. Hearing the unique history of other countries has fascinated me. They have left a whole lot out of our history books that deserves to be put in. (Who knew about the 1755 Lisbon earthquake accompanied by a tsunami and fire?!!?)
The panoramas of the city were to die for. The terracotta rooftops along the hills are a sight to see.
The best group I could ask for.
Whoever resides in this dreamboat of a house has one heck of a view, and also excellent color preferences.
A whole lot of uphill climbing. All very worth it.
Oh and let’s not forget to mention the azulejo tiles. They decorate everything from walls of churches, benches, houses, railway stations, and shops and often portray historic scenes of the country. The patterns on these ceramic tiles are beautiful and paint such a colorful picture throughout the city.
I repeat, I’m obsessed with her. So thankful to finally have a sister!
We finished our tour at the top of the city near a little church and worked up quite the appetite. After a few recommendations from our guide we headed back down towards the river to find a little local spot to have a typical Portuguese lunch.
We felt good about our lunch spot due to our hunger level and the fact that no English was spoken. This was one of those times where I had to take a leap of faith and just point to something on the menu. Baculhau a bras it was and I am a fan! It was shredded cod sautéed along with onion, potatoes, and egg. After lunch we made our way towards the river to soak up a bit of the sun.
After napping a bit and doing our best to get some sun on our faces we were on a dessert hunt. Hannah and I had soft serve ice cream on our mind, and then a man walking with a dreamy large waffle cone of soft serve walked by. I used my Sherlock Holmes skills and noticed he was only halfway done eating it so the ice cream had to be nearby. Alas we found it! Just over a euro for the best cone of ice cream. Win.
After devouring our ice cream we realized, oops it was past six. None of us are truly sure where the time went. We wandered around a bit more, checking out a few of the bars with music pouring out into the streets before heading back to the restaurant in our hostel, The Decadente, for a surprisingly cheap and delicious meal. Mafa bread, linguini with shrimp, sautéed vegetables, salted corn cakes with sundried tomato, pea cream soup, and sweet potatoes were our choices from the menu. Nom nom.
Monday morning started just as Sunday. Hannah and I made our way to the park for a workout (a bit more in slow motion I may add, those hills got the best of us on Sunday…) before getting ready, enjoying our favorite breakfast, and heading down to the train station. On our walking tour the day before sweet Hugo kept mentioning Sintra, so much so that we were sold on taking a day trip there. Definitely one of our best decisions. This place was an enchanted forrest straight out of a movie. Romantic, quaint, colorful, and perfect on a spring day. Upon arrival after our quick 40 minute train ride we all fell in love.
Sintra has rippling mountains, forests, and gardens everywhere you look. Like I said, literally straight out of a fairy tale. Lord Byron wasn’t kidding around when he wrote,”Lo! Sintra’s glorious Eden intervenes, in variegated maze of mount and glen.”
We made our way through the town until finally finding Quinta da Regaleira, an estate with a magical villa, gardens, chapel, lakes, grottoes, and fountains. Everything is designed to be very symbolic as you walk through the gardens, tunnels, and pathways. This place was incredible. Looking back I realize the pictures don’t even come near to how beautiful it was. If I could bottle up the smell of this place I would in a heartbeat. I want to smell that smell everyday for as long as I live. Now begins several pictures of this gem of a place!
Isabelle killing it.
Just playing princess.
Let me express to you how I feel about this final picture of ham and cheese. This picture easily represents some of the finer things in life. We neglected to eat in Sintra except for a few pieces of fruit because we knew that this bad boy would be waiting for us upon our return. This was easily the best sandwich I have ever had in my life. Was it because we were starving or because it was filled with grilled cheese goodness and oregeno on the best bread? Hard to say. All I know is it was dang good. Megan, Hannah, Isabelle, and Chelsea will back me up 100%.
They will also back me up in saying Lisbon was the perfect way to spend a relaxing girls weekend.