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Portugal Portugal - Lisbon 2014

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
I'll be traveling to Lisbon, Portugal for most of November 2014. I will base for 3 weeks in an apartment in Lisbon. It is is the Chiado neighborhood in a convenient location with nearby cafes, shops, sights and public transport. The Chiado is a vibrant trendy neighborhood located between lively Barrio Alto and the old and charming neighborhood of the Alfama District where fishermen still live. I will power around on foot, train, bus and those very cool trams. I have two overnight day trips to Porto (home to Port wine) and the small medieval town of Obidos. I'll also venture off to Cascais, Cabo da Roca (to see the western most point in Western Europe) and Sintra (to see the Pena castle). I've had Portugal high up on my must see list for several years and I'm so thankful and excited to be able to visit.

I created a Google Map with some points of interests, dining recommendations, sightseeing attractions and my planned day trips. If anyone is interested, HERE is the link.

I will post again, once I arrive in Lisbon. I'm very excited and I look forward to my new adventures. Thanks so much Pauline, Jonathan and everyone.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
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I'm in Lisbon! Arrived yesterday late yesterday evening. My apartment in Chiado is really nice. It's so wonderful here and I love it already. Weather has been mixed so far. It's not that cold, but it can get windy and it is warm when you enter places so layering is key. :)

After a really good night's sleep I woke up to some sunshine which was great because I had plans to visit Belem. It is only 20 minutes away. Less than my communte time to work. I wanted to break up Belem into two parts. This trip I saw three of the biggies: Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is amazing. Manuel I, ordered this monastery built to commemorate Vasco da Gama's voyage to India and to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for its success. With Gothic and oorish influences the architecture is amazing. Also saw the cloisters (not to be missed)

Monument of Discoveries is just across the street which you can make your way with an underground walkway It was built to commemorate the Portuguese Age of Discovery. You can see the 25 of April Bridge in this photo.

A walkway from here along the Tagus river connects you to the Belem Tower. At this point the sky opened up and it began pouring. After a few minutes the rain stopped and a mass exit of us made our way to the Tower. It is Unesco World Heritage Site and is one of Lisbon's most photographed landmarks. You have to walk across this wooden walk way to get to this draw bridge entrance. I thought that was kind of cool. I was kind of surprised how small this was and inside you can see the canons.

I was going to try to make it to the Coach museum and pastry shop but another downpour came down and by this time I was soaking wet as my little polka dot umbrella was no match for the Portugal winds. Oh well, just part of the travel experience. I'll have to save the Coach Museum and Pastry shop for another day. Btw, I've already had those famous Portugese egg tarts from a cafe near my apartment and it's delicious! But I have to try the one fro Belem too :)

I am loving it here!
 
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Pauline

Forums Admin
I like that Belem Tower sitting out in the water! It looks fantastic!

I was wondering what the weather would be like. You are very south, but Portugal sits way out on the western edge of Europe, so must get weather off the Atlantic. When we went swimming in the ocean in northern Portugal I was shocked at how cold the water was - colder than swimming in England (and that is saying something). I was told that the Gulf Stream that keeps England warm misses the Portugal coast. But I am sure it is warmer and milder than England still.
 

jonathan

100+ Posts
Glad you're having a good time! I love that dramatic grey sky behind the monastery. Keep enjoying those pasteis de nata - and don't miss the chocolate cake at LX Factory :pig:
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
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Thanks so much Pauline & Jonathan. Pauline, that's very interesting. Although its been raining it hasn't been that cold. Today, was the first time that it rained and is a bit cooler than the past few days. Jonathan, I have been enjoyin those pasteis de nata a lot. :) I still want to try those in Belem. Hope to get back there when I go to see the coach museum. I have LX on my list and will definitely try to try that delicious cake. btw, you weren't kidding about the hills here. This has to be the hilliest city I've ever visited. :)

I went to visit the St. George Castle which sits atop a hill with panoramic views of the Alfama medieval district below. With some luck the sun made a brief appearance and I was able to snap a few photos of the very colorful roof tops of the houses below. Just beautiful. I got rained on again a couple of times once, while walking along the walls. I'm getting used to the quick weather changes throughout the day. And I'm getting even better at quickly finding cover to ride out the worst of the downpour. Arches was my saviour on this visit. The arch was only so big and with about 15 of us squeezed in, I needed my wounded polka dot umbrella to help shield me from some of the rain.

Just down below is another wonderful viewing point. You can see the big cruise ship down below. That's probably where that big tour group that just arrived as I was leaving came from. Yikes!

I also managed to ride on the very popular Tram 28 which takes you through the narrow and winding streets in the Alfama district. The interior is made of wood and it was so much fun clamouring around while enjoying the views of this historic neighborhood. I plan on returning so I can walk through it.

I must say that the tile designs (with its mosaic patterns) on the buildings and streets in Lisbon are just stunning.

Within the next few days, I hope to visit Cascais/Cabo da Roca and Sintra. Hope the weather will be good.

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Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Gosh, it's been such a crazy week. I've seen so much and was even a near pick pocket victim had it not been for a kind local portuguese lady who thwarted the attempt made by these three local girls. I gave them my LA stare down after but it was no match for my arm wielding, shouting little portuguese angel. She was awesome! I'm usually a savvy traveler but I had no clue they were right behind me about to unzip my bag.

I'll try to catch up more soon, but here's a glimpse and summary. By the way, the weather here in November has been quite schizophrenic, but like the locals I've now learned with the first rain drop to whip out my umbrella, snap it open and hold it up over my head in one smooth motion without skipping a beat. :)

One day I did a day trip to Sintra. Purchased a train ticket bus combo which I would recommend. It includes the roundtrip train from Lisbon-Sintra plus a bus pass in Sintra which you can use to visit Cabo Da Roca & Cascais. The bus stop is just outside of the train station to the right. I LOVED Sintra. I only had time to visit the Pena Palace because I wanted to get to Cabo da Roca and Cascais. Cascais was sort of meh for me and given the chance for a do over I would probably had spent more of my time in Sintra because there is so much to see there and the surroundings are beautiful. I liked Cabo da Roca for it's bucket list appeal for visiting the western most point in Western in Europe. And the scenery was beautiful. I would highly recommend this day trip but I would skip Cascais and concentrate your time in Sintra. You can take the bus for a quick trip to Cabo da Roca.

On another day trip I took the bus to visit Fatima. This is the town known for the location where the apparitions of the Virgin Mary appeared before three shephard children. For non religious visitors and catholics this is a beautiful place to visit. I found the experience very moving.

I also finally made it back to Belem to sample those very famous Pasteis da nata from Pasteis de Belem. Very delicious and I have to say the best I've had on my trip. Jonathan you were right. It's flakey crust and also the filling is just perfect.

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Pauline

Forums Admin
... I've seen so much and was even a near pick pocket victim had it not been for a kind local portuguese lady who thwarted the attempt made by these three local girls. I gave them my LA stare down after but it was no match for my arm wielding, shouting little portuguese angel. She was awesome! I'm usually a savvy traveler but I had no clue they were right behind me about to unzip my bag.
Lucky thing to have that lady behind you! Pick pockets are so quick!

Wonderful photos! I missed your post earlier this week - catching up now. I love that streetcar photo!

I liked Cabo da Roca for it's bucket list appeal for visiting the western most point in Western in Europe.

Is Cabo Da Roca further west than the western most part of Ireland? I looked on Google Maps and it looks like it could be.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Thanks so much for the likes Chris & Pauline.

Pauline, yes that local lady was so nice to help out. A couple of locals have already warned me espeically on the trams. Thanks for liking my photos.

All the guidebooks and internet touts Cabo da Roca as the Western Most point but after googling on Wikipedia, you're right. It says if you include the British Isles then on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland is the Western most point. Maybe one day I'll make it to Ireland too. :) It's been on my list for years too. So many places to see.

And guess what I saw when I went to visit the Lisbon Cathedral yesterday. This is the starting point for the Camino de Santiago Portuguese Route. And here is the first Camino Arrow to see live and in person. :)

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Pauline

Forums Admin
I have been to the west coast of Ireland, but not to Dingle (which is supposed to be lovely).

I love those pilgrim route photos!! We walked some of it in northern Portugal - in the Minho region. It was pretty thrilling.
 

Jan55612

100+ Posts
Kathy,
I am really enjoying your posts. We had hoped to spend some time in early 2015 in Lisbon, but other life events intervened, so maybe next year. But, following your adventures is so much fun! Could you share a link to your apartment? I have been scoping out neighborhoods and would love to see what you picked.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Kathy,
I am really enjoying your posts. We had hoped to spend some time in early 2015 in Lisbon, but other life events intervened, so maybe next year. But, following your adventures is so much fun! Could you share a link to your apartment? I have been scoping out neighborhoods and would love to see what you picked.

Thanks so much for your comments Jan. I'm currently staying in one of the Chiado Apartments - HERE is their main link. I'm staying in a one bedroom and HERE is the link.

I found them on a Homeaway. I dealt with the owners Paulo and Silvia. I had to put a 30% deposit down then paid the balance when I arrived. They do accept major credit cards, but I just paid cash and used Paypal to put my deposit. They are very easy to work with and Paulo who checked me in was very informative.

It is located in a very nice neighborhood and very close to shops, restaurants, ATM, cafes, transit. It is very clean and the photos on their website is very accurate as you can see from my photos that I took when I first checked in. I will have to warn you that the apartment is on a very busy street R. Garrett so it can be very noisy durng the late afternoon, early evening. Mornings are quiet. But there are street performers that start up in the early evening. If you are sensitive to noise, you would probably not like it. It doesn't bother me because I sleep like a rock. My apartment is on the corner so at least the bedroom faces the quieter side. It has a washer, microwave, iron, blow dryer, landline phone, hot water kettle, drip coffee maker and air conditioner, Wi-Fi. I just love this neighborhood for it's central location.

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You will love Lisbon. There is so much to see and the people are so friendly.
 
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jonathan

100+ Posts
Kathy, I'm very glad you got back to Belém to eat some pasteis! And I love your photos of Sintra: I really want to go there, but our trip last year was too short.

Jan, if you're looking for an apartment that's on a quieter street than Kathy's then I'd highly recommend the place we stayed at in the Bairro Alto last year - see here. You've probably read that BA is a noisy district, full of late night bars & restaurants - and that's certainly true of the streets that run to the east of Rua da Rosa, the central spine of the district. But over on Rua Caetanos, where we were, it was thoroughly peaceful, but still just a very short walk down to Rua do Loreto, where the 28 tram runs - and around 5 minutes stroll along to Kathy's Chiado district.

I, too, love Lisbon - for the same reasons as Kathy, and also because it's such good value! Food & drink prices are notably cheaper there than in Italy, France or England.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Yesterday, I did a day trip to the small town of Evora. It is a 1.40 hour train ride but the trip is very nice. The town of Evora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich history and ancient buildings and structures such as the Roman Temple of Evora (also referred to as Temple of Diana, named after an ancient Roman Goddess).

The medieval town has a surrounding wall and a wonderful old town square called Praca do Giraldo. I had a nice dinner in one of the cafes here after my sightseeing and whiled I waited for my train ride back to Lisbon. Although many shops were closed and some of the sights like the Cathedral were closed, it was nice because there were no crowds. There are also these quaint white with yellow trimmed buildings on small narrow cobble stoned streets. Near the Palacio Cadaval (which I visited along with its church (Saint John the Evangelist) which has these beautiful 18th century tiles is also a nice little park and viewing point of the town below.

This is a very small and charming town and I think it is definitely worth a day trip from Lisbon and maybe even an overnight. I just loved the town center and watching the locals hang out.

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Jan55612

100+ Posts
Kathy and Jonathan, Thanks for the links to each of your apartments. Both look like great apartments. Unfortunately, I do not sleep like a rock... (Kathy, you are one lucky woman!) so your apartment may not be for me. But, I will still keep the neighborhood in mind. I LOVE your photos and trip report, Kathy! Thanks so much for sharing.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Kathy and Jonathan, Thanks for the links to each of your apartments. Both look like great apartments. Unfortunately, I do not sleep like a rock... (Kathy, you are one lucky woman!) so your apartment may not be for me. But, I will still keep the neighborhood in mind. I LOVE your photos and trip report, Kathy! Thanks so much for sharing.

Sleeping like a rock is one of the few talents I'm very lucky to have and I have to admit it does come in handy when traveling. :) I think Jonathan's apartment looks very nice. Barrio Alto is the neighborhood next to Chiado and I think that is a very nice neighborhood. Honestly, I think it has a more neighborhood feel to it than Chiado. I really love my apartment but if I had to pick my second choice it would be somewhere in Barrio Alto. Thanks so much for liking my photos and reports.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
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Arrived in Obidos yesterday and had the most peaceful night's sleep! It is so quiet here in this pretty little medieval village just north of Lisbon. I took an express bus from The Campo Grande bus station in Lisbon. Once I found the right bus stop for the Tejo express bus, it was a very pleasant 1 hour ride to Obidos with only one stop on the way. If you want to do this day trip, once you get to the station (which is reachable by Metro) you have to exit the station go right and cross the street, you will see the right bus stop for the Tejo bus to Obidos. I got confused by the many busses here. The color of the bus is white and green but there are others that look like it, on all the buses they have a sign that will show its destination. The final stop for this route is Caldas Da Rainha.

November is off season so the town with the exception of a couple of occasional. Small tour group is very quiet. It's like having the place just to yourself, which is completely opposite of Lisbon. But this is exactly why I chose this little village for an overnight trip. Sometimes we do need peace in our life and here in Obidos I am having a lot of beautiful peace. :)

I'm limited to what I can post here because I'm only traveling with my mini iPad. Here are a few photos. FYI, my hotel is called Casa Das Rainhas and it is located with in the walls. It's beautiful, the rooms are clean and big and the staff is super friendly and helpful. From the bus stop, it is only a short walk up through the entrance.

Had a very delicious dinner at a place called Memoria Restaurant & Wine Bar. Their grilled Salmon is excellent. And I had my first Ginja which came in this tasty chocolate cup which you can eat at the end. Yum!
 
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Pauline

Forums Admin
Great photos!! I was reading this post on my iPad and the photos were not there - what a nice surprise to see them now. Is that last dessert photo the Ginja? I have not heard of that.

From the photos the town looks a bit run down - which is lovely to see after too many perfectly kept places. It looks very interesting.

We spent a few nights at a hotel in Portugal on our trip a couple of years ago (a Posada on the coast north of Porto) and it was one of the nicest hotel experiences. Lovely service, a beautiful room, good dinners at the hotel. Looks like you got a lovely hotel too!
 

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