Greta, Lindsay and I had a fantastic time in Lisbon, Portugal the last weekend of November. It was great having a girl’s weekend and just traveling with two other people. The three of us always have so much fun together and I hadn’t taken a trip with them yet! Plus I prefer traveling in smaller groups.
We arrived on Friday evening and checked into our hostel. Now, let me mention that Yes! Hostel in Lisbon is one of the BEST I have ever stayed at. It’s clean, friendly, and just plain FUN. There is a cozy common room attached to the lobby with tons of space and comfy couches. I was so impressed with the décor and layout! The staff was great also. Even the bathrooms and showers were decent and super nice for hostel standards. The hostel offers dinner and a pub crawl every night for 20 euros. We signed up for both and all of us were really impressed with the delicious dinner that the amazing cook, Isabel, made for us. We started off with delish apps of fresh bread, cheese, and sausage. Then she served us an amazing and very flavorful pumpkin soup. For the entry we had a Portuguese dish called Bacalhau, which is cod fish and very popular in Lisbon, along with salad. It was the best meal I’ve eaten in a while! Dessert was the highlight: a chocolate brownie with melted chocolate inside and vanilla ice cream! I ate so much and could barely walk after. I guess I could have counted this meal as a belated Thanksgiving dinner.
The next day was grey and rainy, but we asked the man at the desk and he gave us a few suggestions of things to see around Lisbon. We walked over to Castelo de S. Jorge and saw some great views of the city. We looked at the really cool elevator called Elevador St. Justa which takes you up to give you a good view. We stopped into a wine tasting shop to taste some of the famous Port Wine. It was a little too sweet for me, but Portugal is famous for it.
In the afternoon we went to Belém, and visited the Torre de Belém, Padrio dos Descobrimientos (monument of discoveries) and a really flamboyant monastery called Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. It was terrible weather and raining cats and dogs so everything was a little rushed but after seeing the three sites we went into Belém’s famous pastry shop (Pasteis de Belem) which is a Portuguese egg tart pastry. They served them to us warm with cinnamon sugar on top. There is a really interesting history about the origin of these specific pastries: (http://www.pasteisdebelem.pt/en.html)
We indulged in great Indian food that night at a restaurant nearby. The next afternoon we went to Sintra, a town that was classified as a World Heritage site. It has royal retreats, estates, and castles from the 8th-9th century.
The city was absolutely amazing and I wish we had spent more time there. All the castles and palaces made it feel like a romantic fairytale land! In the main square we went to a pastry shop and tried the famous Sintra ‘queijadas’ (cheese pastries) and ‘travesseiros’ (egg and almond pastries). We also went into a little wine shop with homemade cheeses, jams, and chocolate and tried lots of samples.
Next we visited Quinta da Regaleira, an enormous royal estate with many owners through time. It includes all types of architectural styles (Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Manueline). I can’t even begin to describe the estate. Trickling streams and fountains, underground caves and tunnels, lush vegetation and gardens, towers, a chapel, and a giant palace with five floors! I felt like a princess just being there.
After we finished exploring the magical estate, our guide Louis (who works at the hostel and who is basically the coolest guy ever) drove us to the most western part of Europe called Cape Roca or Cabo da Roca on the Westernmost coast of mainland Portugal!