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Gorgeous Light and Beautiful Tile: 16(ish) days in Portugal

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Jul 22nd, 2018, 06:59 AM
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Gorgeous Light and Beautiful Tile: 16(ish) days in Portugal

After posting many questions here on this forum while planning, the trip has been taken and enjoyed and now I'm back to report in minute detail!

The basics: I'm an American female in my late 30s and the trip was planned for 16 days, including travel time. This was my second solo trip - the solo being less a matter of preference and more a difficulty in finding travel partners - but I find that the pros and cons in solo vs. group/partner travel about equal out, all things considered. I stayed in a combination of private hotel rooms and hostels, and while in the past I've used hostels in order to afford longer trips, I've decided that from here on out I'll stick to shorter trips (I think 12-13 days is the sweet spot) and nicer accommodations.

My general travel approach is eat and wander. I do lots of research ahead of time, book hotels and buy some tickets before the trip, and know generally what I'm going to do each day, but once I'm on the ground I'm pretty flexible. I do prefer to get up early so that I can take photos and wander before things get too crowded. On this trip I decided to make eating well a priority. Last year in Spain I wasn't super happy with my food experience, so I decided that this year I'd plan a little better and spend a little more on restaurants. That's not to say I'm eating $300 meals in Michelin star restaurants, but I was pretty deliberate in where I ate. (I should also mention that I don't like seafood and I don't drink any alcohol, so many of the Portuguese specialties or popular restaurants that others seek out weren't appealing to me.)

DAYS 1-2 - TRAVEL/ARRIVAL IN LISBON
I flew overnight from the US to Paris, spent a couple hours in CDG airport, and then a short flight to Lisbon - which put me in Portugal about 3pm. I easily found the metro station right outside the airport entrance, bought my Viva Viagem metro card and loaded it up with 10 euros, and rode the metro to the Cais do Sodre station, which required one transfer. I came up out of the metro station and immediately saw the colorful Lisboa sculpture. I walked several blocks to my hotel for the next couple of nights, City Lofts Lisbon. This is a small hotel with maybe 15 rooms located on the top floor of a building. I checked into my cute little twin room and immediately leaned out of the large windows to check out my view. There are four bathrooms that all of the rooms share, and I never had to wait to use the bathroom. The bathrooms did have a "bathroom-y" smell, which I had read about in a number of the reviews, but that must be due to old plumbing because everything about the hotel was spotlessly clean and well maintained. My room had an air conditioning unit on the wall, but the remote didn't have batteries and there was a large fan in the room, so I'm assuming the AC wasn't functioning. The fan worked just fine to cool things off and also to muffle the noise from the street. (I don't think this is considered a party area, but in this and all of the places I stayed there was quite a bit of noise at night.) They provided breakfast each morning - rolls, ham, cheese, jam, juice, some cold cereal, etc. The location is not right smack in the middle of things, but it's just about a 10-15 min walk to the Baixa and an even shorter walk to the Cais do Sodre metro station, which will connect you to anywhere you want to go. Overall I was happy with this hotel choice (it was definitely the best combination of price + good reviews + location I could find); I ended up changing my plans to come back here at the end of the trip.

I had dinner reservations that evening at La Buvette da Mae d'Agua, a cute little restaurant about 15 minutes from my hotel. Walking to the restaurant I had my first experience with Lisbon's hills - I would be earning my meals from now on! At the restaurant I was at first seated in a small but pretty back terrace, but apparently I hadn't specified the terrace in my reservation, so I was moved inside. I didn't want to eat anything too heavy on this particular night, so I ordered a dish of salad, quinoa, and roast vegetables. That doesn't sound terribly exciting, but it was so good! I wish I could get vegetables to taste that flavorful. I would recommend this restaurant, but be sure and make reservations. It's small and they turned a lot of people away.

A year ago Portugal wasn't even on my radar, but then I came across a blog post or some photos online and there were two things that convinced me I needed to visit this country asap: the gorgeous light and the beautiful tile. When I came out of the restaurant it was golden hour, that time about an hour before the sunset where the light is, well, golden. I wandered up and down the narrow streets, with each pattern of tile I saw becoming a new favorite. I was just giddy with all of the beauty. It was the perfect introduction to what promised to be a fantastic trip.




Last edited by memejs; Jul 22nd, 2018 at 07:16 AM.
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Jul 22nd, 2018, 08:29 AM
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I am eager to read more of your trip report. I remember when you were planning this trip. Love your photos!
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Jul 22nd, 2018, 11:24 AM
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I loved Lisbon and took pictures of the tile all over town. Dying to go back to see more of Lisbon and Sintra as I was only there a short time.
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Jul 23rd, 2018, 01:33 AM
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wonderful.. i love a good trip report. I am off to Portugal in 3 weeks so eager to read more.
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Jul 23rd, 2018, 07:38 AM
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We are going for 16 days in Oct. Thanks so much for this...can't wait to read more..
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Jul 23rd, 2018, 10:48 AM
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DAY 3 - LISBON

You can only do research on Portugal for a short time before learning about pasteis de nata. As an enthusiastic pastry eater I was anxious to try out his signature Portuguese treat. I started out the day walking to Manteigaria, a little chain that sells only pasteis de nata and coffee. I really liked the pastel - the crust was nice and crunchy and the filling was smooth. Of course I wasn't ready to declare a "best pastel" opinion yet, but this could very well be a contender.

Next up was a walking tour. I arrived early to Rossio Square and had some time to people watch and take photos of the patterned cobblestones. I had scheduled ahead a walking tour with Inside Lisbon, chosen due to good reviews on Trip Advisor. We were a group of 15 plus the tour guide. The tour lasted a little over three hours and covered the Baixa/Chaido and the Alfama, with a break for a pastel de nata and a streetcar ride between the two neighborhoods. We did stop at some specific sites, but the tour focused mostly on neighborhoods and general history and culture. It was a good orientation to Lisbon. Our tour guide was great: very knowledgeable and passionate about Portugal plus personable and funny. The tour went a little beyond the planned 3-hours, and I had a lunch reservation, so I left a bit early.

Lunch was at Cantinho do Avillez, one of the many restaurants of chef Jose Avillez. I ordered the pork meatballs in green curry which didn't sound much like traditional Portuguese food, but I had absolutely no reason to regret my choice; the meal was fantastic, one of the best of the trip! I also ordered the strawberry basil cheesecake in a jar for dessert, which was good but not out of the this world. While I slowly savored every bite of my entree, I couldn't help but overhear the long and very circular argument between a couple seated near me; I decided that I was much better off being alone but completely content on my trip rather than determining the end of my relationship while on an expensive vacation!

After lunch it was shopping time. I had intentionally packed light, thinking I'd find a summery dress or shirt or even a pair of sandals to take home with me. I hit up Mango, Zara, and some of the other stores in the heart of Chiado but didn't find anything I liked enough to buy...and never did, even though I regularly stopped in at stores throughout the trip. While in Chiado I made sure to stop in at Livraria Bertram, the oldest bookstore in continual operation in the world. I love to read, and I've made visiting local bookstores and buying a book part of my site-seeing/souvenir buying in the places I visit. The selection of English-language books at Bertram was fairly small, but I did pick up a copy to 1984 to add to my library. (I found it interesting that dystopian novels like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World were some of the few books that made an appearance in the English-language selections of just about all of the bookstores I visited.) I also spent a bit of time in A Vida Portuguesa, where I picked up some blank notebooks for my sister, who likes to draw.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with wandering. I wasn't too worried about checking a lot of sites off a list - I had a few days ahead of me to do that - I just wanted to get a good feel for Lisbon. I meandered up to the Igreja Sao Roque, whose unassuming exterior hides a rather ornate interior. The painted wood ceiling is especially impressive. After spending a few minutes exploring the church I continued up the hill to Miradouro de Sao Pedro. Before coming on this trip I had imagined Portugal as a land of orange roofs and pretty blue water, and for once reality looked very, very much like what I had pictured in my mind. (Sometimes reality is better and sometimes it's worse, but most of the time things just look different - are orientated differently, feel different, etc. than what I imagine. Lisbon is one of those very rare places that looks just as I had imagined it.)

For dinner I had a reservation at Palacio Chiado, a palace that has been turned into a collection of restaurants. You are seated somewhere in the beautifully decorated building, but you can order off any of the menus. My reservation was for 7pm, and it felt like I was one of the first guests of the evening. I was seated at a plush emerald-green banquette built into a corner behind a small table in a circular room with a giant gold winged lion hanging from the ceiling. For once as a solo diner it felt like I had the best table in the room! Despite the fairly opulent surroundings, the menus aren't high-end. I ordered turmeric chicken (13 euros), which turned out to be just average; I wished that I had ordered the cheese plate and a mocktail.

My last stop of the evening was the Rossio train station with its distinct entrance of side-by-side horseshoe-shaped arches. The outside of the station is ornate, but I found that the inside is rather nondescript.

This was a great first full day in Lisbon. The walking tour gave me a good orientation to the city, the excellent lunch confirmed my decision to put a deliberate focus on food, and I now own a book purchased at the oldest bookstore in the world!





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Jul 23rd, 2018, 12:13 PM
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I am enjoying your report and love your photos! So far you have eaten at different restaurants than we did so it's nice to read about places we didn't get to. How was the weather?
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Jul 23rd, 2018, 02:52 PM
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@KarenWoo: The weather was beautiful! It gets a little warm trudging up and up and up all those hills, but really the weather was pretty perfect. I think the hottest day was the day I spent on the beach at Cascais. The days I spent in central Portugal were overcast and even drizzly, but as my report will show, I wasn't out and about too much those days anyway.
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Jul 23rd, 2018, 03:03 PM
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Enjoying your TR! Looking forward to more.
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Jul 25th, 2018, 04:00 AM
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Not planning on visiting Portugal myself, but enjoying your report and photos.
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Jul 25th, 2018, 06:17 AM
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Very much enjoying your report and photos. Please continue!
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Jul 25th, 2018, 08:34 AM
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Love this report! Looking forward to more. Looking forward to going to Portugal as well.
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Jul 25th, 2018, 08:39 PM
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DAY 4 – LISBON

This was one of the best days of the trip! It started with breakfast at Café A Brasileira. Normally I opt to eat on the terrace, but the whole reason for visiting this café is its beautiful, historic interior, so that’s where I sat. I don’t remember what I ate; it doesn’t stand out in my memory. It was probably an orange juice and a pastry and I’m sure it was fine, but I came for the interior rather than the food, so I was satisfied.

Next I went back to my hotel to check out, grab my luggage, and take a bus to Home Lisbon Hostel. I was overall happy with this hostel – sure it’s a hostel so privacy and luxury aren’t to be expected, but the staff was friendly, the bathrooms were clean enough, it had AC, and the location was fantastic. My only complaint is that there was a very strong perfumey/powdery smell in the hallway.

Once that was complete I took a bus out to the National Tile Museum. This museum is located a bit outside of the historic center of the city – not too far, but not walking distance. I spent about an hour and a half here and thought it worth the 5 euro entrance fee. In addition to the galleries featuring tile throughout various centuries, the museum houses a reconstructed church with large tile sections that’s pretty impressive. There’s also a large tile panorama of Lisbon on the top floor; it was fun to look at how Lisbon was depicted in the past compared to what it looks like now. Finally, I really liked the examples of contemporary tile designs that are hung on the walls outside some of the galleries.

I had lunch at Pois Café, which is a hipster café in the Alfama. It has couches – as well as tables and chairs – books around the perimeter of the café, and people working on laptops and having leisurely lunches. There were lots of fresh, healthy meal options, and I was happy with the sandwich I ordered.

The plan for the rest of the afternoon was to explore the Alfama neighborhood – the old part of the city on a hill with lots of little twisty roads. I’d gotten an introduction on yesterday’s tour, but today was the day to really dive in, and what follows is what makes this one of the best and most memorable days of the trip.I made a quick visit to the cathedral, which isn’t too exciting. Then I wandered the streets for just a little while before coming upon Miradouro de Santa Luzia. What a gorgeous spot! There’s a walkway with a terrace overhead and tile on the low walls. To one side is the view of those gorgeous orange roofs and the pretty blue water and to the other side there’s a little square with a big shade tree and bougainvillea climbing the white walls of a church. There was a man in the square playing the most beautiful violin music. I could not stop taking pictures and videos! I wanted to adequately capture the scene and though I knew a camera could never fully convey what it was like to be there in person, I was going to do my best to try. I sat for maybe 45 minutes at this viewpoint, soaking it all in and already realizing that this would be one of the most memorable experiences of the trip. As the violinist was packing up to go I tossed a few euros in his case and moved the short distance up to Miradouro das Portas do Sol. I had been here the day before on the walking tour, but the gorgeous view was worth some more time. I bought a lemonade from a drink stand and settled into a chair to spend a little more time savoring that view.

One of the things you can see from the viewpoint it the Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora. I meandered my way along the streets until I got to the church. The interior is nice, but the exterior is more impressive. I believe that the attached monastery has a beautiful interior, but I opted to spend my time outside rather than touring the monastery.

I wandered my way to a couple more viewpoints – which I didn’t note down. The most impressive one, however, I did make a note of: Nossa Senhora do Monte Belvedere. I’m not sure if this is the highest viewpoint in Lisbon, but it sure felt like it. There was a guy playing the guitar, singing songs in both English and Portuguese, and he was really good. Despite all of the cigarette smoke (my biggest pet peeve when traveling outside the US), I sat there for a long while listening to the music. Once I decided to go, I wandered my way down, through pretty neighborhoods that felt a touch less touristy than the Baixa, to my hostel.

One of the main reasons I chose this hostel (in addition to its rave reviews) is Mama’s Dinner. Every night there is a home cooked meal that hostel guests can sign up for. For 10 euros you get soup, an entrée with sides, and dessert. I did this two nights and both times the food was delicious. The first time the meal was cooked by Mama, the mother of the hostel’s owner, and the second time it was cooked by a former employee. The cook always comes out and eats with the guests. I’m an introvert and could easily spend a solo vacation having minimal interactions with others, so I chose to participate in these dinners as a way to force myself to meet other people. On this night there was a big table filled with frat boy types – it seemed like most were British and Americans – but I got lucky and ended up sitting at a little table with a woman from Germany traveling on her own for the first time and two friends from Las Vegas who would be doing a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. We had a good conversation during dinner – as good as you can have when you’re trying to talk in a really loud room. The dinner is leisurely and it was 10:30pm or so by the time we finished, but my table mates (who had just arrived in town) and I decided to go out for a short walk to see the cathedral lit up at night. The short walk actually ended up being a long meander through the Alfama, so I got to bed later than I had wanted, but it was worth it to talk with some new people and learn about their lives and previous travels.







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Jul 26th, 2018, 07:56 PM
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DAY 5 - CASCAIS

I had thought that yesterday might be the best day of the trip, but this day was just as good, if not better.I started out with breakfast at Confeitaria Nacional, one of the places that claims to have the best pasteis de nata in Lisbon. The pastel was good but I liked Manteigaria better.

My daily pastel duty done, I walked to the Cais do Sodre metro/train station and boarded a train for Cascais. For these regional trains you don't need to purchase a ticket ahead of time. You scan your Viva Viagem card as you walk in and out of the automatic gates, just as you would at a metro station. Super easy! If I remember correctly I took an 8am train; I just can't get myself to sleep in. It was a fairly empty, peaceful ride for about 15 minutes, then a loud group of pre-teens boarded for the remaining 20 minutes or so. They must have been some sort of summer school group because there were a couple of drill-sergeant teachers with them trying to make the kids stay in line but mostly just adding to the noise.

Once we arrived at the station I high-tailed it out of there and made directly for the beach. I had brought my swimsuit with me, but I also had a fairly substantial list of sites on my list to see, so my plan was to explore first, then spend the latter part of the day on the beach. But first I needed a few minutes to rest - why had I gotten up so early?! I found a smooth boulder to lean against and watched the drill-sergeant teachers micro-manage their students' beach trip (they had apparently followed me to the same section of the beach...I don't entirely blame the teachers for trying to keep a bunch of hormonal pre-teens in line, but they could have chilled out just a bit!).

After a nice half-hour rest, I got up and began to explore. Just over some rocks from where I was there was an even nicer little cove; maybe I'd come back here later. I did a little walking up and down the streets of the town, stopping in at Santini - likely their first customer of the day - for ice cream. I ended up on a main square, just across from Ribeira Beach. I've already talked about how pretty I found Portugal, but this day was just amazing: clear skies, warm but not too warm sun, the most beautiful blue water. And then there were the beach houses - not crumbly beach shacks, but gorgeous mansions. Victorian beach house is my new favorite style of architecture! When I tell people about Cascais I tell them that Lisbon is very pretty, but it's a real city: there's some trash, horns honking, etc. Cascais is storybook pretty; it's almost too perfect, but I loved it.

I walked along the road until I got to the fortress. Inside the old fortress there’s an arts district. It looks like an upscale hotel, condos, and various galleries or studios. The architecture is stark white and totally modern; you might think that that would make it bare or cold, but with the architecture and lack of decoration was a perfect complement to the bright sun. I didn’t find much of anything to do inside the arts district, but if you’re a fan of architecture, it’s definitely worth a quick walk inside the complex.

At this point I decided to reformulate my plan for the day. I had left the next day open in my itinerary so that I could get around to doing anything in Lisbon I hadn’t had time for yet. I was enjoying Cascais so much that I decided it warranted two days. So instead of changing into my swimsuit and spending the afternoon on the beach, I’d continue wandering around Cascais today and come back tomorrow for a beach day. Happy with my new plans, I walked back into the heart of the city for lunch.

Lunch at Café Galeria House of Wonders was another best meal of the trip. This is a vegetarian restaurant. I’m not vegetarian but I like vegetarian restaurants because I figure that if they’re rated well they must be doing really creative, tasty things with vegetables. On the main floor you choose one of the day’s three options ; I went with a tasting plate of all of the day’s mezzes. You go up a floor and get to choose your drink: fresh mango, passionfruit, orange juice for me. And then you go up one more floor to the rooftop, where there are various tables, chairs and cushions. The food was amazing – more than I could eat – and the setting and view were spectacular. I highly recommend this restaurant; the food tastes great but it’s also light enough to be perfect for a beach day.

My stomach full, I walked back past the fortress/arts district to the Museu Condes de Castro Guimaraes. This is the preserved home of the aristocratic Castro Guimaraes family. It’s full of beautiful furnishings – some of which belonged to the family and some that are just old, beautiful objects that deserve to be preserved and displayed somewhere. In a room on the top floor there was an exhibit of watercolor sketched of Cascais. I really wish that I had that ability and that I could preserve memories of my travels with drawings. I do make little sketches in my travel journal but I’m definitely no artist.

Across the street from the museum there’s a cove that offers a really pretty view of the lighthouse.
I went to a second house museum that I can’t find the name of anywhere. Its entrance fee was good for the museum plus the lighthouse, just a little further down the road. I wouldn’t put either of the house museums or the lighthouse on a “do not miss” list, but I did enjoy my visits. The Museu Condes de Castro Guimaraes is located within a beautiful park that I do think it worth taking some time to explore. There were blooming hydrangeas everywhere, plus some vocal roosters and even a lounging peacock. By this point it was getting later in the day I was ready to head back to Lisbon.

Once back at Cais do Sodre, I walked across the street to the Time Out Market. Lunch had been so filling that none of the heavy food I saw appealed much to me, so I ended up getting chocolate ganache cake from one of the stands (I think it was Nois e Mais Bolos). It was fantastic! People were gathering around a large screen to watch the Brazil/Belgium World Cup game; I wanted to stay and watch but couldn’t find anywhere to sit, so after leaning against a wall for a while I gave up and started walking back to the hostel.


On the way back I found that even more people had gathered to watch an even bigger screen in the Praca do Comercio. I joined the back of the crowd and started to watch. I told myself I would just stay for fifteen minutes or so since I was tired, but by the time those fifteen minutes were up the energy had infected me and I had a second wind. I found a more comfortable spot leaning against a street light a little further back. The street had been blocked off and there was a little boy kicking around a ball with his dad. A couple of other little kids soon joined, and their antics were more entertaining than the actual game! Once Belgium got their win the crowd began to disperse and I made the rest of the way back to the hostel.

DAY 6 – CASCAIS

Beach day! I repeated the journey of the previous day, albeit in a train that left a little later. I had scoped out the beaches the day before and decided that I wanted to be at Praia da Rainha. There were a number of beach loungers set up on one area of the beach, and for 14 euros a chair and umbrella in the front row were mine for the day. The day was clear and warm – when I got back to Lisbon that afternoon I found it to be hotter than any of the previous days – but the water was chilly. I just went in once to dunk myself and it took some bravery to let that icy water touch my skin! I read and dozed and snacked and basically didn’t move much for the greater portion of the day. It was wonderful! Because I had thoroughly explored the town the day before I didn’t feel my usual wrestle between relaxing/absorbing one place and exploring/making sure to see all the best spots.

I came back to Lisbon early enough to shower, change, and get to the Carmo Convent Museum before it closed. This is a church that was partially destroyed during the 1755 earthquake. The skeleton of the church still stands, and it’s beautiful – a must-see site in Lisbon. I wished that I had brought along ear buds so that I could have listened to a powerful piece of classical music while sketching the church. It felt like that would have fit the setting and it would have made the experience even more memorable.

I had dinner at Bairro Avillez – a collection of Chef Avillez’s restaurants. The food on the Taberna’s menu looked most interesting to me, but I specifically wanted a dessert from the Pateo’s menu (one that I’d read about on a trip report here). I was seated in the Taberna, which is at the front of the building. From my observations of other people coming in, it sounds like you definitely need a reservation for the other restaurants. I ordered a cozido pie – a small meat-filled hand pie – and a lettuce wrap with roasted pork, pickles, cilantro, and peppermint. I wasn’t sure how big either dish would be, and both ended up being small, appetizer size. But that lettuce wrap was amazing! I much prefer dishes that combine different flavors and textures to something like a big steak. Now it was dessert time! The restaurant staff was really nice in getting me a menu from the Pateo and also really curious about which dessert I was so intent on ordering. It’s the passion fruit with coconut sorbet. There’s a deep purple ball sitting on top of coconut sorbet topped with passion fruit seeds, served inside of a coconut shell. You break the ball with your spoon and inside there is passion fruit mousse. I was trying to figure out what the “ball” was made of – it tasted sort of like blackberries. I asked the waiter and he said that it was passion fruit juice frozen in liquid nitrogen. It was a super interesting dessert – nice and light. Another win for Chef Avillez!







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Jul 27th, 2018, 01:02 AM
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these phots are just wonderful.. loving your trip report.
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Jul 27th, 2018, 04:08 AM
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Still enjoying your report and your beautiful photos! The day we spent in the Alfama was one of our favorite days, if not our favorite, too. We spent the morning a the Castle Sao Jorge, which we really enjoyed. some people find it boring, but we thought it was fun walking along the walls and up and down the stairs. We took tons of photos from the miradouro and enjoyed the peacocks! After having lunch nearby, we spent the rest of the day wandering through the Alfama, and we did go inside the Igreja de Sao Vicente Fora, (the attached monastery), and the tiles inside are gorgeous! We didn't have time for the Tile Museum, so we were happy to see the tiles in the monastery.

We took a bus tour to Sintra (we don't usually do bus tours), which included a brief trip to Cascais. It was a quick trip but we saw beautiful coastal scenery. So nice that you spent 2 days there!
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Jul 27th, 2018, 04:10 AM
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I envy you that you ate at Confeitaria Nacional. We went there one evening after dinner for dessert, but they had already closed. Then we were never in the area around lunch time, so never made it there to eat.
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Jul 27th, 2018, 07:04 AM
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So enjoying this! Cascais is wonderful. I did the same thing and went back for a second time.
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Jul 27th, 2018, 10:31 AM
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@KarenWooI never got around to the Castle. It was on my list of "if I have time" sights and I never ended up having time. But I spent time at a number of viewpoints, so I don't regret not making time for it too much. I probably should have spent time at the monastery in place of the Tile Museum. I prefer to see things in context rather than in museums, although the museum was still nice.

@Weekender - Cascais is what I talk about when people ask me about my favorite part of the trip.

@millie2112 - Thanks!
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Jul 29th, 2018, 06:30 PM
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DAY 7 - BELEM

My first stop of the day was none other than Pasteis de Belem. Many people say these are the best pasteis de nata, and I was anxious to find out if I would agree. It was only 10am or so, but the lines were already out the door. It didn't look like a table would be available any time soon, so I joined the take away line and ordered two pasteis to go. I walked down the block and across the street and settled myself on a bench to eat my breakfast. They include little packets of powdered sugar and cinnamon with the pasteis, which is nice. The custard was still warm when I bit into the first one. It was full and rich and flakey....definitely the best pasteis de nata I ate in Portuga!

Next up was the Jeronimos Monastery. I had bought my ticket online before the trip, which saved me from waiting in a long line. The architecture of the monastery is beautiful. I didn't go inside the church because mass was being conducted during my visit, so I'm not sure whether or not I missed out on something amazing. I don't really have much more to say about this site, but I did enjoy my time there.

By now it was time for lunch. I joined a line at the popular but tiny Pao Pao Quiejo Quiejo. The line moved more quickly than anticipated and I didn't have time to find an English menu or translate much of the Portuguese menu on my phone, so I just ordered #1, a shawarma baguette sandwich. It was excellent; that bread! And for less than 4 euros it was the cheapest meal I ate in Portugal.

My stomach full, I walked through a tunnel that takes you under the busy street and up to the Discoveries Monument. The scale of this thing is huge; I don't think pictures do it justice! There's a biking and walking path right along the water that leads almost all the way to the Belem Tower (at one point you have to walk around a marina to get to the tower). I didn't feel the need to go up either the monument or the tower, but I sat for a while at the base of each one to people watch and listen to street performers.

At this point in the trip - after several days of going full-steam from early until late - I was starting to get tired. Also, it was a fairly warm day. I was lower on energy than I had been earlier in the week and I considered skipping the National Coach Museum, even though I had already bought a ticket online. But I remembered all of the great reviews and forced myself to go. I'm so glad I did; this was one of the highlights of the trip! The museum was founded at the beginning of the 20th century by the Queen of Portugal, who recognized that horse-drawn coaches would be replaced by automobiles. There are two big halls,and I started in the one with coaches from the 19th and early 20th century. You're probably supposed to start in the other hall, but I'm glad I started here because I was impressed with the rather simple coaches in this hall...then I went to the other hall and WOW! The royal and imperial coaches from the 17th and 18th centuries are beyond impressive. Today's world leaders travel in motorcades, but that's nothing compared to the gilded vehicles that kings, queens, and popes of the past used (although I'm sure today's vehicles are much more comfortable). You read about coaches in books and see them in period dramas, but it's so cool in see in person these vehicles that were actually used by royalty and nobility hundreds of years ago. I believe the museum used to be housed in an old, ornate building that mirrored the style of the carriages. It's moved to a huge, modern complex whose architecture is equally impressive, though very different. It seems like Lisbon has dozens and dozens of museums. Every time I saw a cool-looking building it turned out to be a museum!

Rather than take a bus or streetcar, I opted to walk to the LX Factory. With all of the eating I was doing I wanted to be sure to balance it out with lots of movement! In fact, my first stop within the LX Factory was Landau for their famous chocolate cake. The cake was very good, but I have to admit that I liked yesterday's chocolate cake at the Time Out Market a little better. The LX Factory was very crowded; I'm assuming that's because it was a weekend, but maybe it's crowded all of the time. I stopped in at Ler Devagar, the bookshop you've probably seen on Instagram a million times. Their selection of English books wasn't great, so I didn't buy anything there. I did buy some jams and a really good piri-piri sauce at a little stand at the far end of the market.

That night I participated for a second time in Mama's Dinner at the hostel. The food was just as good as it had been the first time and the room was a little more relaxed (no table of frat boys doing shots). I had good conversations with my tablemates - two friends from Hong Kong and a girl from Japan . I went to bed fairly early because I wanted to catch an early bus to Sintra the next morning.



(I had a photo here of one of the most ornate carriages, but I decided to take it out because I don't want to ruin the surprise for anyone that will be going to the Coach Museum. I didn't know quite what to expect when I went and I was so wowed by what I saw! Sometimes not knowing what you're getting yourself into is the best approach.)

Last edited by memejs; Jul 29th, 2018 at 06:48 PM.
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