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Portugal - early planning stage-stay in Lisbon 7 nights or split time

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Mar 28th, 2013, 10:33 AM
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Portugal - early planning stage-stay in Lisbon 7 nights or split time

I'll be going to Portugal in early September with 3 friends and we are in the early stages of planning what to do. None of us have been there before and have had it on our bucket lists for a long time. We are interested in the architecture, culture, pottery, wine and food. We will be arriving there after 7 nights in Marrakesh. We will be arriving by plane (seems to be the easiest way to get there without spending all day traveling). We are open to having a car or using public transport. We will depart for home from Lisbon and we all want to visit that city. We are thinking of basing ourselves there, renting an apartment and take day trips to places like Sintra, Fatima, Cascais, and others that spark our fancy but also explore Lisbon. We do want to do wine/port tastings. We also thought of splitting the time between Porto and Lisbon. The only issue is that the flights from Marrakesh seem to fly into Lisbon, then change planes to go anywhere else. Which is what makes us lean to staying put in Lisbon just for the convenience. We are not interested in moving to a different hotel every day, we like to have a home base and go from there, but 3 nights in one place and 4 in another is doable. So, you Portugal experts - what suggestions or insight can you share with me?
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Mar 28th, 2013, 12:08 PM
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There is certainly enough to do for you to stay in Lisbon - click on my name for my Lisbon TR. If you do want to do more than day trips consider Evora. You don't need to go to Porto for a good opportunity to taste port, just visit the Solar do Vinho do Porto.
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Mar 28th, 2013, 01:02 PM
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Not sure I'm a Lisbon expert but we spent a month there this January and i did a lot of blogging while we were there which might give you an idea of some of the options in and around town. I'd second the recommendation for Solar do Vinho do Porto. We very much enjoyed the Gulbenkian Museum which I would recommend along with Lisbon Spirit for walking tours. We had some excellent meals at 100 Manieras, Cantinho Avillez and Duvall, it always worth making reservations. With a month in Lisbon we still didn't make it up to Porto so I'd be inclined to stay ut fot the week but heard great things from friends who made it up there while visiting us. The train works well, could you fly out of Porto so you don't have to double back? If cost is a factor a weekly apartment rental will be the cheaper option vs. hotels in two places and you could even go to the fish market (which we loved) and cook one night if that appeals.

Hope the blog helps!

http://somuchmoretosee.blogspot.fr/s...label/Portugal
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Mar 28th, 2013, 01:27 PM
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If you are considering an apartment in Lisbon I remember seeing a lovely reasonably priced apartment listed on VRBO located in the Chiado district. I will try and to find it and post a link. I am totally a fan of renting apartments over hotel stays wherever we travel. Having more space to spread out in not to mention a fridge are only two reasons we do so.
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Mar 28th, 2013, 04:26 PM
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Mar 29th, 2013, 09:35 AM
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You may want to read this trip report by Fodorite Mr_Go

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-to-lisbon.cfm

I recall the pictures of the apartment they rented looked great and they seemed to have really liked it.
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Mar 29th, 2013, 05:45 PM
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Thanks so much everyone! Lots to think about and I will be sure to read the trip reports you recommend! Really looking forward to visiting Lisbon!
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Mar 31st, 2013, 11:47 AM
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I just got back from 10 days in Portugal. We were mostly in Lisbon, but went up to Porto for 3 nights. The train is an easy way to get to Porto and back. It takes about 3 hours and is reasonably-priced and convenient. Porto is a really different place, and highly-recommended.

We had a great time in Lisbon, didn't even have time to go to the Gulbenkian or Sintra, so that just means we'll have to go back.

Take comfortable shoes and be prepared for lots of walking up and down hill! Both Lisbon and Porto are very vertical cities.

Don't miss Belem, with its attractions--easily accessible by tram. The public transportation system is greay, metro, trams, trolleys, funiculars.

Food can be challenging, but once we got into the Portuguese way of doing things, we really enjoyed the food.
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Apr 1st, 2013, 10:03 AM
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WWanderer...

I'll be in Portugal in May and I'm curious about your comment "Food can be challenging, but once we got into the Portuguese way of doing things". Food is a huge part of my travel experiences and something I really enjoy.

I was wondering if you meant the late dining hour in Portugal (I'm assuming it's similar to Spain in that regard)or if there was something else that you had to adapt to? If it's the late dining, that is not a problem for me, in fact, I enjoy it. But was just interested to hear about your take on how things are done there (food-wise that is)
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Apr 1st, 2013, 09:01 PM
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It's not the late dining hours in Portugal (unlike Spain), it's the size of the portions, especially in the north. We found that out a few years ago when the waiter asked us if we really wanted to order what we have selected. Only when the dishes arrived did we realize what he was talking about. One order would have easily fed a family of 4, and here we were with a table full of great food we could not possibly consume.

The best thing to do is ask how large the portions are before ordering. Also, you'll want to be aware that the extra dishes they put on your table, tempting appetizers, bread, etc., are not free as they are in Spain. If you touch them, you pay for them, which can be €4 to €6/person in most places. Just waive them away and let them know you are not interested.
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Apr 2nd, 2013, 05:50 AM
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Robert2533...

Thanks, this is very good to know.
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Apr 10th, 2013, 02:40 AM
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Highly recommend the €45 tasting menu at this restaurant, 100 Maneiras in Bairro Alto: http://www.restaurante100maneiras.com/?q=N/-/47

BUT be very sure you are making reservations at the RESTAURANT as they have a bistro with the same name and we saw many people get turned away at the door for having made reservations at the wrong place. The tasting menu is only available at the restaurant. And reservations are essential!

I found food in portugal disappointing as I dont like salt cod, and it was pretty basic in most places (roast chicken, roast potatoes etc). But when I did research before we found some great places like the one above that are very affordable.

Enjoy your trip!
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Apr 10th, 2013, 09:02 AM
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LowCountryIslander,

There is no international knowledge of Portuguese cuisine like there is for so many other nationalities. So the mode of preparation is different, and the dishes are largely unfamiliar to most North Americans at least. It's not spicey, but definitely they use different herb/spice combinations.

The late dining didn't particularly bother me, although it was true that at around 8 p.m. the restaurants were still mostly empty!

Dining rituals seem different too--dining rooms in the back of little bistros, with white linen table cloths can be a little intimidating, but they are meant to be homey I think. Once you sit down, the food begins--beware the appetizers that they plunk on your table--they are mostly really yummy, but not free--you pay for everything, including bread.

I particularly liked Feijoada (meat and bean casserole), cataplana (a fish/seafood stew cooked in a special pan), all the fish cooked many different ways and seafood. I luckily had a phrasebook that had a food section, so sometimes if we were stuck, we could translate the dishes.

Once we got into the swing of it, we were having a great time with the food, it just took a bit of courage.
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Apr 10th, 2013, 09:11 AM
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It may not be gourmet, but Portugal has the BEST rotisserie chicken. And the piri piri sauce to go with it is definitely spicy. If I'm in Lisbon I eat at least once at Bom Jardim - zero ambiance but delicious chicken. And the very best chicken I ever ate was in a small fishing village on the Atlantic coast in 1970, but unfortunately I don't remember the name.
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Apr 10th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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check out the pousadas..They often have remarkable bargins and are so well worth it. First class all the way..pousadas.pt..If you go north try the "broda"..a heavy peasant bread..Yum Yum!! Cataplana..so good I brought home a pan to use here..Lacks the ambiance but the taste is pretty close..Portugal is one of my favorite places along with No. Spain..Still not overcrowded and very welcoming!! Oh and yes..if you imbibe, try ginjha..A cherry brandy sort of licq. again Yum!!!
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Apr 10th, 2013, 09:37 AM
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WWanderer....

Thanks for the information! I was in Portugal 25 years ago and don't remember much about the food, but over the years, my interest in food & wine has definitely expanded, along with my waistline! ;-)
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Apr 15th, 2013, 08:16 AM
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I don't recommend Fatima if you're not a very religious person. There are so much more beautiful places to go i wouldn't spend any time there.
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Apr 15th, 2013, 08:30 AM
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I will give you a list of places i enjoy spending time in portugal:

Lisbon baixa-chiado area, cascais coastal beaches, sintra, belém, and the night in bairro alto are definitly worth it, go to quinta da regaleira and palacio da pena in sintra!

Porto and Serra do geres

Aveiro and Serra do buçaco

Algarve, três irmãos beach in alvor and the islands of farol, culatra and tavira.

Costa vicentina area, like arrifana, monte clérigo, odeceixe and some of the alentejo interior like evora.

Search all of this areas and with a map and your time findout what suits you better.
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Apr 17th, 2013, 10:15 AM
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Wow - lots of good information, thanks so much!
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Apr 27th, 2013, 09:05 AM
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Love Lisbon! I keep going back because it's such a nice place. Make sure you take a tram to the Belem neighborhood. The little custard tarts at the Pasteis Belem place are fantastic (and I don't even like custard very much!). They're at least twice as good as the ones made by other bakeries in Lisbon. Plus, in a little alley right near it is a really good wine bar that serves really good food to go with (it's a small place).
Some interesting museums within walking distance. Most decent guidebooks or travel websites have good specific info on Belem.
And I second the piri piri chicken recc. It's a very simple dish, but very tasty. Many places near the main squares serve it, and you can then walk a block or two to join the businessmen and cab drivers in line for a shot of jinja at the little hole in the wall that sells it.
First time my girlfriend and I went to Lisbon, we had our travel agent book a private 3-4 hour walking/taxi/tram tour with a local guide. It didn't cost a lot (I'm very far from wealthy) and it really was money well spent. We covered so much ground that we felt like we could really make the most of the rest of our time there without wasting a second of it.
P.S. Sinatra is very pretty and worth a trip. Use the buses there to reach the historic sites unless you like a hike. We walked up to the old fort and enjoyed it, but our legs were very sore the next day.
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