Travel Diaries: Portugal

Praça do Comércio

Jardim Don Luis

Quinta da Regaleira

Boca do Inferno

Out of all the places I traveled to during spring break (Paris, Portugal & Barcelona), Portugal was definitely my favorite. I will choose warm weather over cold weather and palm trees over snow any day. Portugal was the warmest destination we went to (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit the whole time) and sunny for the most part. Besides scenery/culture, Portugal and Paris (featured in my last travel diary) are very different in the sense of the way you approach them as a tourist. Paris has so many specific sites that you go to see whereas Lisbon (where we spent most of our time) is a city that you casually explore just to appreciate the scenery and architecture. 
Our Airbnb was in the historic district of Lisbon, right near the water. I highly recommend staying in this area because it is prettier and there is much more to do and see. A group of friends from school that we met up with while there stayed in the downtown area that was more residential and filled with office buildings and it wasn't so nice or fun. 
Besides the tropical vibes of Lisbon, my favorite part was the food and restaurant scene. If you love seafood, you have to go to Portugal. They are known for having amazing seafood –it's all so fresh since it's right off the Atlantic coast! They put a lot of effort into having nice restaurants (unlike Rome where I'm studying abroad) and I appreciated it and enjoyed it thoroughly. There is a brand new restaurant market in Lisbon (very similar to Chelsea Market in NYC or Ponce City Market in Atlanta) called "Time Out Market." It had a huge variety of amazing quick service and sit down restaurants and dessert shops. I will bread down our itinerary chronologically like I did in my last travel diary. 

Day 1

- Ate lunch at a restaurant called "Can the Can" in Praça do Comércio, the main square in the historic district. The name makes it sound like it would be cheap and inauthentic but it was very good! I got the eggplant stuffed with Mackerel. 

- Walked along the coast near Praça do Comércio and then in the neighborhood right above Praça do Comércio, marveling at all of the intricate and unique tile work on the buildings. 

- Ate dinner at THE most authentic Portuguese restaurant I believe exists. It is called Lisboa Tu e Eu and its hidden in the hilly neighborhood in the historic district. The restaurant is insanely small and cramped but it was definitely one of my favorite experiences of my entire spring break. The restaurant serves tapas that cost an average of 5 euros per plate but the food was so good we ended up spending a total of 75 euros for 4 people! I hate what sausage is in america but the sausage here (served with fried egg) was completely different and incredible. It had a soft, melt-in-your-mouth type of texture. We also had fried cod fritters, beans and rice and incredible chocolate mousse. 

Day 2

- Met up with our other group of friends from school and went to a not noteworthy spot for breakfast. 

- Went to a beach town about a 45 minute train ride away called Cascais to have a relaxing day on the beach. Lisbon, itself, does not have any beaches! The entire coastline is used for industrial purposes. 

- After spending the afternoon on the beach, we went to a cliffside area, Boca do Inferno. My braver friends scaled the side of the cliff while I sat back and took photos. 

Day 3

- Spend the whole day exploring a town up in the mountains called Sintra. The town is surrounded by a national park that has all sorts natural and manmade attractions including caves, wells, palaces and castles. The palaces and castles were very spread out and many had a high entrance fee so we only went to one, Quinta da Regaleira. There was a low entrance fee to the park but it was free to get into this palace. 

I highly, highly recommend visiting Portugal, I feel like it is one of the most underrated countries in Europe. However, I kind of love that it is underrated because it made the experience feel so much more authentic and less touristy. 

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