Even though I’m Stateside again (Surprise! Long story, whatever), I still have a few more fantastic travel tales to share with you guys, so I’ll be sharing them on #traveltuesdays with my recommendations and experiences.
This week in Lisbon. In planning out my trip, everyone I spoke to had nothing but amazing things to say about Lisbon. How beautiful it is, how much fun it is, etc. Something I learned about myself while abroad is managing my expectations. It’s probably something I should’ve done with Lisbon. *hides from angry mob*
Let’s start at the beginning. So, I’d just come from having the time of my life in Madrid (see post here) . I took an overnight bus – worst sleep ever – to arrive bright and early at about 7 and make my way over to my hostel.
Where I Stayed
If you remember from the Madrid post, I really loved my hostel, Safestay Madrid (also known as Equity Point Lisbon. I dunno.) . I was excited then when I was headed to Safestay Lisbon. In case you don’t know, Lisbon has a lot of stairs. Like A LOT. I’d just gotten off of this overnight bus and now have to drag myself up all these stairs, I was huffing and puffing like a creeper when the employee got to the door. All I wanted to do was sleep. But check in wasn’t until 2 pm. Any museums I might want to check out didn’t open until 10 am so, I ended up just hanging out in the common area with my Kindle Fire plugged in watching Netflix.
Once I was checked in (at exactly 2 pm!), I went upstairs to my room (a 12 person mixed dorm) and crashed for a few hours. I do remember hearing some loud banging like construction at some point late at night and may or may not have cursed at my fellow roommates for talking too loud. I don’t remember, so maybe it was a dream?
Gotta say, I think this was my least favorite hostel that I’ve ever stayed in. It wasn’t terrible, but definitely not on par with their sister hostel Safestay Madrid. For starters, there aren’t outlets located next to every bed. This sounds like a first world problem, and it is, but when you’re traveling, you really need your technology to be charged so you can get from place to place. As a result, everyone is in the common area charging their stuff and not socializing. Which leads to my second point, while the hostel staff was nice when I spoke with them, they don’t actually host any events. It’s all done through another company. So you have to go out of your way to find the group and do your pub crawl or what have you. Ok, for the walking tour someone comes and gets you, but it’s not the same as having someone you may actually see again in the hostel lead you around.
What I Did
There happened to be a flier in the hostel advertising this venue for Portugal’s famous style of music. I still had some energy after dinner and this place wasn’t too far of a walk. I felt a little awkward when I came in since someone was already singing and there was sit, so I just stood by the doorway until the singer finished. Some other people had come in too and we were invited to come further into the venue. It’s such an intimate event, it’s really like being at someone’s family gathering, and all of their family members happened to be super talented singers and all have cds for sale. It was pretty cool to experience, even with not understanding a single word of Portuguese.
This was actually my favorite museum that I went to in Europe. (Yes, including Academy…. in Florence) Turns out I really like contemporary art. Lots of Warhol, pop art, and some other super cool experimental art. I spent hours here.
Day Trip to Sintra
To be honest, I think my trip to Sintra is what really made my trip to Portugal. It’s maybe an hour or so outside of Lisbon, on a train similar to Metro North. Sintra is a cute little town that’s home to Peña Palace, the Moorish Castle, and the National Palace. I did this the very day I was to fly back out to Prague so I was on a bit of a time crunch and I definitely could’ve spent more time here, but it was beautiful and I was really glad I went. Peña Palace is just so breathtaking, with its striking colors and details. I didn’t love the Moorish Castle as much, there were beautiful views, but I think I’m kind of over castles. (And yes, I realize how ridiculously arrogant that sounds. ) I didn’t go inside the National Palace, but I did sit outside and soaked up the sun – in December!!! – with a pasteis de belem and pasteis de nata in hand. It was glorious.
Where I Ate
This is a huge food market, with loads of different vendors, similar to Chelsea Market downtown. I was a little hesitant to go here because I thought it might be too hipster-y or not “local” enough. But after reading up on it a bit and seeing that there’s space for real local vendors as well, I was persuaded to check it out. I tried some Stone Soup and some bacalao, both were delicious and reasonably priced.
Oficina do Duque
I found this cozy little restaurant on Yelp and decided to check it out. The service was great and the food was even better. I ordered lamb, which I never do since I’m not really a fan, but people had raved about it online so I figured it was worth a shot. It came with this mint sorbet on top and was just sooooo good. Such an unexpected, but delicious combination.
This place was actually recommended by the walking tour guide. I sat inside and he helped me order from the daily menu (always handwritten and apparently the best deal). In addition to a full lunch, my meal also came with some tea, which if you know anything about me, you know I appreciate a nice cup of tea, especially if it’s included. It’s right by some of the more touristy sights, but the food was good and service was efficient and friendly.
After a packed morning seeing all of Sintra’s main attractions, I stopped here for lunch as recommended by one of my friends. For starters, the service was fantastic. So friendly and helpful (and nonjudgmental as I definitely downed that entire bottle of vinho verde by myself. Whatever. Vacation Mode.) The eclectic decor and inviting staff definitely made for a cozy atmosphere. Oh and the food was great too. It was a great place to check out right before I hopped on the train.
While I didn’t love Lisbon as much as Madrid, it was still a cool trip. I’d definitely love to go back in the summer some time. Check out some more pictures below (including some really dope street art that was up by my hostel!)