July 2017: The southern half of Portugal.
We arrived in Lisbon to the spectacle of the Gare do Oriente. Impressive huh!
Lisbon is where I think I’ll split the pack. Whilst I found Lisbon a visually amazing and interesting city, I didn’t like the feel of it so much. It’s a big city with, in my opinion, three distinct areas – the water side, the tree lined business and chic cafe area, and the old historic city with its narrow streets. I completely got 1 and 2, but 3 just didn’t do it for me! It’s a controversial view I know, but hey, this is my blog!
Despite my sense of the place, Lisbon made for a great walking experience. So here are the amazing visuals!
The streets of Lisbon are renowned for graffiti art. Here’s just a small sample, but believe me it is everywhere and, in the most part, painted or sprayed by some pretty talented artists.
And if you’re an artist you need the tools of the trade. Spray paint galore!
Don’t spend all your time looking at the walls though. Look up and out for some architectural treats.
Make sure to take the riverside route and walk to Belem
If walking isn’t your thing, or if you just want to be a passenger for a change, there’s the famous route 28 tram. A fun way to see the city if you can get on. And if you’re lucky enough to somehow squeeze on, don’t expect a seat. Unless you’ve accidentally get on just before the end of the line – but who would do that, right!!
Enjoy the food, and by that we mostly mean the ice cream, but check out the crab burger!
And take a moment to notice the small things
Breathe in the magnificent day and night time views….cheers!
And smell the roses along the way – somehow nature always manages to squeeze itself in.
A now for the finale! It’s never the same without the occasional meeting with a dear friend.
And so it was that we left Lisbon. But we didn’t go far. One of the great things about this area is the abundance, and close proximately, of idyllic towns. We took day trips to Sesimbra, Sintra and to Cascais to visit Chiang Mai friends, Kimma and Eric. In fact, we loved it so much in Cascais that we decided to spend a week or so there. Being only a short 30 minute train ride away made popping back to Lisbon, to get our city fix, easy.
Sesimbra is a cute little fishing town right on the coast. It’s just a little bit too touristy for me but worth the day trip. Like much of Portugal money is being spent here on renovating the old buildings, so I imagine tourism will increase. Sometimes that’s a little double edged!
Sintra made Sesimbra look like a deserted island. It was jam packed with tourists but that’s really to be expected during high season. Also Sintra is a ‘chocolate box’ delightful town.
There’s a lot to see within a relatively small area so it’s totally walkable. However, having said that, we did invest in a day pass for the local bus (not to be confused with the hop on, hop off tour bus). It was worth it just for the trip, on a very hot day, up the steep hill to the castle – Castelo dos Mouros.
We walked back down from the castle through some rambling lanes to continue the sightseeing and for a long overdue drink, and for Ol to snooze.
I loved Cascais – from almost the moment we arrived at the station at the start of our day trip there, to when we finally left having spent an extended 10 day stay there. It’s another small coastal town, but not too small. A little touristy in the centre but with heaps of less touristy, more local and ex-pat areas too. There seemed to be a few local events and the walking/cycling was great. Even if the rental bikes had no gears. Oh, and there was ice cream….of course.
Twice a week there is an absolutely fabulous market. It’s local and fresh and good value. What you can’t buy there just isn’t worth bothering with. Interacting with the locals, even if you don’t speak the language or not, is great fun especially with the ladies who prepare the fresh fish for you.
There is so much more…..architecture, crafts, nature, humour, the ocean, beach and the casino in Estoril! We spent a whole 5 euros on the 2c slot machines – how very rock and roll!
Before we knew it it was time to move on. A half day’s travel and three train journeys later we reached the Algarve and the picturesque town of Tavira.
If you’re looking for cute and quaint and brimming with old charm then Tavira is for you.
If you love old windows, doors and tiles then Tavira is for you
And if you’re looking for somewhere to unwind, eat well and absorb the local atmosphere then Tavira is for you.
There is a central square, which hosted a surprising number of very creative local events during our stay.