When the Portugese explorers left Belém to explore much of the new world, they had the same hardy and adventurous attitude that we Belfiores bring to each new country we visit. Whether facing incontinence or gastro-quake, we bring our unique brand of can’t-stop-us bravado to every site we visit. And in Portugal that meant everything from Quinta de Regaleiros to Pastéis de Nata. “Huh?” you say? We’re happy to educate. Press on…
After 8 days of mostly-cold and sometimes-rainy London, we were DELIGHTED to be in sunny, warm Portugal! Happily, back to shorts and t-shirts, but without the dripping sweat of Ghana or many of the other countries we’d visited… no humidity! And as an added bonus.. our Airbnb was on the top floor of the apartment building with a terrace and amazing views.
We landed in Portugal on April 25 … not only my birthday but also the national holiday known as “Dia da Liberdade,” commemorating the country’s Carnation Revolution of 1974. We walked the streets with big crowds of people who were celebrating the holiday.. we got drinks at the top of a hill looking over the beautiful city and St. Jorge’s castle in the background.. and we ate amazing food.
Built on seven hills, Lisbon has gorgeous views wherever you go. This fit well with our desire to try to adopt a bit of the “European Café lifestyle”, slowing ourselves down and spending time together reading, playing games and just enjoying the scenery.
We hit local cafés, sipping café con leches and eating bolos… and forcing our kids to continue their homeschooling! Yes, math happens on days like this! And so does history– we took our kids to the “story of Lisboa” museum where they learned about Moors, navigators, and the earthquake of 1755.
Of course, we also climbed the hill for a bit of a history lesson at St. Jorge’s castle, where we were surprised (!) to find a “Wine With a View” cart, beckoning us to enjoy a porto as we strolled the grounds (complete with “rubberized” unbreakable wine glasses!). Since Mom and Dad weren’t homeschooling, we said “when in Lisbon…”
Sintra: FOUR Palaces. We had time for two.
The area all around Lisbon has a ton of interesting things to see. One day we hopped a train to Sintra, a picturesque town that hosts a number of World Heritage sites… and more palaces than we could fit in the 6 hours we were there (after sleeping a little late).
We visited Quinta de Regaleiros, a palace and garden constructed by an eccentric, wealthy merchant in the late 1800s. This dude had it going on, he was into alchemy and mysteries… and as a result invested in underground tunnels (!), a giant well, a tower with his laboratory/think-tank… coolness!
After that we visited the Palácio Nacional da Pena, another.. um.. interesting building, constructed in the mid 1800s for the Portugese royalty.. and used right up to the time the King and his son were shot dead in the giant square in Lisbon. But that’s another story…
Sadly, we did NOT make it to Sintra’s two OTHER famous palaces… the Moorish Castle and the National Palace. Oh well. Next time!
The Sights… and Tastes… of Lisbon
From the tasty Pasteis de Belem (YUM! great recommendation, Carlos!) to the gorgeous Jerónimos Monastery… Lisbon delighted our senses. 😊 We walked its charming neighborhoods, learned its history and enjoyed the spectacular weather.
At the end, we were sad to say goodbye to our apartment and drive… SOUTH. But our new friends Simon and Louise from Semester-at-Sea (oh.. and the beach) beckoned… so off we went. Thanks, Lisbon, for a lovely time!