Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Portugal: Lisbon + the Algarve

I'm back from Portugal and Ireland. Two places that couldn't have been more opposite, but both amazing. I hadn't blogged about Portugal, so I thought I'd say something about the beautiful spots we visited. Lisbon was amazing. Full of textures everywhere. The tiles on the buildings and sidewalks. The old cobble stone streets. The fisherman. The cats and dogs walking through the small winding and bright alleyways. The city is worn but with a patina that can not be replicated.

The magic that occurs only when you travel happened for us in Lisbon. We met some great people and had amazing dinners, chatting with our new friends until the early hours. Cliches be damned it was absolutely unforgettable. 

In Lisbon, our friends recommended that we check out this hostel. I'm SO glad we did. It's called the Lisbon Living Lounge Hostel. For 9 Euros we had a private feast every night with wine, port and Portuguese food. I highly recommend it - it's like no other hostel you've ever been to! Private rooms and amazing amenities. 

Here's the other things we loved: 
  • We took the ferry from Lisbon across the river. It was sun down and chilly but beautiful. 
  • Also in Lisbon, we stopped by the original Ginjinha bar in Rossio. Fun spot to stop and try their famous sipping drink.
  • We also visited Sintra and it's castle (which was a bit of a schlep from the city) but an amazing mixture of Disney and old world influences. 
  • The Algarve coast was beautiful. A bit too touristy for us. (And it's the off season.) We stayed in Tavira, which was fine, just full of a lot of golfers. We enjoyed walking through the city and sitting in the cafes on the river. 
  • Sagres (where people believed was the end point of the world)
  • Salema is also an adorable town to grab a beer and sit on the beach. There seemed to be a few cute places to stay that were tucked away in the hills. 
  • We also spent an afternoon in Evora (about an hour away from Lisbon) which is a great city full of Roman aqueducts and a few other relics. 
  • The food and drink: 
    • Pasteis de nata - the famous Portuguese egg pastry 
    • Chicken Peri Peri is a fabulous dish and each place we went made it a different way 
    • The Port is great, but our favorite drink was the licor de amend amarga - among liqueur with a splash of lemon. It's made in the Algarve and a fun way to end a meal.
    • Almond Flan - heavenly.

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