Having come all the way to Madrid, it didn’t seem right to just go back to Ireland. I scouted around for some good deals, and found an itinerary back to Ireland through Lisbon, Portugal! I had to jump at it! This was my first time in Portugal, and I was quite excited. Most of my flights within Europe have always been with Ryanair, but this time Iberia had a better deal! It was a short 1 hour flight from Madrid to Lisbon, and as we were landing in Lisbon, I could see that it’s not really a flat city. There are numerous hills dotting the city which looked beautiful as we came in for landing on Runway 21.
I landed quite late, so made my way directly to my hostel. I stayed at a very nice hostel called Be My Guest Lisboa near the metro station Arroios. The staff were very friendly and introduced me to the facilities even though it was midnight. And in the morning, I found a little surprise for me in the kitchen! I knew that breakfast was included in the deal, but a little personalisation put a smile on my face.
I had initially planned on a hiring a scooter and going around Lisbon. But once I started walking in the city, I decided against it. Walking was very pleasant in Lisbon. Also, getting a day ticket for the public transportation is quite cheap and very convenient too! The city has a very lively atmosphere, I thought. The warm weather must help surely! I walked by the river front for a while, and then boarded a train and went to Belém. As the train passed under the 25th April Bridge, it was a majestic sight, the sheer size of the bridge! The gardens of Belém are a lovely place to spend a lazy afternoon, and of course the pastries! Pastéis de Belém is a lovely place to visit!
Once back in Lisbon city, I found a restaurant with a great vegetarian buffet – Jardim Das Cerejas. They had a great spread including soup, salads and desserts. I could see that many of the dishes were inspired by Indian Cuisine. The lunch was delicious and filling!
After the heavy lunch, I felt quite lazy to go anywhere, but I convinced myself to visit the Vasco da Gama tower. I was really hoping forward to get a panoramic view of Lisbon from a good altitude. I got off at the metro station Oriente, and walked (very slowly!) to the tower.
And guess what, the tower’s viewing deck was closed for renovations! I don’t get frustrated easily, but now I was! Ah, c’est la vie. Anyway, the parks near the tower are very peaceful with an amazing view of the really long Vasco da Gama bridge! I was there until dark, reading away happily. I decided to walk as much as possible back to my hostel to make sure I used up all my lunch and make space for dinner. I wanted to try another restaurant for dinner. It had very good reviews, and it did not disappoint me at all! Paladar Zen is a cosy little vegetarian buffet restaurant near the metro station Campo Pequeno. I thought the lunch I had had was great, but the dinner was equally fabulous! (Yes, I am quite a foodie!)
I got back to the hostel at night to find some new people in my dorm room. They were a great bunch! Now my dorm room was truly international containing people from India, Brazil, Austria, Italy and Sweden! We had a great conversation and exchanged a lot of stories! This is one of the things that I really love about travelling – there is so much to learn and experience in this beautiful world! It was a beautiful end to my day.
Day 2 began with the same little breakfast (of course with me name on it!). I had a chat with the staff at the reception about visiting Sintra. The weather forecast wasn’t great, but I was told that Sintra is beautiful irrespective of the weather. So, I boarded the train to Sintra. I got off the train and boarded the bus that goes around Sintra in a loop. For 5 Euro, the ticket is a bargain, you could stop wherever you want and continue your journey from there until to reach the train station again completing your loop. The weather looked as we passed by the historical centre of Sintra. It was indeed a beautiful place!
My first stop was the Moorish palace (I learnt that Moors was a term to denote the Muslims from North Africa in the medieval ages). I found castle and all the historical buildings very interesting. They had a unique style of architecture from the mix of the cultures! The trek to Moorish Castle is a beautiful one, and once you reach the castle itself, you are treated to some beautiful views of Sintra down below and also the Atlantic ocean in the distance! And if you are interested in history, the whole of Sintra is, of course, is a very rich place!
From the Moorish Castle, it’s a 5 minute walk to Pena Palace. But I was trapped in the sudden tropical downpour! It was actually beautiful – lashing rain falling on green forests, something that I haven’t experienced for a while now! Pena palace is also an interesting building. Its yards are beautiful with great view points! But if I were given a choice to visit one out of Moorish castle and Pena palace, I think I would choose the Moorish castle, but that’s just me!
After that, it was back to Lisbon and walking around the city at night. It’s definitely a different feeling compared to daytime. I took a ferry and went to the other side, Alamada, hoping to get some good views of Lisbon and the 25th April bridge! The photo below was the best I could manage in capturing the beauty of Lisbon old town.
After my short stay on the other side of the river, I was back to Lisbon and there are some lovely views of the 25th April bridge from the parking lot of Cais do Sodre metro station! But out of everything I will remember Lisbon for its delicious pastries!