Since moving to the UK, our traditions and habits have changed quite a bit. We spell words differently and spend less time with family. Our holidays are spent experiencing new things rather than returning home. Last month we went to Portugal for Easter, and I realized it’s been a few years now since we had a “real” Easter with family. While I miss helping set up Easter egg hunts and other traditions, it’s also great being able to travel a lot more than we could when we lived in the US. Speaking of travelling, I can now say I’ve been to 10 different countries! Portugal was lucky number 10, and easily a favorite out of all the places I’ve been to. I’ve been desperate to go there ever since I interned for the Portuguese Historical Center in San Diego while I was in college, and I’m glad to say I finally made it. We spent the first part of our trip in Lisbon, and while we were there we had a chance to see Sintra and Belém as well. Then we rented a car and drove down to Lagos. We saw so many beautiful places that I couldn’t resist making this a super long post about all the things we did. (Brownie points for those of you who stick it out to the end.) 😉
We stayed near Olaias metro stop, just a few minutes outside the city centre. On our first day, we took the metro downtown to Baixa-Chiado and wandered through the streets getting a feel of the city.
I quickly fell in love with Lisbon’s signature tile covered buildings.
Praça da Figueira
It didn’t take us long to find Bertrand Bookstore, and there was a book sale out front which I was admittedly excited about.I was really tempted to by 1 or 15 of these vintage kids books!From there we headed toward the Santa Justa Lift, but first we had to stop for coffee and some tasty pastéis de nata. (I would like to title the below collection of photos: What Happiness Tastes Like – by Clarissa.)
We didn’t feel like waiting in a queue to go to the top of the Lift, but it looked impressive from the streets below.
After snapping a few photos, we headed up the hill to Castelo de S. Jorge. We spent the better part of the afternoon at the castle admiring the view over the city.
We left the castle around dinner time, and worked our way towards the river to Praça do Comércio and Cais das Colunas.
On Easter Sunday we took the train to Sintra. It was more touristy than I imagined, and there were tons of tuk tuk taxis and buses waiting at the station to pick up tourists. We had no trouble getting around by foot though. Our first stop was the Quinta da Regaleira estate.
The palace was lovely, but we were really there to explore the gardens that feature monuments, waterfalls, and a well that is really more like an underground tower.
At the bottom, the well connects to caves and tunnels that kind of freaked me out. I’m slightly claustrophobic, so I’m not really sure why the people of Quinta da Regaleira wanted spooky murder tunnels in the middle of their lovely gardens, but I guess they would be a great place to play hide-and-seek. So there’s that.
Our next destination was the opposite of dark and spooky.
The Palace of Pena is bright and colorful, and we both said “It feels like we’re at Disneyland” when we walked through the entrance.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that wanted to steal everything in this kitchen. Andrew says I’m weird, but look at it! Ok, back to the actual palace I guess…We also went to Castelo dos Mouros where Andrew got to bump his head on every doorway. Authentic experiences such as these are what it’s all about people. Learn our ways.
We went on a food tour the third day in Lisbon. The tour took us through downtown Mouraria, and we got to taste Portuguese olive oil, cured meats, and most importantly: codfish.Fun fact: This dried codfish ↑ has to be re-hydrated by soaking in water for a few days before it can be cooked.
Ah cured ham. How do these disgusting looking pieces of meat turn into something yummy you might ask. Well… I don’t want to think about it.
The streets of Mouraria are full of history, and where Fado music was born. There is such a strong sense of community there, and the locals all seemed to know everyone.
We visited Belém on our last day in Lisbon.
The monastery there is famous for coming up with the first recipe for pastéis, and we had to try the original version of these tasty treats at Pastéis de Belem.Sooooo good!
We rented a car and drove a few hours down to Lagos in the Algarve for the second half of our holiday. We were hoping to spend most of our time at the beach and exploring the cliffs, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best. It was super windy, and the water was unusually choppy so we couldn’t swim next to the cliffs.The coast is absolutely stunning, so we still enjoyed exploring the cliffs from land.
Lagos itself was a lot of fun too. It’s a really cute town, and attracts holiday goers of all ages from all over Europe. It has the laid-back feel of a beach town that reminded me of life in San Diego.
We spent 4 days in Lagos, and didn’t run out of things to do or places to eat! We tried the highly recommended Nah Nah Bah burger, and side note: the owner’s wife is an American photographer. I totally creeped on a conversation she was having, and did some online stalking research. So if any of you are planning a destination wedding in the Algarve and need a photographer, I would like credit for solving your probs. Mk?
I want to go back.