Portugal

4 Jul

Back in June 2014 my friend Tracy and I met up in Lisbon for a girls weekend while we were both working in Europe. Fast forward to September 2017 and now it was time to return to Portugal for another friends wedding in Estoril. Planning this trip was exciting because not only had an old friend of mine recently moved to Portugal from Brazil, but this would also double as a one year anniversary vacation.

TAP Portugal is not the most glamorous airline, but they have great direct flights from Newark (EWR) to Portugal. And by great I also mean reasonable because lets be honest no one wants to pay $1200 for a 5-6 hour flight to Europe. TAP also lets you bid on a business class seat. This was incredibly appealing to me because going to Europe on a red eye is miserable, but coming home and gaining 6 hours of time is more tolerable. Check out their bidding rules. Relaxing before the excitement!

We flew into Lisbon the day after US Labor Day 2017 and stayed (once again) at the Sheraton Lisboa. My husband was not interested in doing anything but sleeping and relaxing, so I went with my parents, who were also in town for the wedding, to Belem Tower.

Ah the line! We took an Uber since it was the three of us, it was hot and we didn’t want to spend the extra time taking public transit. There was still a long line to get in as we did not buy tickets in advance, but it was totally worth it. There were waves crashing up on us from the changing tide which kept us cool! and the UNESCO Heritage site did not disappoint. Just down the way there is a monument called Padrao dos Descobrimentos which commemorates Portugal’s explorers.

We did not pay to go into the monument, instead we took an Uber back to the hotel pool to relax before dinner with family and friends. Dinner was at 100 Maneiras in Bario Alto. It was recommended to us by friends and while it did not disappoint, my father and husband were not exactly singing its praises.  It is a tasting menu with potential for wine pairings, and while reasonable compared to other Michelin guide restaurants, there were some unusual items and my dad was not a fan. Otherwise, the rest of us loved it regardless!

The next day we went to the Gulbenkian museum, which was fascinating and huge! We mostly went to see the founders collection which has pieces dating back ~5000 years. They have exhibitions there as well, but we are not really modern art fans and didn’t really care to pay the extra money to see the current exhibit. Thanks to Yelp and FourSquare we stumbled across an amazing restaurant close by called Laurentina O Rei do Bacalhau. Bacalhau is cod fish which is the most popular fish in Portugal , although strangely enough most of the cod actually comes from the Nordics, but its prepared a number of different ways. We definitely ate too much, but our waiter and the food were amazing. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Pingo Doce, a local grocery store. We like to pick up some wine and waters at the grocery store rather than pay 7Euro for an extra bottle at the bar (which my husband def did btw!). For dinner we went to a traditional Fado show at O Faia (again) in the Bario Alto district. The octopus was outstanding, and while we couldn’t understand what the Fado singers where singing about, their voices and the experience were well worth it.

Since we had really liked Yellow Cab Tours 3 years prior, we decided to go with a private tour to Sintra, Cabo da Roca, and Caiscais, which ended with them dropping us off at the Palacio Estoril Hotel for the wedding weekend. We had lunch a great seafood restaurant called Nortada. Some highlights from Sintra:

After the wedding, we rented a car and headed north to the Douro valley for a relaxing wine and port vacation! Driving in Portugal (aka. not Lisbon) was not very complicated and was incredibly scenic. We stayed at the Wine House Hotel at Quinta Da Pacheca. This was probably one of the best places we have ever stayed. I mean how can you beat sleeping in a vineyard with a gourmet restaurant?! The hotel/vineyard provided bikes which we took to nearby five star Five Senses resort and back again. We took the tour of the Quinta da Pacheca vineyard as well as a tasting at another nearby vineyard, Quinta do Tedo.

The wine house hotel restaurant

For dinner, we went to Rui Paula’s DOC which was one of the best tasting menus we have ever had. Rui Paula has a sister restaurant, DOP, in Porto, but we did not attempt to go there.

We ended our northern Portugese adventure in Porto. Due to having the rental car we decided to stay at the Sheraton Porto, which is in a more residential location not really close to the center, but has parking. We took an Uber from the hotel to a free City Lovers Tour of Porto which started in the center of Porto at Praca da Liberdade. This tour was well worth it and all we had to do was tip the tour guide at the end. It stopped at the following historic sites, train station, the Cathedral, and the monument Torre dos Clerigos.

For dinner, we went to our last fancy restaurant of the trip at The Yeatman two star Michelin restaurant which is in the Yeatman hotel. The view from this hotel and restaurant is spectacular overlooking Porto. Even if you don’t want to spend the money to eat here, I would highly recommend coming for a drink and the view.

For our last days in Portugal, we stayed at an Airbnb in Lisbon, right on one of the worlds most photographed streets in a 1 bed loft in the Chiado area of Lisbon. Although it was a huge pain to lug our suitcases up the stairs, and there was a ton of noise at night from the bar below, it was totally worth it to be right in the center of Lisbon for our last couple days.

We were able to meet up with a friend who had recently moved from Brazil who took us to a great trendy bar called Park, which is literally at the very top of what seems like a regular parking garage. I honestly don’t know if we could find it again if we tried, but the sunset view over Lisbon was fantastic as well as the views from Pharmacia which is across from Miradouro de Santa Catarina.

Our very last day in Lisbon was spent on a food tour called Lisbon’s Best Flavors booked through Airbnb experiences. Ruthy and her husband were our tour guide and took us to fabulous small and unique restaurants and bars in Alfama. It was a great way to end our trip and we were sad that our foodie vacation had come to an end.

When we go back to Portugal some day I would love to do the Algarve region as well as the Azores Islands. These are two places we could not fit into our 2 week trip.

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One Response to “Portugal”

  1. Nadine Genesius July 4, 2018 at 5:18 PM #

    Enjoyed the blog…wonderful to reminisce, great pics too!!!! although I remember James being not too keen on the Pigeon as well…..We loved TAP and bid on business both ways and got it! I tried to leave a comment but I don’t think it went through….

    Love, Mom

    >

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