We flew TAP Portugal from Austin to Lisbon via JFK. Total trip time 15 hours plus 1 hour at customs in Lisbon, and a 45 minute subway to our hostel. We stayed at This is Lisbon hostel which is located at the very top of a hill in Alfama, the old town. Not knowing there was an elevator to get to the top we climbed thousands of stairs and through run down cobblestone streets en route to find the hostel.
I chose the hostel for it’s great views of the city and it didn’t prove me wrong. We were on the peak overlooking a sea of red tile roofs and an old church.We checked in then headed out to stroll the town. No one had warned us that all of Lisbon proper is hills and most of the streets are cobblestone. Note to self that supportive sneakers are needed next time around.
We walked to Time Out Market, and indoor high end food market that features up and coming Portuguese chefs. We had the Sea bass tartar from Tartar-ia that was served with an apple and beet puree, as well as a prosciutto sandwich and goat brie cheese plate from XX. A glass of nice wine was 3.5€.
We then walked around Baixa Chiado which is full of shops. We stopped into a church and saw a service. We walked towards Barrio Alto, stumbling onto “Pink street” on the way (literally a street painted pink) and well as Texas Bar. We went into Cheers bar (Cheers like the show) and ended up staying and chatting with the South African bartender for a while.
Searching for am authentic restaurant we were lucky to find Taberna de Saudade. It was small and cave-like with a 13€ for 3 appetizer special. The food was mediocre but the atmosphere was perfect for our first dinner in Europe. After the meal we bar hoped then spent over an hour trying to find our hostel. 2 taxi’s and a 45 minute walk later to found it in the maze of the Castello neighborhood.
Monday we took the free walking tour at 11am (runs everyday) meeting at the statue of Luis de Camoes.
Our tour guide Francesco was amazing and we ended up going to lunch with him after the tour and devoured whole grilled fish. We then continued the day with another tourist, from SF. We walked along the water to Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in the city that wasn’t destroyed after earthquake. Here the neighborhood is also on an incline with smaller winding roads.
We walked back through town, stopped at a pastry shop in the Altis Avendie Hotel for egg custards, and onwards to Miradoura lookout point by way of an incredibly long and steep street lined with graffiti art. There is a trolley that runs up and down the street but we opted for the scenic art walk. The lookout point had the best views of Lisbon we saw.
On the walk back to the hostel we grabbed $2 prosciutto sandwiches from As Bifanas Do Afonso, a local window shop in our neighborhood. Dinner we ate at O Piteo da Graca, a packed local spot recommended by our hostel. Grilled cuttlefish and clams cooked in garlic sauce were out highlights.
Tuesday morning we took the train to Sintra, about a 45 minute ride out of town. Sintra is a very cute town that has two famous palaces and a castle.We ate lunch at A Pendoa, a very local spot hidden in town that was recommended by out your guide from the previous day. Nick tried his first Spanish burger that was served with a fried egg and without a bun over a bed of rice and fries.
We then grabbed a tuk-tuk (€5 per person each way) versus the bus (€5 per person round trip) to get a better view of the scenery going up the mountain. The ride took about 15 minutes and was well worth the extra €10. We zoomed through a lush forest that has over 200 species of plants that were all brought in from overseas. We bought tickets for the Palace de Pena and its gardens.
As soon as we purchased tickets it started raining, and continued until we got back to the bottom of the mountain. We bought an umbrella from the gift shop that lasted 1 day before breaking. Seeing the Palace through the mist was an experience but we definitely missed out of seeing the vibrant yellow and orange castle with the lush green surroundings.
We took the tuk tuk back down and went to Fabrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa near the train station for Queijada pastry. Piriquita cafe in town has the best Travesseiro (cheese cakes) but we didn’t make it there.
We took the train back to Lisbon and began our walk towards LXFactory, stopping at Time Out for another prosciutto sandwich on the way. LXFactory is a 1-block artistic hipster street full of shops, restaurants and art galleries. The side walk is adorned with graffiti art. We had drinks at 1300 Taberna, including a glass of green wine. We also tried the local caldo verde soup, a potato soup with chorizo, which was fantastic. Recommend the Atlantida IPA.
An Uber to Mini Bar for dinner, which was recommended by my cousins who had been a few months prior. Mini Bar is one of chef Jose Avillez’s restaurants. While more high end in pricing it is still incredibly cheap as a US tourist. We had about 10 small plates but what really stood out were the cocktail bites and the tuna and steak tartar cones. I even ordered another steak tartar cone for my dessert.
After dinner we walked right up the road to Gingha bar, which was recommended by our waitress. Here we finally tried the famous Gingha liqueur, a cherry flavor. We chatted and drank in the street outside the hole in the wall bar with a young traveling couple from Wyoming, as well as some older Brits.