Life has been more than a little hectic in central Ohio. Between the dog’s weekly (except one) vet visits since coming home in February, our crazy travel schedules (4 out of the last 5 weekends plus the husband’s weekly travel), getting used to two new jobs in two different cities, and the other parts of life that seem to rear their ugly heads at just the wrong times, I’ve not had much time to do anything but work.
One of the few trips outside the UK that the husband and I took was to Portugal for a weekend to celebrate my (belated) birthday. I hesitate to write about how much I loved it because then others will discover the amazing secret that is Lisbon, but chances are I won’t get back there anytime soon, so here goes. I started to include all of the amazing food that we ate while in Lisbon, but the post became massive, so I’ve decided to do a Lisbon post, and a Lisbon food post. It was just that good. Warning: be prepared for lots of photos.
Random Square in Lisbon. Even the streets are beautiful.
We didn’t rent a car in Lisbon, and I wouldn’t if you are planning a trip. The public transit system is pretty good, and what it doesn’t cover (Sintra) you can get to via Uber. We took an Uber to our hotel after a late arrival in Lisbon. Our hotel, The Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa, is located in the tallest building in Lisbon, so we headed to the rooftop bar/restaurant for a quick bite and beautiful views of the city before heading to bed.
View over Lisbon from our hotel room
Saturday morning, we woke up
bright and early late and grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel before heading out to explore the city. We started the morning off at Torre de Belém (Tower of Bethlehem), a UNESCO world heritage site. It was built in the early 16th century after being commissioned by King John II of Portugal to be a part of the defense system of the Tagus river, as well as to serve as a ceremonial gateway into Lisbon. History aside, the tower is beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
The husband and I at the Torre de Belém
The tower sits in the Tagus River, as you can see
View looking West from the tower
I’m not a huge meal eater, and eat more like a toddler, snacking my way through the day. Given that it had been roughly 2 hours since our last meal, I was starving after our tower visit. We were very close to one of the pastelarias that sells the famous Portuguese pastel de nata, so we grabbed a few before heading to our next stop (more on the deliciousness that is the pastel de nata later).
Enjoying my delicious snack
After enjoying the pastéis de nata in a park across the street from the pastelaria, we headed to Mosterio dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastary) to explore a little more of Portugal’s history. I was super excited to see it because, well, it’s another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the hubs was excited because, as I learned on this trip, he has a secret love for Vasco da Gama, who just so happens to be buried in the monastery. We skipped the museum portion of the site and opted to marvel at the beautiful architecture and enjoy a little sunshine instead.
The husband and his buddy, Vasco da Gama, per his request(am I the only one that finds this a touch creepy?)
Could the skies be any more blue? #nofilter
Outside of the Mosterio dos Jerónimos, the courtyard was much more impressive
After an hour or so, it was time for lunch, so we began meandering through the streets towards our pre-lunch-snack spot. Wandering through the streets and taking in the different colors of ceramic tiles on the buildings was one of my favorite parts of our trip. Each building seemed to be different, and prettier, than the last. The bright, slightly worn colors of the buildings reminded me a bit of San Juan’s streets, but prettier. After a snack at the Mercado de Ribera, we headed to Bon Jardim for lunch.
Don’t you just feel like you’re in a painting?
Think people would think I was weird if I covered my current house in these tiles?
With full stomachs, we continued to meander through the streets, making our way over to my favorite stop of our trip, the Castelo de São Jorge. The site is an old Moorish castle, located on a hilltop overlooking the centre of Lisbon and the Tagus river. It was a citadel used in the medieval times in Portugal, and is now a major tourist attraction for the city. The first fortifications were built on the site in 48 BC, and were rebuilt in the 10th century by Muslim Berber forces. The castle was dedicated to St. George in the 14th century, and a royal palace was built on the site in the 15th century. It was the setting for the reception of Vasco da Gama by King Manuel I of Portugal after da Gama returned from discovering a maritime route to India in 1498.
The Castle Ruins
View of Lisbon from the Castle
You’d never know that it was pouring 5 minutes before this
The views of the city and river from the castle are gorgeous. The site is mostly ruins, which allows you to walk around the enjoying both the architecture and the views. While we were there, the Wine With a View wine cart was selling Vinho Verde, my favorite wine, in unbreakable keepsake wine glasses. I highly recommend getting yourself a glass if you go- it’s still the best Vinho Verde I’ve had (the beautiful setting may have made the wine taste better than it actually was, but I promise, it’s still good).
Views from the castle looking East
By this time, it was nearing dusk (I know, we managed a lot in one day, right?) so we meandered through more streets in the Alfama neighborhood surrounding the castle, and hopped on the 28 Tram towards dinner.