Saturday, 29 December 2018

8 Things To See & Do In Lisbon, Portugal | Part 2

Hey everyone! I sure took my time but here I finally am sharing Part Two of my little Lisbon travel guide just before the end of the year! Oops, better late than never! Today's post will be all about four more things that are an absolute MUST to see and do if you ever get the chance to visit this wonderful capital city. I cannot recommend it enough, and I can't wait to go back someday! If you haven't read through Part One yet, you can find it here. I absolutely love reminiscing about my adventures abroad so I'm really looking forward to sharing this post with you guys! Enjoy :) 

Things to see and do in Lisbon Portugal

5) Alfama 

Alfama is the oldest part of the capital city of Portugal, and as you can imagine is filled with the cutest little historical streets that are narrow, steeped and have a rustic appeal to them! This area of Lisbon will be picturesque to those of you who are fans of architecture, history and culture as it is a location that incorporates all three! Along the little alleyways and cobbled streets, you will find houses and cute shops and small restaurants. There is something  interesting to look at everywhere! I am such a fan of old towns and really enjoy exploring them; wandering down passageways and taking photographs of all the pretty things I find is so fun! I really wish that we'd have had more time to explore Alfama as there is so much more to see that we didn't get to! There are historical heritage buildings, such as the Sao Jorge Castle, and also some very cool graffiti art what I've seen on vlogs. I am determined to go back to Lisbon some day and properly explore this area. 

Just a word for my fellow spoonies, or anyone who struggles with steep inclines... Alfama is located at the top of a hill basically, it runs along the tops of the city. So just to walk up there was extremely tiring and left me feeling very achy and drained. I would definitely recommend going up there in a taxi; alternatively you can ride up on the yellow trams that Lisbon is famous for! I don't have much more to say about Alfama, but I thought it was definitely worth a mention. Even though I didn't get to see a lot of it, I still got some pretty pictures from our little scroll. When we were in Alfama, my friend popped into a tiny pizza shop which was adorable and got himself a slice of pizza and some kind of traditional cookie, and he said they were delicious! We also talked to a very attractive tourist guide as we sat by a fountain and admired the sights... (all of them :p haha). That fountain had the weirdest horse head taps! They reminded me of the creepy horse from the Brothers Grim movie XD who else has seen it? Anyhow, here are some photos of Alfama! You'll see a pic below of some cans of food, and these are sardines! Did you know that Lisbon is famous for its sardines?! There are shops all over the city selling them, in all sorts of different flavours and such. I don't like fish, but it's still pretty cool to learn these things about new places! 

6) Sintra

Oh my goodness, visiting Sintra was honestly my favourite part of the whole holiday (other than the Eurovision Song Contest of course)! It is such a breathtakingly beautiful place, which is not technically in Lisbon but is featured in literally every Lisbon travel guide that I've come across because it's just too special to not mention! Sintra is located around an hour outside of Lisbon by train and the fare really wasn't expensive at all. It is a city, although it is found within the realms of Greater Lisbon and I really recommend that you visit it! We unfortunately couldn't go for the whole day, but I would suggest making a day trip of it because there's so much to see and do, and lots of exploring to be done. We arrived with only a few hours until most of the sights closed for the day and it was a challenge to fit everything in! We didn't visit all of the places I wanted to, so I have another excuse to go back someday :) 

Sintra is famous for its stunning castles and palaces & for all of its woodlands and gardens too! They are spread all over the city and many of them are on top of hills, so unless you're super fit and enjoy walking then I would suggest using the public transport available. For around 15 Euros, you can purchase a day ticket that will allow you to hop on and off a bus that travels to all of the main tourist attractions in Sintra. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of all the historical buildings there. The main attractions are the Sintra National Palace, the Castle of the Moors and the Pena National Palace. We went to the last two, although we didn't make it to the actual Pena Palace because we were exhausted by this point! The gardens of the Pena Palace are delightful though, filled with lots of little waterways and so many species of trees and flowers. There were lots of hidden historical buildings, many of which had a Moorish influence. The Moorish era refers to a time when the majority of Portugal and Spain were ruled by medieval Muslims, so the architecture resembles those of which we'd see today in the Middle East. It's really pretty! 

The Castelo dos Mouros, or the Castle of the Moors/Moorish Castle, is such an amazing place!! Honestly its like something out of Game of Thrones (as you can see in my first photo)! The castle is high on a hilltop and the views from its walls are just spectacular! I was in absolute awe of it all, and I didn't even make it to the topmost point so I can't even imagine how epic it must have been up there. Luckily, one of my friends hiked up there and very kindly took my camera with him so I could see the views of Pena Palace in the distance through the lens at least! Pena National Palace is the Iberian Peninsula's version of a fairytale castle. It looks so pretty, and its exterior walls are painted in yellows and reds. The grounds of the castle are just as awesome, with lots of information signs filled with history facts, and there's even a little museum building on site too. The gardens here are also gorgeous! Sintra is just so green and full of nature! Okay... so before I end up writing another five paragraphs on Sintra :D here are photos of the Moorish Castle instead, plus the gardens of the Pena National Palace (and a pic of the palace itself from atop the Moorish Castle)! 

Castelo dos Mouros Moorish Castle Sintra Portugal

Castelo dos Mouros Moorish Castle Sintra Portugal

Pena National Palace Sintra Lisbon Portugal

Castelo dos Mouros Moorish Castle Sintra Portugal

Pena National Palace Lisbon Portugal

Pena National Palace Lisbon Portugal

Pena National Palace Lisbon Portugal

Pena National Palace Lisbon Portugal

7) Eat at Time Out Market 

I'll try to keep these next two recommendations as short as possible because if I keep going the way I am, I could publish a small travel guide book XD Lisbon is well-known for its food and there's lots of it! There are restaurants everywhere, serving all sorts of cuisine and lots of traditional Portuguese dishes. Lisbon is famous for its seafood as it is a port and is on the River Tagus so there are fresh supplies coming in daily. I however don't like seafood and overall I am a very fussy eater, so I was lucky that this marvellous city also had several of the chain restaurants that we see all over Europe, such as the Hard Rock Café, and McDonalds for those quick meals when you've a long, tiring day of sight-seeing and just want to get back to your accommodation was soon as possible! I often feel annoying being a picky eater because I feel like I'm stopping my friends from being adventurous foodies, so when I was planning for our trip, I looked for a place where I could eat but my friends could also try new things! I discovered the Time Out Market through watching vlogs (YouTube was seriously so helpful for finding out about the best spots in Lisbon!), and it sounded just what I was looking for! 

The Time Out Market is a big food establishment that is set out somewhat like a traditional market, where there are stalls around the outside, only they are not stalls but various restaurants and bars and the whole centre of the market space is filled with different kinds of seating. There's also a random entertainment area in the middle of all the tables and chairs, where when we were there a local folk band was playing! There are 24 different restaurants at the Time Out Market, selling everything you could imagine so it's more than likely that you are going to find something that takes your fancy. I admit that I did struggle because of how fussy I am, but I found a steak meal I liked the sound of in the end! 

The food was nice and it was very cool that there was so much to choose from. It was a 'must do' on most tourist guides so I'm glad that I experienced it, but to be honest if you are anything like me when it comes to being anxious in crowded social situations, then prepare yourself to deal with that! It is really busy which made it tough for us to find seats all together. We had to wait around for a while until we spotted three empty seats at a long table with high stool chairs. It wasn't the best place to sit but by this point, we were super hungry and just wanted to tuck in. The restaurants give you this pager thing that flashes red when your food is ready to collect, which I thought was awesome! It means you can go and find a seat until your food is done. I think that if you're a foodie then the Time Out Market is the place for you! My friends & I finished off our visit to the market with a double cone of the 'best ice-cream in Lisbon!' from the Santini stall. 

8) Almada, and beyond! 

Across the other side of the River Tagus and the impressive 25 de Abril suspension bridge (which I think is another must see, because it looks so much like the Golden Gate bridge in North America!) is Lisbon's neighbouring city, Almada. Due to the high-demand for accommodation throughout Lisbon because of the influx of fans heading there from countries all over Europe for the Eurovision Song Contest, we struggled to find somewhere that suited our needs there. Instead we found a lovely Air BnB in Almada, and with the public transport to and from Lisbon being so great, it was an awesome decision in my opinion :) I mean sure, it did take longer to travel to the sight-seeing destinations but it was nice to have an apartment nestled right in with the residential areas because I feel like we got to see more interesting things that way and get a little bit of a feel for what it might be like actually living in Portugal. Plus, we also got to travel over to Lisbon via sort of a ferry bus which was a strange, albeit fun experience! 

Over in Almada, there is one main tourist attraction and that is the Cristo Rei Christ (or Christ the Redeemer) Christian monument, which be seen from parts of Lisbon including from the top of Belem Tower (check out my first post to read more about Belem!). Unfortunately we didn't get time to visit and see the statue up close, but we did get many glimpses of it travelling to and from our apartment to Lisbon; it looked lovely at night too as it's surrounded by lights. We got a pretty good look at it one day when we were exploring Almada in search of Lidl supermarket, and I would say that its definitely worth a visit. During this little mission to stock up on food  and bottles of water for our stay, we found some very cool graffiti art. 

Something that I've noticed around Europe (not that I've been to enough countries to compare this!) is that their graffiti is so much more creativity and flamboyant, and the local governments there seem to be a bit more lenient with their rules about it, unless they do paint over it like here in England and someone just fills up the space with more as soon as possible. Either way, the graffiti I have seen abroad is beautiful and is certainly works of art. In Portugal, there was an abundance of epic graffiti art, and Almada was full of it too! On our travels, we discovered a old, unused sports court, where nature had started to take over, and it was filled with some awesome graffiti! I'll include some photos below :) 

Graffiti Art Almada Lisbon Portugal

Graffiti Art Almada Lisbon Portugal

Lemon Tree Almada Portugal

I really didn't take many photographs in Almada and I wish I would have, however due to our short trip in Portugal, we spent most of our time in Lisbon or travelling back to our accommodation to rest and recuperate in between our adventuring. Other than our trip to find the supermarket, I made my friends go geocaching with me! I was determined on this holiday to find my first cache in another country, and I found four! If you don't know what geocaching is, it was really fun hobby where you use GPS (there's an app for smart phones!) to find 'hidden treasure' in the form of caches, which are usually small containers, dotted around by players all over the world. There could be some near your house that you walk or drive by everyday and don't even know they are there! Sometimes caches are filled with little trinkets and toys, but most of them are just there to be found, logged and hidden again for the next player to locate. 

We got to see a little more of Almada on one of my geocaching trips as there was one hidden just down the road from our apartment near the city museum. The surrounding streets were beautiful, most of them cobbled or very rustic looking, dotted here and there with little cafes and shops. The gardens of the residents were so pretty, with gorgeous flowers and fruit trees hanging over their walls onto the footpaths. I chose include a photograph of a lemon tree above because there were so many of them, literally everywhere you turned! I was fascinated with them, just ask my friends who had to constantly hear me going on about them, haha! There were lemons, oranges, limes, apricots and some fruits that looked as though they were the mixed variety, growing several different fruits on one tree! They looked so pretty in the sunlight. The one I photographed was literally in the garden under the sloping tiled roof running off from our terrace so I got to admire every morning.

It was a shame that we didn't get to take in more of this gorgeous little city, except for a few outings, like the trek we had to make to get to the only McDonald's around! We did get to see a lot wildflowers and butterflies along the way so that satisfied the nature nerd in me :) I know that there's a shopping centre in Almada, and the docks area is where you can see a historical naval ship called the Dom Fernando II e Gloria, which was apparently the last of Portugal's sailing warships to be built back towards the end of the 1800's. I got to see this as we drove by on a tram at least! 

Chicken Rooster Portugal Mascot

This is the last photo I'm going to share for today! I know there's a lot but a picture speak 1000 words, as they say and I have a lot to tell about my trip to Portugal, haha :D This is one of the cute ornaments displayed in our Air BnB apartment in Almada. How gorgeous is this chicken!? It's so beautiful and I love the elaborated paintwork! These chickens are actually a mascot of Portugal and you can find them EVERYWHERE! I couldn't resist buying one for my mom and myself :) Even thought it's apparently an unofficial symbol of the country, there are tourist shops full of chicken themed gifts... I brought home chicken logo keyrings for my family too! I found out when I got home that these chickens are known as the Barcelos Rooster/Cockerel and they have a very interesting origin story based on a legend, you can read about it here.  

There was lots of cool and kitsch décor around the apartment that we stayed in in Almada, it was such a nice little place! It was two bedroomed, including a room with a double bed and a room with twin beds, a tiny but cosy living room/dining area/kitchen space, and a fairly big terrace. If anyone's interested in me writing a post about my experience of staying in Air BnB accommodation for the first time, let me know :) I'm going to end my post here now before I write more! I'm struggling to stop XD I am relishing in all of the memories that writing this post is bringing to mind and I just want to tell anyone who will listen all about my time in Portugal. I know this was a super long post so thankyou so much if you took the time to read it all. I hope it was a good read :) Enjoy the rest of New Years weekend guys! 

Thankyou for reading!

Have you ever been to Portugal? 

Are you planning to travel anywhere in 2019? 
I'd love to hear all about it!

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