If you’re looking for a quick escape, Portugal is your low-budget destination. Our route was as follows London-Lisbon-Sintra-Lisbon-Porto-Lisbon-London and for a five nights, eating out and about, double coffees with each fantastic meal we had and all the tasty creamy Pastéis de Nata we nibbled on, we roughly spent five hundred pounds (each).
I laughed my ass off when a friend of mine informed me that he bought a pocket dictionary, because Portuguese hardly speak any English. I was like: it’s so outdated. But the first night at a cosy canteen like restaurant, I was first to point fingers at Bacalhau and ask for two portions, because nothing else made sense. The old women, who I presume is an owner, a cook and a waiter in that place, shook her head and encouraged me to speak. It did sound rather retarded but we got what we wanted and it was beautiful. In the end I proclaimed: so this is how cod should taste like.
Sintra, a small town within Lisbon, was a challenge (at least for an office rat like me), but once we reached the top of the mountain all the ahhhs and oooohs were forgotten.
Trains to Sintra leaves every 30min, so no need to plan in advance, however do keep in mind that queues to get a ticket are rather long and expect to wait for 10-15min. Another useful tip, if you’re late to a train and do not have a ticket, do not bother to buy one, just jump on and you get one on the train for the same fare.
To cut the story short, here are some places to see in LISBON:
- Santa Justa Elevator (Rua do Ouro, 1150-060), open daily 7AM – 10PM. The queue is long and its 30min wait to get in, but the time we were there one of the lifts was out of order.
- Tram 28 to Alfama neighborhood. Once again, depends on the day and the time, but queue is possible. We did not wait and chose to walk, which was way better as we found this unique tile shop Cortico&Netos. Off-tourist place to get a souvenir for your loved ones. An all sorts of rubbish flea market Fleira dav Ladra (ampo de Santa Clara, São Vicente, 21 358 8596) is full on on Tuesdays and Saturdays. London hipsters would die for some stuff you can find there.
- Talking about hipsters another place to see is LX Factory, a street of designer shops, hype cafes, a bookstore located in old warehouse and overall atmosphere. Rua Rodrigues Faria 103, open daily 6- 4AM.
- A housemate of mine recommended to visit a PARK! café on the roof car park. We did not have time for that, but if you do, I heard it’s a rather cool place to chill and meet arty locals.
Skipping all the tourist stuff you also can find if you google top ten place to see in Lisbon I am jumping straight to PORTO:
The three things that stroke me were: mesmerizing views from Cais de Gaia, fresh sea food the area just off Porto closest to the sea and bucket night at a place by Dom Luis Bridge on Mondays (2 drinks for 5 silly Euros and Portuguese are generous people).
Being a total old school headmaster I only had a Boots camera with me, but I will open a Gallery soon and add some captured joy.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will have them answered.
- Majestic Café (Rua Santa Catarina 112, 4000-442) Mon- Sat 9.30AM -12AM
- Bolhao Market (Rua Fernandez Tomas) Mon- Fri 7AM-5PM
- Lello Book Store (Rua das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161) 10AM- 7.30PM
Vegetarians and vegans will have a hard time as according to a friend of my C.: Portuguese loves to eat. And they eat a lot of meat, fish, potatoes and pastry. During our six (I almost wrote sex, which would not be a total lie) days trip we stumbled on one organic food shop and it was in a Art Galleries district in Porto.