My days in Portugal just coudn’t fit in one post, so I dedicated one post to food, and this post will be about the places that I’ve seen, and there were many
Porto or Oporto was love at first sight. I went there to visit my Portuguese friend who I had lived with earlier, and I spent Christmas with her and her family. She doesn’t live too far away from the centre, so when she was at work, I would wander around the streets of Porto, and for me that’s the best way to feel the city, and not just see it.
From seeing the beautiful old town with Clerigos Tower, Lello bookstore, and colourful narrow streets, to walking down the Ribeira along the river Douro and Gaia across the river with all the Port wine producers, but also relaxing on the sandy beaches of Matosinhos, I would say Porto has got it all.
One of the new trends in Portugal, both in Porto and in Lisbon, is the roof terrace, mostly on top of some hotels. And there is a nice on in Porto where I went with my friend’s sister, and it was definitively on of the highlights of my Porto visit.
After spending a week in Porto, I decided to go to the capital. I used Bla Bla car to get there, and I was dropped off at Praça do Comércio, since my hostel was nearby, and my first impression of the city wasn’t the best. I just saw bunch of buses and taxis crossing the main square, and it just felt wrong. But as days passed by, I discovered some really nice places there. After exploring the Alfama district, seeing the flea market, getting to the best viewpoints in the daylight or at night, going out in Bairro Alto, my first impressions of Lisbon changed completely.
Lisbon was my first solo trip, and I was excited, but also had my doubts about who I was going to meet, and if I would like the experience of backpacking and staying at hostels. Well, the title says it all. I fell in love with Portugal, Lisbon and this kind of travelling. Using Couchsurfing I got to know some really cool people, who made me feel like Lisbon was my city. Not only did they take me to some nice viewpoints, and cool bars, they also introduced me to their friends, and I actually ended up playing Utimate frisbee at Carcavelos beach at 9 o’clock in the evening. For me, that was better than a visit to any museum or art gallery. People make your travel experience memorable.
During my stay in Lisbon, everyone was suggesting to visit Sintra and Cascais, so I decides to do a little bit of Couchsurfing, and I found a host who lived in a village near Sintra, and had a few days off, so he could show me around. As I was talking to him, I realised that Sintra was definitively not a one day visit, as there were too many things to see.
On the first day I saw the National Palace of Pena, and even though the weather wasn’t the best that day, it was really nice to be inside a colourful palace which made my feel like I was in some of the Disney cartoons.
The next day I diced to go to the Moors Castle, or Castelo dos Mouros, which was located on another hill close to town of Sintra. I really enjoyed just walking uphill, getting lost in the green gardens with a lot of small rivers, and wild flowers. And as the weather improved, the views from the top of the castle were simply beautiful.
Last but not least, Quinta de Regaleira. Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed by the villa, which looked nice on the outside, but eclectic inside. And when I say eclectic, I don’t refer to a fusion of different styles, I would just say a big mess of everything. However, the park with grotto, fountains, underground tunnels and caves made the visit worthwhile.
All in all, Sintra is a really touristy place, but I can definitively understand why. It is kind of mystical, with all the hills surrounding the town and the peculiar gardens, and I could understand why a lot of artists found their inspiration here. Even I felt like I was Alice who suddenly found herself in the middle of Wonderland.
CABO DA ROCA
One of the ‘must see’ places is definitively Cabo da Roca, as it is the most western point of continental Europe. I would say that the whole coast is worth visiting, as you come across some really nice beaches, picturesque small towns, strangely shaped rocks and bays, like Boca do Inferno, and some perfect sunset spots.
After spending 17 days in Portugal, all I can say is: I can’t wait to go back there!