Portugal Rocks! And Here’s The Story….

Pena Palace Portugal

Pena Palace, Sintra Portugal

Once  Upon  A  time....In a Far Away Place, We visited A Majestic Palace.
Pena Palace, In Sintra Portugal.
Mystical..  Cold..  Foggy..  Magical..

Affordable..

Now that we've created the Mood for the journey, let’s start with the Landing.......
We flew Into Lisbon. Here is what you'll see, and This Is Just A Small Part Of It.

Lisbon Portugal

The Journey Starts At The Airport. 

We needed a sim card for our phone. It was quick and easy!
The Vodafone kiosk was located in the arrival hall, at the time of this writing, it is open 8am to 10pm. $14.99 Euro/15 days/15GB.
There is a small charge for Portugal calls, but for USA it was Google Hangouts, which is free.  
Google Maps, as always, was our best friend! Coverage was great!
      ......Onward, to the Airbnb.

We decided not to get a rental car, until we left Lisbon, so we used a door-to-door service called 100 Rumos.

You can reserve the ride online, the cost was 6 Euros. Yep! 6 Euros.
They even pick you up right by the Vodafone kiosk.
Here is the link: 100Rumos​
We were advised NOT to drive around Lisbon, if all possible. 
Why?

See The Picture Below.
Parallel Parking Skills are a must and you better get in that space fast. 
Parking spaces are often reserved for residents of these apartments, and you will see signs indicating this. 
 If you do use a car, call your host or hotel ahead for the closest public parking~Just not that easy to find!

Lisbon, Portugal

Where Will You Stay In Lisbon?

We are enjoying using Airbnb’s and did so, part of the trip, gets you into the neighborhoods - Instant Stimulation! 
Our Airbnb was in Bairro Alto.

TIP:  Here are the popular neighborhoods: Bairro Alto, Alfama, Chiado, Belem and Baixa and here is an excellent description of each from Trip Advisor: NEIGHBORHOODS

Wherever you stay, it is easy to get around bus, tram or UBER–Our Favorite!

TIP:  That said, we also check out our points through Chase Sapphire Cards and SPG American Express. Neither one is an affiliate, we just LOVE the benefits!
We had enough points built up for Two nights at Crowne Plaza in Porto and Two nights at Hotel Rural Quinto do Silval, a 14-room wine hotel in the Duro Valley.
     See Our Lisbon Airbnb Below.........

Keep in mind these apartments are cozy and quaint, BUT very old, small and use manual gas heat for washing AND heating the rooms.

TIP:  You might ALSO ask what level you are on. (Airbnb doesn't always add that info up front) Top floors are best-noise wise, unless you have a lot of luggage!

We did not get the top floor this time and I swear the upstair neighbors were dropping MARBLES on the floor all night, must be a Hell of Game!   Uggh.... 
I mean in these old apartments, even walking can be loud!  TIP: Bring Ear Plugs

Bairro Alto area has wonderful restaurants and within walking distance to our apartment.
This neighborhood is popular for it bars and has a very active late-night crowd.
At the end of the post, I'll give have a great list of restaurants and the very best PASTRY we tasted- it will surprise you!


Upack Your Walking Shoes-Don't Wait-NOW!
Stone, More Stone,     Steps, More Steps,     Hills, More Hills,
 
Not complaining, just saying................oh yeah, slippery when wet too! 

side walks Portugal
sidewalks portugal
Lisbon, Portugal

Let’s Eat- Wine Awaits, Or Do You Prefer GIN?

You will see A LOT of wine, but it's not the only favorite these days, if you’re a Gin drinker, master GIN makers have emerged in Portugal and created award winning Gin!
Try Big Boss or Sharish.

Do-in the Jet Lag Boogie……….

we walked about two blocks from our Airbnb to a neighborhood restaurant called Pety dejeune.  The fresh Prawn’s & Pasta may look ordinary, but there was a Oh-So-Tasty sweet chili sauce that made my blonde eye brows well up with sweat.  The Salmon Crepe, opened up with just a slight touch and filled with a light creamy white sauce, greens, onions and salmon. A Perfect First Lunch Dinner In Lisbon! 

prawnpasta

Above, is a colorful playground out in front of the restaurants, -And when is the last time you saw a cigarette machine in the dining area of your favorite restaurant???

Next Morning- Cycle Tour was cancelled due to the tour guide getting in an accident :(, Plan B went immediately into effect! Free Walking Tour!
It was great!
Of course you will be expected to tip, but So Worth It.
You can Schedule one with SANDEMAN European tours before your trip OR if you have a change of plans, just head down at the same time/location, and you will see another FREE walking tour called CHILL OUT
This is the one we took, and here is the LINK. CHILL Here is the LINK for SANDEMAN. Just head to these sites for more info.

Secret Street Art- Okay, Maybe It’s Not All On the Street

We booked a Street Art tour through the Airbnb site, and it was our favorite Lisbon tour! Hope you enjoy the pictures below and the "art" tram came by during our tour.
I like the first one, Grandma isn't into Selfie Sticks, scroll down to see the unique SECRET
"Park In Art"  parking garage.

Graffiti on the wall
Graffiti on the wall
Graffiti on the wall
Graffiti on the wall
Graffiti on the wall
Tram
Racoon on the wall

BELOW IS THE SECRET ART GALLERY in Chao do Loureiro Car Park. Each floor has stunning art work from different “known” artists in Lisbon and BONUS: The top floor has a bar, and OUTSTANDING views of lisbon. It is a bit hard to find, so please use this link which has an attached map. ART GARAGE
    ......You will find much more art, within the parking garage and throughout Lisbon!

parkingstreetart
street parking
street parking
Art Garage Lisbon Portugal

Next, Sintra, The Tour Was Better Than We Imagined!

Although we like to explore on our own, TOURS have a lot of advantages and one of those is "timing"!  We arrived at Pena Palace right before the crowds were forming and the tour guide knew right where to park-so we got right in-perfect!!

The tour was a small group tour, just 8 of us, and included Sintra and The Coastal Areas.
They picked us up at our Airbnb along with the other guests and away we went!
Our guide was the owner of the company, very cool!
He gave us "behind the scenes" gossip and tips on both of the palaces!  
 
First stop Pena Palace, as you can see in these photos, the FOG was very thick and would not go away.......
Oh well, it was still lovely! 

Pena Palace, Sintra Portugal
Pena Palace, Sintra Portugal
Pena Palace, Sintra Portugal

We also visited Quinta da Regaleira (below) in Sintra, Wow! Wow! Even more spectacular.
You can really get your GOTH on at this magnificant estate!
A fabulous display of Templars and Masonic symbols- a true architectural master piece and the grounds are also impressive with Spectacular gardens, underground walkways, hidden tunnels, waterfalls.

Sintra Portugal
Gothic Structure
Sintra Portugal
Sintra Portugal
Sintra Portugal
Quinta da Regaleira
Sintra Portugal

The Sintra tour also took us along the altantic coast. 

Atlantic Coast, Portugal

Here is a link to the tour we took through Viator SINTRA


Time To Get Our Rental Car--Wolves And Porto Awaits........

When we arranged transportation with 100 Rumos, it also included picking us up at the apartment and hauling us up to the airport for the rental car.
The driver was waiting for us, as we popped out of our apartment-NICE 

We have had good luck with Avis, so we reserved with them again.
Here's the TIPS for car rental and driving around Portugal:

First, if you don't have it already, get the Chase Sapphire Visa Card and they will cover car insurance in Portugal.
Also make sure you have enough credit on your card, to cover the cost of the car, they will put that amount on your card for the duration of the trip.

A couple weeks before your trip, contact Chase and they will give you a letter stating that you are covered for insurance. Just hand that over to the car rental company, and they will be happy. 
Head to Chase Sapphire Visa Card and all the info is there.

Next, learn how to drive a "STICK" - HA! Really if you need practice or want to learn, you will save A LOT of $!
Auto transmission will be double or triple your cost!
FYI:  Gas is in litres. One Gallon equals = 3.79 Litres
AND if you are driving north or south of Lisbon you will come upon toll roads.
It was no problem to pay by coin. So before you head out keep at 30 Euros in coins for the tolls roads. As you come upon the tolls, you can easily see where to "pay as you go" and the electronic lanes. 


Before hitting the road, we did squeeze in a Lisbon Tasing Tour!
I really suggest these tasting tours for many reasons:
Lisbon Specialties   "Lots Of Smiling"   Drinks   "Hidden Gems"  
We booked, once again, through Airbnb "experiences" Here is the link to the TASTING.

NOW, In our opinion, this pastry (below) was the most surprising and tastiest pastry of the tour AND the trip!! 
REALLY,   FIND   THIS    PLACE. 
The surprise is, it's a white bean and almond pastry.
Looks pretty simple right?! HUH, everyone wanted more!!!!!!! 

Fábrica do Pastel Feijão
Fábrica do Pastel Feijão

FABRICA PASTEL FEIJAO. They don't have a website, but here is their Facebook page and you can get more information there.  

Pastry shops are everywhere, It's part of Lisbon. The neighborhood of Belem is the most famous, but really hop into any, they all are wonderful!  

Pastry Portugal
Pastry Portugal


Wolves,  Porto,  And Winding Through Wine Country

So, one of the things we love about visiting animal sanctuaries is it takes you OFF THE BEATEN TRACK!
For Portugal, this is our BagsAndBones moment at the Iberian Wolf Recovery Center. Groupo Lobo.  The Iberian Wolf is endangered in Portugal. They are now protected in wild.
The Iberian Wolf Recovery Center is a safe haven for 14 Iberian wolves who enjoy a large wooded area (42 acres) in the area of Mafra. 

Iberian Wolf Center

These wolves have either been rescued from zoos, injured in the wild, or taken from owners who were keeping them as pets. We were able to see the wolves at a distance, however the guide did bring binoculars, for close up viewing.  
The pictures below are Iberian Wolves. 
These are not our pictures, but I wanted you to see these beautiful animals. The tour is very educational, and is given on Saturday and Sundays only. I would call or email ahead.

We were told that the later tour is better as the wolves more active in the evening and you may hear their sweet howling, their songs of contentment in the woods.
Here is the link to the center: Iberian Wolf

Iberian Wolf
Iberian Wolf

Welcoming In The New Year........Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
New Years Eve Porto

Gearing up for the the New Year Eve Party in the streets! 

New Years Eve Porto Portugal
New Years Eve Porto Portugal

The sound system was
Fantastic! Then it got wild !
It was great fun!
The vendors knew how to pour Gin Drinks!
My biggest Gin and Tonic Yet! 

Next day, we were moving a bit slow, but more to eat and drink in this lovely city.

Porto, Portugal

As with Lisbon, Art is everywhere! 

Street Art Porto Portugal
Street Art Porto Portugal

Time to taste Port in Porto! We chose a tour with CROFT. Bring a coat, it was like a Dungeon in there! Very interesting and tasty!

Croft Port Tour

Lunch suggestion! The one thing you will notice is the restaurant prices, compared to the states. This was a fun restaurant! We had fish, potatoes, salad and soup bar for 4.70 Euro.

Galeria de Paris Porto
Galeria de Paris Porto
Galeria de Paris Porto

Here is the facebook link for the restaurant with description and address: GALERIA
IN FACT, this street is where the NIGHT LIFE happens! Here is a link to nightlife in Porto! 

disco Porto Portugal

New Year's Day-Heading to Heaven, Okay, So It's Wine Country. Same thing.   

When you come upon the Duro Valley, the curves of the land are mesmerizing. Beautiful steep terraces. A bit "Craggy" in the winter, but perfect "sipp-in" weather and....
A perfect New Year's Day! 

Duro Valley Portugal
Pinhao Duro Valley
Pinhao Duro Valley
Duro Valley Portugal
Quinta Do Silval Pinhao
Quinta Do Silval Pinhao

We stayed at Quinta Do Silval in Pinhao. This estate has produced Wine and Port since 1870. The views are lovely along with the staff and dinner. In 2005 they started the hotel which offers 14 rooms. The views from the pool are lovely, maybe a little chilly in January, here is a link to the Hotel: Quinta.

Quinta Do Silval Pool

Quinto Do Silval Pool

This area of the Duoro Valley, is called Pinhao. In warmer weather there are guided boat tours in traditional Rabelo Boats. These are the traditional Portuguese wooden cargo boats used to transport goods and people along the Douro River. There are many price options available. See link below the pictures.
We opted for the inside wine and port tours. We decided on Quinta Do Bomfim. Very nice tour and a spectacular view of the Douro River from the tasting room. 

Quinta Do Bomfim
Quinta Do Bomfim
Quinta Do Bomfim

Here is a pretty complete guide to ALL the wine regions, restaurants, tours and hotels. Hope you visit this lovely area! Link: WINE



Back To Lisbon. Aaaah........ Last few days, Museums, Flea Market, TRAMS and a restaurant list, just for you!  

Lisbon Trams
Lisbon Trams

Climb Aboard!!

Just watch your your Stuff! You can catch Tram 28 in Square Martim Moniz in Baixa (the city center).
Look for a Metro Sign ( see picture below) head down the stairs, and buy a Viva Viagem Trolley Ticket from the machine ( again see below). We bought the 24 hour ticket for $6.15 each.
Here is a link for all the information on the tram routes. TRAM
Tip: This would be a GOOD TIME to use a money belt or secure locked purse or pocket. We did see a couple of guys "eyeing" our stuff. We also noticed that after awhile, they hopped off and hopped on the next Tram right behind us.

So take a look at the video below!! See the streets of the Alfama District and see inside the Tram and catch the Illegal rider!

vivagram lisbon
metrosign for Tram, Lisbon

Museums and Flea Markets 

If Flea Markets are your "Thang", here is one to get to early!
Feira da Ladra, literally means: "Thieves Fair" the oldest fair in Lisbon, its origins came from the Middle Ages, XIII century. It’s a popular street market where you'll find a WIDE variety of "stuff"!  
Most of the objects are second hand and you can find furniture, crafts, clothing, "creepy stuff", antiques, books, and much more! I was told you can "Haggle" to your hearts desire! 

Thieves Fair, Lisbon Portugal

The market is in the Alfama neighborhood. Here is the address : Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-472 Lisboa, Portugal
Open Tuesday's and Saturday's. 6am-5pm


Art, Culture, Museums! More Time Please! 

We had no idea! If you love Museums and Art, make some time to visit the neighborhood of Belem!  
Here is a great site to tell you all the about the cultural centers, arts and museums in the this area and beyond!  ARTS
Jon was very interested in the The Maritime Museum, so for our last few hours in the city, that's where we went!  Over 17,000 items and it was IMPRESSIVE! 

Lisbon Maritime Museum

Where to Eat?

Well, we are going to give you some great recommendations BUT we have to agree with
one of the Uber driver's on this one.
Here's the conversation:

Uber Driver:  "Are you enjoying the food in Portugal?"
Us:  "Yes, very much!" 
Uber Driver:  "I am from Portugal, and I have drove all over the United States. I am sorry to say, food is not great everywhere".
Us:  *Pause* "Sometimes you have to search out great Chef's".
Uber Driver:   "Aaaah, there is the difference. You can go into a restaurant, any price range, any size and it will be fabulous"
Us:   "You know, You are right."

Lisbon, Portugal

So, don't worry if your running late, lose the list, or your feet are wasted, you can "pop" in any restaurant and get some great food!
TIP: Almost EVERY restaurant will bring you olives and bread to start. These are NOT free, there is a small charge. It is absolutely "okay" to wave those away. Just kindly refuse. We never did of course.......
And now, here is a GREAT list of restaurants you might want to try!

-Casa do Alentejo -- The restaurant is on the second floor, beautifully decorated; carved wood panels and paintings on the walls and ceilings.  There is also a cafeteria on the first floor, popular for its fish tapas.
Location:  Rua portas de santo Antão, 58, Lisbon +351213405140

-Adega Victor Horta -- Portuguese dishes in a cozy, romantic atmosphere. Fine wines, tapas and small plates available.
Location:  Rua Cais de Santarem, 6, Lisbon +351 218 825 082

-ZamBeZe--  Located in the former Loureiro Market it offers a fusion of Portuguese food with fresh African flavors.
Location:  Calçada Marquês de Tancos, Lisbon,  +351 218877056

-Le Petit Café -- Drinks and meals with reasonable price tags. There is a great selection of fish, especially the octopus, which is well-presented and beautifully plated.
Location:  Largo de São Martinho, 6, Lisbon, + 351 218 881 304

-Chapitô à Mesa-- Some of the best views in the city! There is a  variety of traditional Portuguese plates, deserts are also fabulous. Reservations needed for the terrace. 
Location:  Rua Costa do Castelo 7, Lisbon,  +351 218875077

-Chafariz D’El Rei-- The very best in breakfast and brunch! Bring your camera for the decor AND the food! 
Location:  Chafariz de El-Rei 6,Lisboa,  +351 21 888 6150

-Cervejaria Ramiro--  Make a reservation or get there real early, like before 6pm. 
It is one of Lisbon’s top fish restaurants.  The sauces and marinades are to kill for!  
Location:  Rua Joã o Villaret 11, Lisboa +351 217 973 856 *make a reservation.

-A Cevicheria-- Best Ceviche! Peruvian menu; outstanding staff and don't miss the dulce de leche for dessert!
Location:  R. Dom Pedro V 129, 1250-096 Lisboa  +351 21 803 8815

-O Prego da Peixeria -- Delectable sandwiches! 
Location:  Rua da Escola Politécnica, 40, Lisbon  +351 213 471 356

-Bistro Gato Pardo--  Cozy and Romantic. The soup, salads, pastas are incredible. Every single dish is cooked in a unique way, nicely prepared and tasty. Call for reservations, not open Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Location:  Rua de são Vicente nr.10, 1100-574 Lisboa, +351 934 696 781

-Taberna da Rua Das Flores-- Cozy and fabulous! Petiscos to rave about!
Location: Rua das Flores 103, 1200-015 Lisboa  +351 21 347 9418


And To End The Story.......
A Quote By The Famous Portuguese Poet And Writer, Fernando Pessoa.

Wise is he who enjoys the show offered by the world
Fernando Pessoa

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​​​​​Would love to hear about your Trip to Portugal, Please comment below.

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