Olá! I’m back from 2 weeks in Portugal, my annual solo trip for this year… Well semi-solo this time around, since the first half of it was spent with dear Y in Lisbon and Lagos before she took off for Spain and I hung around in Portugal. It’s gonna be super busy in the upcoming weeks getting all the posts together, so here’s a bit of a pictoral round up just to give you a bit of a teaser of my entire trip.
Portugal is a pretty amazing country to visit. I didn’t know very much about it going in, other than that it was next to Spain and I was probably gonna see a lot of castles and churches there, but it surprised me with its various other facets – from the amazing street art not just in Lisbon, but in almost all the cities I visited!
The widespread use and sheer variety of Azulejos, the decorative tiles introduced by the Moorish back in the day embraced and adapted to Portuguese style also kept me quite busy taking pix throughout the trip.
and of course to the great hearty food that’s generally cheap and filled me right up to the brim. It was mostly pork and seafood, and I’m heartily sick of ham and cheese at this point.
And the walking, all that walking and the endless hills to climb – Portugal apparently is known for producing good quality shoes, and it’s no wonder given the extremely hilly terrain they have to deal with! I bought myself a cute pair of cork booties as a nice souvenir of the city, so we’ll see whether that is true in the long run.
Lisbon was where I started and ended my trip, and some highlights include listening and learning about Fado, trying the authentic Portuguese egg tarts called Pasteis de Belem;
as well as queuing 4 hours to visit the Galerias Romanas, something even the locals don’t always have the chance to do!
A day trip out to nearby Sintra to check out the medieval ruins ended up in an unexpected detour to Cabo da Roca, the quite stunning western-most point of Europe.
The weather in the Algarve was very lovely and appropriately warm and sunny, and we enjoyed both the coastal cliff beaches of Lagos and the beautiful flat sandy beach in Tavira. Again, unexpected encounters with street art in Lagos ended up in a really tiring but enjoyable art discovery of the little beach town, while the quiet little town of Tavira was a great midpoint break and a nice way to start off the solo half of my trip.
After that I headed all the way up North to Porto, which is a stunning city right from the get-go, as you enter the city via train and the valley comes into view. Even the train station is a work of art in itself!
Naturally I had a lot of Port and probably ate my weight in meat, spent a lot of time by the Douro river and while it rained down on me during several bits of the trip, I still had a great experience overall.
A day trip out to the medieval town of Guimaraes was a nice change of pace from the wine, if perhaps not the most exciting.
A quick 1-night stop in the university town of Coimbra on the way back to Lisbon was definitely worthwhile even if it rained on me half the time as well, with one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen,
And of course no trip is special without the sheer variety of random friends and acquaintances you make on it, however fleeting they may be. Dutch mum and balcony neighbour Vivian had a nice leisurely exploration of Tavira together, while Puerto-Rican native Lui from New York became a familiar face who made the various walking tours more fun. Aussie-Polish couple Sean and Joanna whom I ran into twice quite serendipitously in Porto were really cool folk I’d love to get to know better and even the various older folk (mostly Canadian or German) that I got to know at various junctures definitely made the travel more fun, whether it was sharing some really strong alcohol in Coimbra, or just waiting in the long queues for the bus in Sintra.
Big shout out to Bloghouse buddy Julika from Sateless Suitcase who gave some really great tips on Portugal. And thanks to the folk from Oppo Singapore who loaned me a Oppo N1-Mini phone to test on the trip – the majority of the photos you’ll see are from this phone, which has a flippy camera that makes taking selfies easier. This trip was the first time I tried booking AirBnB accommodations as well which resulted in some pretty cool stays.
Obrigado Portugal for an excellent trip! Now, where to begin blogging about it? Besides the usual fare like accommodation reviews and city guides, you’re also likely to see a bunch of street art guides as well, and I think I’ll need an entire post just to dedicate to my obsession with Azulejos too…
It’s gonna be a busy time ahead, stay tuned!