I can't state it has been love at first sight! Everything started by change as any great love!!!
Earlier in 2010 I was passed a flier depicting some cities in Portugal, their attractions and beauties. I don't know why, but instead of throwing it away I put it a drawer of my desk.
I'd actually forgotten about it until six months ago. I was in despair as I was passing through the hardest time of my life (I will not get longer about personal affairs). I needed a break: definitely!
I was sorting out my room when I accidentally found the flier! I took it and started reading it! It took me one second to decide to go! I immediately checked on skyscanner.net for the flight and to prontohotel.com where I booked all the hotels I stayed in during my journey.
Three days later I was flying to Portugal....to Oporto (the first stage)
I didn't buy a guide on purpose as I wanted to experience the adventure and decide where to go and what to do day by day and do not plan anything!
I spent three days in Oporto and this what I saw and done:
I arrived in Oporto in the afternoon and didn't have any idea how to get to the hotel! I was sure it would be quite easy to ask for information and get it! But I was wrong! People here are really nice and kind but they roughly /barely speak English! I can't blame them for that..their language is so beautiful! (I'm taking Portuguese lessons!)
To cut short I went sightseeing around the city, Firstly I walked trough the main square, close to my hotel, where was set a funny exhibition, There were several sculptures of man and women symbolizing peace, nature, technology! It's not easy to explain (you should have a look to it to better understand). I had dinner in a fantastic and cheap restaurant O Escondidnho www.escondidinho.com.pt where I ate fried bacalao (typical dishes) and a cake..spending only 11€. It's incredible but Portugal is really cheap!!!
I wake up not so early (I really needed to rest a bit) and started going around the city. I didn't have a map so I just walked. It's the best way to discover every corner of a city! It's fantastic!!!!! I had a nice walk along the river, went across the ancient bridge Ponte de Dom Luis I, then popped into some museums (I'm keen on them) as Serralves of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Port Wine and the Romantic Museum. When I was walking, I met an Italian Girl who visited Porto alone! We started chatting and decided to plan together our next days in Porto. So In the evening we had dinner together at Leitaria Quinta Do Paço where we had an excellent grilled beef and a tempting dessert counter.
Last day in Oporto
My new friend and I decided to stay in Porto all day long and then catch a train late in the night and go to Lisbon. We spent most day in Arca d'Agua Garden a huge a marvellous garden: we saw a lot of animals including cows and porks! It's unusual to see this kind of animals in the very heart of a city! We also visited the church of the Convent of S. Joao Novo, Palacio de Bolsa and Casa do Infante. We just had a sandwich and caught the train up to Lisbon.
We spent a week in Lisbon and it was great! It's definitely the best place I've ever been to! I will only mention what you shouldn't miss of this beautiful city!
Let's start from Castelo de S. Jorge (St. George Castle), Miradouro de Santa Luzia where you can enjoy a beautiful view over Alfama the ancient district of Lisbon which hasn't been totally destroyed by the earthquake in 1755. Then we've been to S. Vicente de Fora; take a look to its church whose tiles represent some characters of La Fontaine tales. We bought some cheap second hand clothes, cd's and books. In the evening we were so tired that we decided to relax and have dinner at A Severa, one of the most popular restaurants and houses of Fados.
Another place that it's worthy to be visited is Belém. There are several things to see in this area. First af all the gorgeous monastery, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Palacio de Belém. We had a great time at the famous Fabrica de Pastreis de Belem www.pasteisdebelem.pt where we had a hot coffee and a very tasty pastreis, a typical Portuguese cake! Delicious.
The following days we had a trip to Sintra where we admired the wonderful castle and its garden and Cascais where we went bathing in the ocean!
Don't forget going to Capo da Roca! Amazing! It's literally the end of Europe! There is nothing but the ocean!!
Unfortunately I had only 10 days off from work and didn't have enough time to turn around Portugal as I would have liked! But I'm planning to go back as soon as I can, so that I could update this diary!!