Portugal

Eight Days in Charming Portugal!*

Location: Lisboa, Portugal

European but authentically Portuguese is how I would sum up my impressions of Portugal. Perhaps it’s their peculiar obsession to bacalao fish, or the funny-looking handwritten menu posted by the window of restaurants and cafeterias, or the bed sheets and clothes hanging out in terraces to dry. Perhaps, it’s the numerous pork dishes and sinfully sweet pastries commonly found around town, the richness in taste of the seafood dishes maybe or  the thick, sweet flavor of Porto wine. Whatever it is, there is unmistakably different and charming about Portugal.

Portugal is a country on the edge, literally. Looking at a map, its lands is Europe’s final coastline to the Atlantic Ocean in the continent’s westernmost part. Together with Spain, Andorra and parts of France, it forms the Iberian Peninsula. It is close to the northern African country of Morocco to the south, and a stone’s throw away from Spain to the east (separated only by “historical destiny”). With borders established by 13th century, Portugal is one of the oldest European nations, dating back to 9th-6th century B.C. with the settlement of Phoenician and Greek traders.

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A snapshot of my notes for our Portugal trip. I came up with a daily itinerary, noted ways of transport from one city to another, specified main attractions/background and history, as well as the touristic places (as a warning).

Lisboa

As a traveler in Portugal’s capital city of Lisboa, one is bound to witness the signs of a glorious era that seemed to have lingered for long in the past. You can feel it in the cobblestone pathways as you explore the city on foot. Noticeable are the sprawling buildings and plazas that seem to welcome you with open arms after a constricting walk through narrow, sometimes steep, up and then downhill winding roads that are lined up with rustic buildings. Just as the spaces are welcoming, the weather sunny, the Portuguese people are delightfully warm.

Below are photos of the Lisboa landscape during the day and at night time. From majestic to peculiar, to buildings old and not-so-old, Lisboa is a lovable city. For its youthful vibe and perfect weather in September, it is easily one of our favorite cities so far.

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Belém

Belém is a municipality of Lisboa that is about 15 minutes bus ride from the city center. We visited it mainly for the world famous Pastéis de Belém. Verdict: two thumbs up! Crunchy crust outside, soft (ala leche flan) inside, melts in the mouth, goes perfectly well with espresso.

Considering our (only) primary itinerary in Belem was to eat the Portuguese pastry, we’ve seen these much beautiful scenery (by pretty much following tourist-looking people?). Not so bad. Around September, Portugal is still flocked by tourists yet we’ve been told peak season is July-August.

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The world-famous Pasteis de Belem.

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Coffee is cheap and so so good in Portugal.

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Snapshots Around Town

Lisboa at night and at dawn reminds me so much of Malate, Manila during my college years. Full of young people getting more and more drunk as the night progresses, lots of bars, different types of music, and because it’s actually hot and/or too crowded inside, people hang out on the sidewalk.

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It took me a month to research for the good route to go around the country, city stopovers, places not to miss, hostel bookings, transport and most importantly, the beach. This & the realization of the beautiful plan make Portugal so unforgettable. And at the end of the day, after all that’s been said and done, this country is home to Ferdinand Magellan, that guy who conquered our beloved Philippines in March 16, 1521. How could I not come prepared for battle? 🙂