Europe Trip – Lisbon & Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Day 4 (May 12)

So we arrived in Lisbon, Portugal today… Honestly completely mind blown already. We had no expectations for the city or country since we both did not know much about it beforehand, but man is it beautiful here. We’re both already in love with it and want to come back (no wonder Teresa’s parents had their honeymoon here – the people, streets, and culture of it all is truly amazing). Also, our hostel (Goodnight Lisbon) is especially great. No over-enthusiasm here, it is just perfect.

Checked in smoothly (minus the 1 hour and 45 min wait for the aerobus to arrive…), met some of the hostel staff who are awesome, got our bearings in order and decided to go grab food around the corner. Delicious by the way, definitely a family owned place with again CHEAP wine (yay for me!)

Headed back to the hostel and right away we found out they offer free sangria every night from 7pm-9pm, how amazing is that. Plus the facilities, the rooms, the kitchen, and the people are awesome. Ended up meeting a girl from the United States, a girl from Montreal, a Chilean man, and a guy from Essex near London in the U.K. Also the hostel was doing a free “family” dinner that night where we got to try authentic Portuguese food and meet everyone in the hostel

Dinner was awesome and really got to talk and hangout with everyone. Went up to our mixed shared room (6 bed room) and met our new roommate who just arrived from England. So far everyone has been unbelievably nice. I guess you really don’t realize how easy it is to meet people and make friends travelling. I think the quick acceptance to share who you are really makes people become friends very quickly.

So decided to head to bed after the sangria and talking with everyone in the common areas and have a good rest for a full day tomorrow.

Day 5 (may 13)

Started today off with a set plan – Sintra! Only around a 30 minute train ride away from the main square near our hostel, this small town is essentially a royal sanctuary with stunning castles, palaces, and tree/mountain terrain; it was a must for a nice day trip away from Lisbon.

Ate breakfast downstairs with the other travellers (the offer free waffles here!) and worked our way to the station to by our train tickets. Along the ride got talking with two elderly ladies from the U.K. who explained how Portugal has been their longest ally and that they frequently do trips to the country due to the closeness and ease of it all. They asked us about Fort Mac and what was happening with Canada and then talked about each other’s future travels.

Arrived in Sintra, bought our shuttle tickets to take us to the top of the mountain to visit the Pena National Palace (coloured in yellows, oranges, and reds). Though raining, it did not ruin the experience at all. The views were incredible and it was not too busy so we could fully enjoy every part of it. Did learn however that our phones die quickly in Europe due to the voltage difference when charging (Mental note: must learn to conserve battery). Hopped on a shuttle back down to the bottom and opted to walk around and explore for a bit some of the shops and local architecture. Grabbed the train back into Lisbon and headed to the main street Rue Augusta which connects to where our hostel is located, and decided to grab lunch.

Back at the hostel we found out they were planning a dinner/night out that anyone staying there could sign up for. For 12 euros you get to have a 4 course meal at a Portuguese restaurant, have unlimited drinks, and be taken to an awesome local bar/spot in the area with everyone. So… YES! Around 15 of us signed up for it which allowed us to meet a Canadian couple, an Australian guy, get to know our British friend in our room, a girl from Austria, a few from the United States, a German girl, and a few more – one of the hostel planned the entire night and took us around.

So the food ended up being awesome plus the unlimited drinks was definitely a bonus. The bar we went to afterwards was actually attached to this really cool graffitied basketball court and led to a restaurant sort of venue with live music and cheap drinks. Afterwards, Teresa and I for some reason thought we must go try french fries from McDonald’s in Portugal. Let’s just say that we like it in Canada better (but we’re probably bias) and ketchup here is extremely sweet. Missing the Heinz. So, back to the hostel we go – Teresa headed straight to bed while I hungout in the common area with people for awhile (they have beer in their vending machines here for 1.25 euro…) Then to bed I went for a solid night’s sleep.

Day 6 (may 14)

With the sun out in full effect teresa and i were ready for another day trip adventure. Where to next but the small island town across the “river” which we could get to on the ferry boat for crazy cheap. Originally we wanted to go on a boat cruise but sadly when we asked about it down at the pier, the said it was done for maintenance. Next best thing? Ride the fer twice across the canal before getting off on the island to explore. May sound pretty boring but honestly it was awesome, just got to sit back and chat and enjoy the views.

Once on the island we explored the cobble streets for a bit and window shopped the boutiques and restaurants to see if there was anything we may be interested in. Ended up choosing this delicious restaurant that teresa could get squid at and where they served free of charge olives and bread. The place was extremely authentic and the food even better. Afterwards we walked a bit more, took some photos by the pier and then headed back on the boat to the other side.

Once getting back we decided to explore the city a bit more and take in the sites. After tiring ourselves out we opted to head back to the hostel to catch up with everyone. This led into playing drinking games with everyone in the common area till late that night followed by some much needed sleep for the next day.

Day 7 (may 15)

Following the previous days more lackadaisical (not a word i know), we heard about a large outdoor flea market all the locals take part in every saturday in the old town area. Excited for fun finds and bartering, we set out on our journey. Upon arriving we were stunned with the size of it all, seemed as though it would go on for streets and streets. Everything from handmade trinkets, tools, toys, household items, clothing, music, shoes and more could be found. We were in our element! Time to hunt!

Midway through our bargain hunting we stopped at what seemed to be a small italian cafe. Bruschetta, sandwiches and a glass of wine and cappuccino later we were ready to go for round two in the market. After wearing ourselves out we made or way back to the hostel to have our last official night in Lisbon. With some time of regrouping we agreed on wanting to go to the main quarter, sitback, order some delicious handmade pizza and gelato and people watch. Ended up watching a band/orchestra of students perform classic songs (one being the Star Wars theme song of course!) and then exploring around for some gifts teresa wanted. Another round of catchups at the hostel with everyone, one airport shuttle transfer booked and we were ready for madrid the next day. At 4am yes… but still eager. Cheap flights always win.