Portugal is a country that has always stayed off my radar for a reason I can’t really explain. Maybe it is that there aren’t many convenient flights from Bulgaria, maybe it’s that I’m not a huge fan of its nature. However, Portugal and the whole Iberian Peninsula nest so much history that one should visit it at least out of respect as they say. Besides, both me and Tina are firm believers that each place, with it’s own perceived advantages and disadvantages has a spirit that one should experience, a scent that one should feel with their very own nose. With that, let me tell you about our one-week trip around Portugal.
After a long and tiring journey, it’s already Saturday night and we enjoy a warm shower at a super cute little hostel in Sintra – a day-tripper little town, some 30 km away from Lisbon. We do an early morning stroll around the town, followed by a quick zip-line experience and head to Cabo da Roca – the westernmost extent of Portugal and continental Europe.
Sintra & Cabo Da Roca
Cabo da Roca is an interesting place. Very beautiful, stunning views and all, but full with tourists. We recommend grabbing some fresh fruit and veggies from the villages around and soaking some sunshine while staring at the horizon. It is utterly relaxing and creates the perfect conditions for big ideas generation.
If you dare and have proper hiking shoes, you can even go down to the beach for some pictures or simply see for yourself how cold of a heart the Atlantic has even during the hot summer months. Actually, Portugal just like many other countries facing the ocean doesn’t really have enjoyable and swimmable beaches. So, if you’re wondering whether to pack a swim suit, you probably won’t need it. Or at least we didn’t need swim suits in May. However, they say that it’s surfers heaven…
Petya and Niki enjoyed the warm May sunlight in a funky foamy way.
One of the shittiest city in Europe. Literally. Porto is full of gulls and they shit a lot, I kid you not. We get there in the evening and we can feel the presence of the sea, hear thousands of gulls squawking and smell the scent of the city. Yes, that particular scent that we talked about in the very beginning. It doesn’t feel like evening. We grab a quick bite at a random restaurant in the central area, accompanied by a local singer and her band. She sang something about love…I think.
The morning greets us with lovely weather and we see Porto in an entirely different light. Oh, and we now see the architecture. Aren’t tiles better suited for bathrooms rather than facades?
Walking around Porto is definitely worthy – just wander and feel the town. Bike too, there are plenty of good trails. There’s something to see and make you smile literally behind every corner.
One of the days in Porto we stumbled upon something that at first looked like a massive students celebration of sorts. It turned out the locals call it Queima das Fitas (Ribbon Burning) and it really is a festivity for the university students taking place in May each year. The tradition goes like this: every single person that deems themselves a student occupies the streets with the ultimate goal to reach the city hall and meet the Mayor. But! That’s not all – depending on your seniority, our little youngsters dress accordingly and play different tricks. The graduates wear a top-hat and a walking-cane, the sophomores wear the traditional costume with their capes fully crossed and the poor freshmen wear super silly outfits. Also, everyone should wear the colors of their faculty. There was a freaking weird ritual with kneeling and cane head cracking, but that was too complicated for us to understand.
This was also one of the more rare occasions when Captain Plan did not have any strict agenda to follow and we completely let the city reveal itself.
The road between Porto and Lisbon is boring. Lisbon is a whole different story though – complete, cleaner, and a bit more modern than Porto.
We went with the flow again and just wandered around the city – Lisbon is just perfect for that. Small streets, a ton of coffee shops, restaurants, castles, trams, and more. The people and the city are full of color.
Looking up and smiling as the weather is still fantastic and the sun keeps shining.
Just like in Porto, Lisbon doesn’t impress with cool beaches. The locals go to some smaller villages west of Lisbon, which are so close to each other that you feel like you never left Lisbon. We chose Cascais. A very colorful little city with quite some beaches. Some of us were brave enough to go for a quick dip, other preferred to take pictures from ashore…
If you have time and are a self-respected hipster, you have to pay a visit to LX Factory. Quite cool art place, which feels like city within the city and can easily eat a lot of your time. And affect your credit card balance too.
Bairro Alto is Lisbon’s go-to nightlife place. It is one of the central neighbourhoods which by the way is also quite interesting during the day. The bar that we highly recommend is Pensão Amor – uber cool spot with great atmosphere, drinks and lovely balcony view.
Now pack a bunch of good friends and get lost in Portugal. We’ll definitely get back one day.