Portugal is simply amazing. Nowhere else have I seen so many relaxed and kind people. Locals will gladly help you, tell you what is worth seeing and might even take you there. Almost everybody speaks English or at least try to – so there will be no problems as far as the communication is concerned.
Late in the afternoon we flew straight to Porto where the adventure begins. At the airport we searched for a car that will drive us around this amazing country for 7 days. Attention: Before you rent a car, make sure that you checked the box “fully comprehensive insurance” because a scratch or two can quickly beautify your car. It was late and our stomachs were empty, so we headed straight to the city centre. As far as food is concerned don’t rush to fancy restaurants, but find a small, lovely inn run by a local family. We followed our advice and end up with full stomachs filled with Porto’s speciality Francesinha.
The next days we went to a book shop. Yeah, you heard me, a book shop. But Livraria Lellois no ordinary book shop. It is known as an inspiration for JK Rolling’s library in the Harry Potterbooks. The stairs are winding in the middle like a snake and there is infinite amount of books.
Later, we went on a walk, passed the bridge Ponte de Dom Luis and poured ourselves some Port wine. It is sweet, really good, but I have to warn you that it contains 18-21% of alcohol – so don’t drink fast if you want to use your legs for walking home. An actual wine tasting in the afternoon hours is also an option (highly recommend it), but we couldn’t go because we were on our way to Lisbon.
On the way we made two stops. The first one was in Nazare, north beach (Praia de Norte) where Garret McNamara surfed 24 meters high wave and set the record with it. However, even if you are not a fan of surfing, you can go to the cape, where a view on magnificent ocean and long sand beaches is waiting for you.
The second one was Peniche. A place with fascinating cultural heritage and beaches that are appropriate for people with fear of depth – get ready to walk for 15 minutes before you can actually have a swim.
Lisbon, Lisbon, oh my dear Lisbon, a city of life! The place that is definitely worth coming back to. The majestic castle Sao Jorge at the top of the city welcomed us. It offers an amazing view and because of it, it makes your decision, where to go next, a lot easier. Get ready to spend around 2-3 hours here with castle’s amazing views, weapon exhibition, wonderful inside, lovely cafes and even peacocks walking lightly among you.
My next big wish was to take a ride with well known tram number 28. We tried to catch it “not stuffed with tourists”, but it was all in vain. The only time you might enjoy the ride and not be squashed like sardines would be really early in the morning.
To cheer up we ate in a famous restaurant Ramiro. We waited a bit, but the time passes by quickly if a self-service beer is available. Ramiro was filled with people, tourists and locals, who love seafood or want to try something new. Attention: do not wear white, many people orders crab in a gravy, where you get 3 things: a small board, hammer and a bib. I have one thing to say to you – gravy is freakin’ everywhere after you finish eating.
We were running out of time and we were a bit hangover from drinking in front of a bar with the same name as a tasty Portugal liquor Ginjinha. In order to see as many sights as possible, we decided for a Tuk Tuk ride. Our “reggie” driver took us to many viewpoints, showed us many churches – one of them was Santa Engracia, in which people, who did great things for Portugal, are buried (they say that Christiano Ronaldo will also be buried here). Overall, the ride is interesting, but if you don’t have a busy schedule, go and see the city by yourself.
Lastly we went 7km west from the city centre, by the river Tagus, where Monument of Discoveries (Padrao dos Descobrimentos), which was built to honour the Portuguese Discoveries, and Belem Tower stands. You can enter both of them and the views from them is simply amazing. Then, there is 25thApril Bridge (similar to the one in San Francisco) and the Sanctuary of Christ the King (am I in Rio de Janeiro right now?).
Day 5 and 6
Algarve is a definition for pure enjoyment in Portugal. To wonder around you don’t need to plan, but simply get in the car and drive around. I guarantee you will find the most beautiful beach without trip adviser (please don’t trust it because top rated beaches are filled with people and trash), all on your own.
We randomly found ourselves in Sagres with the most amazing beach I’ve ever seen. Then we drove to a beautiful, with a hint of Spanish culture, city Faro and end up discovering famous Portugal caves. – if you are brave and aren’t feeling cold, you can swim, otherwise you can explore them with a canoe.
I must admit that we mostly swam, enjoyed and filled our tummies with fine Portuguese cuisine and their specialities.
It was the last day and we decided to have a big breakfast on the rooftop of our lovely house while shaft of sunrise gently greeted us. There was a long ride to Porto ahead of us, so we stopped at the bakery for a Portugal dessert Pastel de Nata, which tastes similar to a vanilla cake. We were enjoying the sweets and trying to catch a glimpse of nature one last time.
PS: Portugal is known for cork, so ladies a bag or a wallet made out of cork is simply a MUST!