Last week was my 30th birthday so as a present to myself I booked a short break to Portugal for some much-needed sunshine and relaxation. It is the first time I’ve ever been away on my own (other than for work) and I was really excited about putting all of my plans into action. Once again the ever reliable assistant skills kicked in and I had my itinerary in place weeks in advance of me actually boarding the plane! Along with a few pretty pictures, here is a little review of my time in Porto and Lisbon.
Tuesday 3rd July
I arrived in Porto early Tuesday afternoon and headed straight to my hotel via the metro system from the airport. It was really easy to use and considering I don’t speak any Portuguese a bit of a blessing! The description of the hotel stated that there were lovely gardens in which to take relax and enjoy the sun, this was a slight exaggeration but once I checked in I did head straight to a deck chair and sat there for the rest of the afternoon. Very necessary after a rainy few weeks in London! The hotel itself was in a good location and really quite a grand view from the street outside.
After taking in enough sun to have developed a red glow I set off for a walk around Porto. As I was only staying for one night I decided to take a bus tour around the city so that I could see as much as possible in the short time I was there. For €13 I certainly got my money’s worth!
After the tour, which took about an hour I went for a glass of wine and some food at the Cafe Majestic which gave me a chance to use the small amount of Portuguese I had learnt especially for the trip ‘um copo de vinho tinto por favour’… so after the red wine and food I walked around the rest of central Porto and admired the amazing architecture.
I’ve never been to Portugal before so I was really overwhelmed by how beautiful the buildings and statues were, particularly in the side streets in and around Porto. The graffiti wasn’t bad either!
Wednesday 4th July
I woke up to a rainy Porto which was so disappointing having thought I’d escaped the weather back home in London. My original plan was to do a little more sunbathing and sightseeing before catching a train to Lisbon in the late afternoon but with the horrible weather I decided to try to get on an earlier train to lovely hot and sunny Lisbon. I pack up my bags and legged it to Campanha station and luckily got on the train at 11am which meant I would arrive into Lisbon around 2pm – perfect! I found it really easy to get the train and underground metro around Portugal, it did help that both my hotels were right next to centrally located stops. Once in Lisbon I check in at Hotel Gat and immediately went out sightseeing in the all important sunshine!
My hotel was in Rossio so starting from there I walked down Rua Augusta to the water front and all the way along and up to Bairro Alto. Lisbon is such a beautiful city and I loved all of the little winding streets that lead you to interesting shops and bars.
I ate dinner in a small restaurant that was recommended in my travel guide. It was supposed to be cheap, it wasn’t and it was supposed to be tasty, it wasn’t! Plus the waiter spilt red wine over me so the meal probably didn’t get off to the best start! After not the most enjoyable dining experience I meandered back to my hotel and a good nights sleep.
Thursday 5th July
Beach day! I had decided to enjoy the sunshine during the day and sightsee a bit more in the evening, unfortunately the terrace in the hotel was not a good sunbathing spot so I thought I would go to the seaside instead. There are beaches closer to Lisbon but I thought I would go to Costa da Caparica because it meant I had to take a ferry across the Tagus and could get a nice view of Lisbon from the water. When I arrived it was overcast and quiet so I got a good spot and waited for the sun to peek through the clouds, which it certainly did!
And that is where I stayed for the rest of the day. I hadn’t quite realised how sun deprived I was! Eventually I made my way back to Lisbon for the sightseeing to continue.
Friday 7th July
As it was my last day in Portugal I planned to make the most of it. I started with a very steep walk up to the Castle of São Jorge which seemed to take forever, particularly when there were buses full of people and taxis going past me every few minutes! It was well worth it for the views of Lisbon though.
Again the architecture was incredible! With so many different colours and styles Lisbon is just such a beautiful and vibrant city. I decided to catch a tram back down to the main part of town which was good choice as the day was getting hotter and hotter!
My next stop was right over the other side of the city to Belém, which I was really looking forward to seeing as I did a little bit of Portuguese exploration history at college and wanted to see some of the statues celebrating the countries achievements. I must say I wasn’t disappointed, the whole area was stunning and I wholly recommend it to anyone that visits Lisbon. As I stepped off the tram the Jerónimos Monastery certainly dominated my view. It is pretty spectacular and once inside is equally as impressive!
My favourite part of the trip was seeing the Monument to the Discoveries, the statute is incredibly detailed and I think I must have taken a photo of it from every possible angle!
So I managed to pack a lot into my little trip to Portugal and would thoroughly recommend both Lisbon and Porto as great cities to visit, especially when you are recovering from a rather large birthday milestone!