2 days in Lisboa: explore and eat!

Lisbon or as it is affectionately and officially called, Lisboa, has become one of our favorite cities in Europe. We talk a lot about ‘feeling the vibe’ or ‘not feeling the vibe’ of a city and for Lisboa we felt the vibe, oh yes!

We got to Lisboa early in the morning after our overnight bus right from Algeciras (Spanish port near Gibraltar) via Sevilla (Spain). We got dropped at the Oriente bus station and took an Uber to our hostel, Travellers House.2.JPGIf you like hostels and don’t mind sharing the room with random people, we recommend Travellers House. It has a very cool, chic feel and the people running it are passionate locals who organize daily activities for the inhabitants, and are willing, and more than happy, to help you plan your own trips. We got some great recommendations from them!

We spent 2 days in Lisbon (no surprises there) and can’t wait to go back! Here are the top 5 things to do in and around Lisbon.

1. Take a free walking tour

Its a great way to get a feel for the city and all its neighborhoods so that it doesn’t seem too unfamiliar when you go exploring on your own later. And if it involves drinking Ginjinha on the way, ever better!

2. Visit Belem

See the Palace, tower, explorers’ monument (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) and eat pastels!b1.JPGb2.JPGb3.JPGb4.jpg

3. Day trip to Sintra & the Westernmost point of Europe (Cabo de Roca)

A 45 minute train ride away, Sintra is a magical palace with fairytale castles and totally worth a visit. Cabo de Roca is windy and cold, but beautiful and its quite cool to be at the Westernmost point of Europe.s1.JPGs2.JPGs3.JPGs4.jpg

4. Eat a pastel de nata- for breakfast, lunch and dinner

They’re delicious and ubiquitous! With coffee, they are just perfect.

5. Watch/experience a Fado

While if it is performed in a large impersonal setting, a Fado might feel like any other musical performance, in a language you may not understand. But, in an intimate setting, where you can feel the vibrations from the guitars in the planks of the floor below your feet and almost can taste the singer’s tears, it is a completely different experience. The singers normally have powerful, beautiful voices and it is a pleasure to be part of the journey that they take their listeners on.

And while you do all of the above, eat some (or a lot of) seafood! (And drink the cheap, but delicious, local wines)c1.JPGc2.JPGc3.JPGc4.JPG

A taste of Morocco and Portugal, in 8 days

With about 10 days to travel, starting in Barcelona, we decided to attempt to see Morocco and Portugal, one for its exotic and unexplored nature and the other for the food, wine and castles! As far as our trips go, this was probably one of the most ambitious, therefore punishing, itineraries we have come up with.

While future blog posts will describe, in more details, the individual cites explored, this is a brief description of what we decided to put ourselves through, how we managed it and loved (almost) every moment! Below is what our final plans looked like.

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Here’s how we actually accomplished it:

Barcelona – Marrakesh: Flight, Ryanair, $41.50/head, 2 hours.

Rented a car in Morocco: $200 for 3 days, approx. $60 for gas.

Marrakesh – Fes, via Ouzoud falls: 9 hours. Great views of the High Atlas mountains, though try and get to Fes before full dark, the roads are not always well lighted.

Fes – Chefchaouen: 4 hours. This time we crossed the Rif mountains, which were different, but no less beautiful.

Chefchaouen – Tangier airport: 3.5 hours. Not so scenic, but it was a means to an end. One thing to be very careful of is the port in Tangier where the ferry is from. Tangier has 2 main ports, one in the city and the other, Tangier Med, an hour away!

Tangier airport – Tangier Med: Frantic taxi ride, $40, probably overpriced but we were fairly desperate!

Tangier Med – Algeciras: Ferry, FRS $30/head. Crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and set eyes upon the Rock!!

Algeciras port – Lisbon: Bus, Alsa $80/head. The bus station was right at the port and the bus arrived right on time. The first bus took us to Seville, where we had 1.5 hours to wander around and get something to eat (and drink). The next bus took us directly to Lisbon.

Uber has come to Portugal and for more than two people traveling together, it is often cheaper to get an Uber instead of taking public transport- something we learnt over the course of the 3 days there.

Lisbon – Sintra: Train, CP $2.10/head one way. In Sintra, we walked around and took Uber to the Pena Palace: $8-10 from the center, compared to $5/head, one way, in a tuk tuk or $5/head, return, for the bus.

Sintra – Cabo de Roca – Cascais beach: Instead of waiting for a bus to take us to the rock and another to take us to Cascais, we took Uber, and asked the driver to wait while we took photos at the Western-most point in Europe. The whole trip cost $35, which worked out only about $3 more than it would’ve if we had taken the buses, and saved us a lot of time, which we had precious little of to start with, anyway!

Lisbon – Porto: Train, $25/head return, Booking the tickets in advance helped with the lower price.

Finally, Lisbon city – airport: MyTaxi (another taxi app, which lets you reserve a cab in advance). My flight to Barcelona was at 6.30am so it was too early to take the Metro, which starts around 8am.

So, it is definitely doable, if 6 hours of sleep are about enough and the hunger to see and do more remains alive! At the end of a very long week, we had taken all possible modes of transport, seen and done things we hadn’t even imagined, and still didn’t think that we had had enough!