Where: Lisbon, Portugal
When: December (pre-Christmas through New Year’s Eve)
With: Family (parents, brother, brother’s girlfriend and husband)
How long: 7 days
By the third day in Lisbon, we’d just about recovered from jetlag and decided to do some of the more quintessential touring activities (to the delight of my dad)! First, we took one of the trams to Belém, which is the most historical neighborhood of Lisbon, a bit removed from the city center.
The first stop was the Jeronimos Monastery. This is a World Heritage monument and the resting place for Portugal’s explorer, Vasco da Gama. The cloisters, following the trend, were unfortunately closed, but apparently worth the visit.
We broke for lunch after that, at a nearby cafe. In the sun, it was warm enough to take off our coats and enjoy rosé at a table outside. We were so, so lucky with that weather!
The real adventure was our day trip to Sintra. It’s a 40-minute or so train ride from the city center.
Unfortunately, we weren’t quite as lucky with the weather that day. It was overcast, colder, and alternating rain and mist all day long. For awhile this made the attractions even more alluring. Pena Palace rose from the low clouds in technicolor hues. Looking out of the towers, all you could see were white skies.
By the time we got to the Moorish castle, it felt like we were on a set of Game of Thrones. The weather made the experience a little dark and spooky–but it also totally obstructed any chance for the awesome views our guidebooks promised. Eventually, the fun of it sort of drifted away, and we couldn’t wait to get back to the town of Sintra.
Down in town, the weather was much less dreary. We wandered around the tiny, winding streets that reminded of us of Positano in Italy and popped into a port shop to have a shot of Ginjinha, a Portuguese liquer that is traditionally served in a dark chocolate shot glass (genius!). Then, after scooping up some souvenirs, we headed back to the train to return to Lisbon.
Stay tuned for the last Lisbon post–featuring my favorite travel activity: Vintage shopping 😉