We take off from ORY Paris Orly on easyJet 4275 at 4:35pm and land in FAO Faro Portuga at 6:15pm. We barely catch the last train to Lagos. We walk to Hotel Vila Galé Lagos $237. We have a tasty dinner in the hotel that includes grilled sea bass, shrimp ceviche, salad
We walk around Lagos, down to the and the scenic Praia da Marinha beach and then along the bluffs to the Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse. At one point we stop for lunch next to the sea bluffs at the simple yet hip O Camilo cafe and enjoy a phenomenal fish soup ever with salad. We walk back through the old town for dinner and find a popular spot with a menu in 5 languages (often a bad sign.) We order grilled cod which tastes excellent (contrary to the multilingual menu.)
We return to Lagos old town in the morning and walk around the coblestone alleyways. We visit a market where sardines, fish, squid and an array of other seafood are for sale. We take the Comboios de Portugal train to Lisbon $65. We check in to Hotel Lisboa, Rua Barata Salgueiro nº 5 1169-066 - $449/4 nights. We grab a snack at Restaurante Alfaia Garrafeira and order melted cheese with marmalade and white wine. In the evening we walk up to Bairro Altogrilled and try octopus and grilled sardine paired with Portugese green wine at Alfaia Restaurante.
It is raining in the morning so we visit the indoor Oceanário de Lisboa $31. The exhibits are sensational. In one area several happy sea otters swimming around while in another section penguins are dancing around. The crown jewel though is the massive aquarium held up by thick plexiglass where a universe of marine life swim around including massive fish, shares and turtles. The aquarium is located in the grounds of Parque das Nações, which was the host of the host of Expo ’98. There are some nice art sculputres and fountains on the grounds. We catch Tram 28 and ride aroudn the historic poart of town, the views are phenominal. We hop off and find a small cafe and order order grilled fish which is piled high with potato, brocolli, carrots and lemon. We wander around and find the hip SEA ME Peixaria Moderna and are lured in. We order octopus and try their healthy junta drink $41. The restaurant has an assortment of oysters for sale. We walk back in the rain to Hotel Lisboa.
After our hotel breakfast we walk down to Comércio Plaza and catch the 15E tram to the Belém to visit the Jerónimos Monastery and iconic Belém Tower $27. We return to central Lisbon and begin walking up alleys and stairs to São Jorge Castle $14. On the way we find a small cafe and try some incredible grilled sardines served with potatoes, olives and ironically a terrible salad. We finally make it to the castle for some incredible views over Lisbon and beyond. On the way down we find a small wine bar that sells vino verda for 1 euro per glass. We head back to SEA ME Peixaria Moderna for dinner and order fried salmon rolls with a dab of fresh cream cheese, ceviche salad with avo, more octopus and two Scottish scallops; we pair with an epic sangria $74. We then walk around the neighborhood and back to Hotel Lisboa.
We motivate early and catch the Linha de Sintra light rail to Sintra. We visit the Palácio Nacional (National Palace) and then climb up to the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle) for nice views. We find a small cafe for lunch, sit in the in an outdoor patio and enjoy a perfect salmon salad and grilled octopus. After lunch, Jen shops while I tour the Quinta da Regaleira (Regaleira Palace and Gardens). The tunnel complex and spiral inveted tower are outstanding. Unfortunately we do not have time to visit the Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace) so need to return at one point. We take the light rail back to Lisbon. For dinner we eat at A Baiuca in Alfama and share an outstanding monkfish stew with white wine. During dinner we experience fado vadio, which loosely translates as amateur, meaning anybody may get up and perform. You may find the waiter getting up to sing, perhaps the old widow sitting in the corner all dressed in black will remember past times through song, or a taxi driver may park his car in the nearby square just long enough to come in and let his lungs loose.
We tour Lisbon in the morning and I try the best Portuguese egg custard tart, which is slightly carmelized on top. These are similar to the egg custards they serve in China and Chinatowns all over the world. I realize the Portuguese must have brought these to Macau, where they spread to Hong Kong, then throughout mainland China and finally to the various Chinatowns throughout the world. Although the egg custards vary in quality from decently good to soggy and terrible in the Chinese bakeries around the world, none were ever as good as these I just found in Lisbon. I suggest you try them when here. We learn there is a train strike today so we board the Rede Expressos bus (viatura) 50A, seat (lugar) 45 for €16.70, and depat Lisbon at 3:00p. Upon arrival to Porto we navigate to the Eurostars das Artes hotel in the southern part of the Cedofeita district.
After a pleasant breakfast in the hotel we walk down the windy, coblestone streets of the Vitória district to Ribeira square in the São Nicolau district, along the banks of the scenic Douro river. Many port distilleries sit on the opposite side of the river and some restored port boats float in stills of the river. We have lunch at Dom Tonho along the riverside and order grilled durado with cauliflower and potatoes. After lunch we climb up on cross the magnificent Dom Luís I Bridge. The views are incredible and I take many photos. We tour the Offley port house and try a 10-year, 20-year and 30-year old red tawny. Why does it taste so good in Porto? We head back to Vitória and enjoy a fish dinner in a cafe nearby and check out the local nightlife. We then return to the Eurostars das Artes hotel to catch some zees.
After our nice hotel breakfast we head back down to the port house and visit the Kopke pouring room. They are extremely nice serve us a flight or port paired with chocolate. Apparently the server likes us and begins to pull out very old bottles of port for us to try. At one point we try a port from the 1960s; it is so smooth. Next we visit Calem tasting room and sip the Calem Special Reserve, Old Friends Ruby, Old Friends White, and another white port. We have never tried white port before and find it quite agreeable. We then visit Sandeman port house and tour the barrel cellar. We find the riverside Postigo do Carvão and have dinner before heading back to the Eurostars das Artes.
We take a taxi to OP Porto Francisco Sa Carneiro airport and board easyJet flight 3776. We take off at 10:40am and land in Paris at CDG Charles de Gaulle at 1:50pm. What an excellent trip to Portugal.