Edit Blog Post
Published: June 21st 2013
It was a trip that almost escaped my clutches. Portugal was supposedly in the initial plans of the Iberian peninsular trip, together with Andalucía. However, the former was ditched, as the time I had was barely enough to hit the places I really wanted to visit in Spain. I wasn’t too bothered, being adamant on returning to this part of Europe within my 6 months’ stay. Close to 3 months later, I did return, and so glad I was. Together with Eepin and Alvin, we arrived in the sunny Mediterranean land; and perhaps created much more memories than if I would to come alone.
While the history of Portugal was fascinating (with Lisbon being the oldest city in Western Europe), we were looking forward to basking in the sun by the beaches in the Algarve, strolling along the cobbled Lisbon alleys and trying our hands on surfing by the seaside. The weather was perfectly bright for such. So, after a short stopover in Faro, we took a train up to Lisbon and instantly got a taste of the undulating urban terrain of the capital city. Our hostel was up the hill where the trademark yellow tram plies its
trade. Situated in the neighborhood of Bairro Alto and in close proximity to Chiado, it was a prime location for us to explore the city by foot.
Just after half an hour of leisure walking on the streets and soaking in the Lisbon atmosphere, it was safe to say that we were already falling in love with the city! Beautiful streets and winding alleys flanked by shop houses couples the intriguing mix of different architecture in the various districts. From the bustling Bairro Alto to the trendy Chiado, the amazing Alfama to the picturesque Belem, each neighborhood strikes its own unique character. It was no wonder exploration in the city seems so refreshing and rewarding. Alfama, touted as a photographer’s dream, was my favorite. Being the oldest section in the city, Moorish architecture is plentiful here, with houses colorfully decorated, often with arched windows. The atmospheric walk through the tight labyrinthine streets on the walking tour gave us an appreciation of its early times and it is definitely one of the best immersions into Lisbon’s earliest history and culture.
Another thing I love about the city was the reward of amazing panoramic views after
surmounting the hills. We initially went to viewpoint Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara in Bairro Alto where a splendid view of the city could be captured. In the evening, the viewing gallery atop Santa Justa Elevator offered magnificent view of the Castle of Sao Jorge with the sun residing in the backdrop. The third one was at Miradouro de Santa Luzia in Alfama, which provided a stellar panorama of the Tagus river and the city by the riverside. Each spot is unique and captures Lisbon in a different light from the rest.
After 2 days (which was not enough in my biased opinion), we headed for the seaside with Epic surf school. It was our first time doing surfing and it was definitely lots of fun! Thanks to the patient guidance of our friend and coach Rui, we managed to grasp the basics of the sport, albeit some initial difficulties. After riding plenty of waves with our bodies and then by lying flat on our surfboards, Rui wasn’t really expecting us to be able to actually surf, like standing up on the boards. It wasn’t common for first-timers (or so we would choose to think!) so
we didn’t think too much about it as well. We were pretty happy at our current progress, though still quietly eager to give standing on the surfboards a shot. Eventually, after ample practices on land, we headed for the seas again. Watch the waves; turn the surfboard; get onto it; feel the waves; do a push up and bam; balance both legs on the surfboard, keeping a low centre of gravity. We did it! Even if it was for a mere few seconds, it was more than satisfying! It does give us much more impetus to forget about the tiredness in our bodies and catch the waves in a more motivated fashion. In that half hour that follows, we tried to catch as many waves as we could before time and energy runs out. Surfboarding, checked! We caught the seagulls embrace the shores and had some escargots for snacks before heading back to the city. A very fulfilling day out in the sun.
After another wonderful day trip out to Sintra, just an hour away by train, we headed off for the Algarve. While we thought Sintra had incredibly scenic views, with intricate Moorish architecture and the
seemingly endless hilltop walls, we were completely taken away by the landscape in Lagos. (Not taking anything away from Sintra because it is very much a great place to visit!)
It was the highlight of our trip as we were very much looking forward to wearing our board shorts walking by the beach and basking in Mediterranean sun. Lagos offered that and more. The beaches were lovely, with spectacular cliffs providing a backdrop to the impeccable landscape. Coupling that with the clear emerald green waters that changes color with the location of the beaches, we were simply in awe at what we saw. Kayaking into the seas offered panoramic views of the shorelines. It brought us to isolated beaches, towering cliffs and hidden caves that Mother Nature so beautifully created. It was simply amazing. We took little time getting acquainted to the local’s lifestyle as we got some sun block and spent a good afternoon relaxing at the beach, admiring what’s around us. It was by far, the most uniquely different experience thus far. And we were in love with it.
Looking back at what I saw, it was definitely apt to call it
a Portugese Paradise.
Tot: 0.099s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 15; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0154s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.3mb