Stayed: At Friends Homes Duration: 4 Full days
When: First week in December Good For: Everything
School has been a total headache. Between group projects, papers and homework (yes homework in Grad school), I haven’t been able to explore Europe this past month as I have the months prior. It’s been great though because I’ve been able to explore more of the little things Barcelona has to offer. Before final’s start I needed a little break, a trip, something to keep my sanity. So I chose Portugal, directly next to Spain, cheap flights, I’ve never been, and I had met people from there/ living there when I went to Zurich who I still kept in contact with.
In Lisbon (or Lisboa), I stayed in the city with a friend right off of the São Sebastião metro stop. It was a direct train ride from the airport, they have a pretty efficient metro line connected to the airport which I appreciate. The area was about a 20minute walk into the city-center and about a 15minute drive to the “Torre de Belém“. It was explained to me that everything is about 20minutes away from everything else. The metro trains come about every 8minutes, and are €1.40 per way.
Right from the airport to touring around, Lisbon was already proving
to be a much more diverse city than I had expected and I loved it. We walked to Miradouro S. Pedro de Alcântara (which i’ll touch on later) and it was really nice, even got to witness students from the Universities doing a sort of Hazing ritual. Apparently they got into some trouble for it some years ago so it’s a lot more tamed. What I saw was a group of them basically having loud sing offs with lots of liquor. I also found it quite lovely that the attire for school were extremely similar to that of Harry Potter, which I then learned was because Hogwarts attire was based on their outfits.
From Lisbon we drove about 3.5hours to Porto. Literally from the bottom of the country to the (close) top. To measure to size, thats a shorter distance than Maryland to NYC; or closer North New Jersey to Connecticut.
In Porto (or Oporto), we stayed at another friends home right outside the city (about 15/20minute drive) in a town called Valongo. It was a very quiet area very residential. The actual city of Porto was beautiful, in a much more charming way than Lisbon had been. I was told it’s because Lisbon had re-built the city after an earthquake and made it more modern, whereas Porto has stayed generally the same throughout the years.
Language, obviously they speak Portuguese. But Portuguese sounds very similar to Spanish. So although I wasn’t able to understand most of what they said I was able to pick apart a general idea of what the topic of conversation was, and if I spoke in Spanish I was understood easily. They get a little touchy if you tell them native Spanish speakers cant understand Portuguese, they insist the Spanish just don’t try, but I’m sure that has to do with a long history of the two countries rivalry.
OH MY GOSH THE FOOD
Like I don’t even know where to start with the food, everything was orgasmic. EVERYTHING. And they just kept feeding me. First and foremost, everything was very in-expensive. We went for breakfast one morning in Porto, I felt like we ordered the whole menu, me personal, I got soup, 4 different meat pastries (like empanadas/patties), and a huge donut filled with custard they call a Malasadas, all of this cost me less than €5.
They LOVE Bacalhau (codfish). So many dishes are made out of it, they sell them by the whole in supermarkets, it’s a staple to many dishes. If you go to Portugal and don’t have any then you didn’t eat correctly. At least get a pasteis de bacalhau. They’re also very big on meat, lots and lots of meat. They have a very traditional dish called Francesinhav, which I joked about the whole weekend is just a “meat pie”. We went to a restaurant called Capa Negra II where they are said to make the best of it.They also have killer soups, one in particular which is typical of there is caldo verde.
Their pastries are in a category in themselves I could probably write a whole post about their pastries. They have as many pastry shops as America has 7/11’s I swear. But they’re pieces are AMAZING.
If ever in Lisbon make sure you get a Pastel de Belem from “Pasteis de Belem“, yes you’ll see other places selling pastel de belem, or pastel de nata everywhere. But this place has the best ones hands down I promise. There’s a difference, and your tastebuds will know.
The Club Scene
Can I start this section off by saying I was really drunk.. like 100% of the time we were out. Sooo My recollection of where exactly we went is going to be based on my instagram post and where I tagged.
In both Lisbon and Porto what seemed to be the bigger theme in going out was bar hopping. Or strips of streets with bars/lounges/clubs next to each other. They did have bigger clubs that played house music, but by the time we were going to go to those, at least in Porto half of the group was wasted. In Lisbon we started at a little bar on a strip of other bars, that sold €1 pint beers, took that walked around popped our head into some other bars. Mostly drinking in the street. After bar hopping a bit we ended up at a small club that I cannot recall name. Ladies free entry Men €5 including 2/3 beers (it’s very rare at places out here generally that you’ll pay a cover and not get a free drink). It was cool, drum and base night though, so some weirdos but it worked.. till we finished the beers at least.
In Porto we started at Confeitaria Tamisa, which is a nice little restaurant that has extremely cheaply priced food, pastries, and drinks. We used this place to pre-game. Then headed towards the Rua da Galeria de Paris, which is a strip of bars and clubs. We stopped in a few places, but they were a bit pricey so we walked over to a parallel street named Rua de Candido dos Reis, another strip of bars and clubs that had a cheaper bar to just drink at. We finally stuck to Rendez Vous Club typically an electric rock place but ended up being pretty diverse in it’s music selection.
All in all, I had a great time in both places, the nightlife is very alive. I’d like to go back though and explore the other clubs more.
In Lisbon, the first stop we were off to was to was the Torre Belem area. There we saw the Torre Belem, the Monastery of Jeronimos, and the Padrao dos Descobrimentos. Unfortunately when I went the Padrao was under construction so I couldn’t relish in it’s complete beauty but nonetheless it was a sight to see. Standing in front of it you’re standing on a compass drawing with many dimensions which is worth the sight. The good thing is these things are all within a very short walking distance of each other (and near that pastel shop i told you about earlier). They’re a bit outside of the center city but worth the short travel. From the center city we did walk up to Miradouro S. Pedro de Alcântara for what seemed to be a small market happening. I bought some scarves and mulled wine (my fav). The views you’ll get from this spot are spectacular you can see across the whole city of Lisbon.
In Porto the bigger of the places I was taken to was the Palacio Cristal, a beautiful place that apparently holds sport on the insides during normal days and on the outside is a Garden with many lookout points to the Durou River. I also was taken to the Dom Luis Bridge that over looked both sides of the Durou River. I then went to see Clérigos Church, The Porto Cathedral, and The Livraria Lello (the amazing bookstore).
Thank you so much Bert and Anna, I had an amazing time thanks to you both.