The Adventures of Portugal

I feel like the trip to Portugal was 5 years in the making.

You see, when Morgs and I spent just under 5 months travelling Europe back in 2012, we had it on our list of places to visit but fate ended up keeping us from it. Whilst in Spain we got an email from the airline at the time letting us know the flight we had booked to Porto was cancelled, but they could put us on another flight to … somewhere North in Spain (so random, thanks for the consolation prize airline but no thanks). We tried to then re book other ways in to Portugal but it was really expensive or was a full day of travel (2 things us back packers weren’t keen on) so we ended up decided to just stay in Spain the extra few days and explored Madrid instead.

So whilst booking our month away this time, knowing 2 of the weeks would be spent in Europe, Portugal was quite literally at the very top of our list.

And oh me, oh my – it truly and wonderfully did exceed every single one of our big and beautiful expectations.

{ People watching our first morning in Lisbon. One of our favourite past times to do in Europe }

We had 7 days to explore whatever parts of Portugal we wanted and we actually spent quite a lot of time looking in to areas to know where we’d most like to go, and that’s how we ended up booking 4 nights in Lisbon and 3 nights in Porto – and if doing it again, I would do it the exact same.

We could have added in an extra town in – say, Lagos, but we actually wanted to ‘settle’ in the city, and I am so glad we decided to just do 2 cities in the 7 days as we really got to just see it at our own pace in our own way, the best way and the only way we know how to travel.

Landing in Lisbon the evening of our first night we didn’t get to see any of the city other than what we saw whizzing by us in the Uber to our apartment but we kept saying to each other from what we did see “ohhhh we are so going to like this city” and I almost think waking up the next day to explore it brand new was a bonus gift from the universe.

Whenever and wherever possible when we travel, Morgs & I will always opt for an Airbnb (we book the whole house / apartment however) over a hotel, and for a good few reasons.

  1. Hotel rooms feel stuffy and clinical to us. We want to be and feel like a local, with the hosts art on the walls and their books in their bookshelf, if I am in a brand new city around the globe I want to see and feel how they live, not be in a 4 walled hotel room with room service at the other end of the phone.
  2. We love having a kitchen to cook in if we need / want and washing machine to do our washing! You can’t beat those home’ly feels when you’re missing your own creature comforts.
  3. You get to stay in cooler areas than most Hotels are situated. Case in point, the air bnb we stayed at in Lisbon. When we looked at what area to stay in the Alfama area was one of the top areas to ‘visit’ and explore – so we knew that’s where we wanted to stay, problem was, there wasn’t many if any hotels in that area – they were all more in the popular tourist area of the central city. Finding our Airbnb rightttttt in the heart of Alfama is what made our stay feel all the more special. We were amongst the locals, drank our coffee with them in the morning, and got the history of the area from our host when we arrived.
  4. You have the hosts local knowledge to give you all the restaurants and places that not all tourists know of and aren’t on Trip Advisor. Of course you can get this at a hotel with the concierge as well but I have always found they still lead you to the main tourist places.

So there we were, in our groovy and home’ly Airbnb right in the heart of Alfama and the first morning, walking up the first of what felt like a thousand hills we’d walk, we sat and drank coffee with the locals as we soaked up the fact we were back in Europe, and were in a city we had wanted to visit for years.

Knowing we had 4 days – or 3 ½  full days allowed us to not feel rushed to go see everything as fast as possible and so day 1 we just said we would have no maps and walk, just see where the city took us and what adventures came from it, and as fate alwayssss has it, we actually ended up stumbling across almost all of the top things ‘ to do’ on that faithful trip advisor list, without meaning to of course.

One of the best things I think I did though for the consequent days was stay OFF trip advisor and use our hosts local knowledge  and Pinterest! But what do you MEANNN Pinterest I hear you ask.

Before I left I had been on Pinterest pinning pins for each city we were visiting, Portugal and Marrakech (& even London). I am, I think we all are, visual people, and I don’t want to just read about places, I want to SEE what they’re like and Pinterest is the best for that. I pinned stunning things and places to see and eat and each picture on pinterest generally is linked back to a site, and in travel pictures, they’re generally linked back to Travellers blogs, and Travellers blogs are what I want to read! They’ve walked and travelled the path I generally want to also.

So our whole Portugal trip just felt like a Pinterest vision board coming to life.

Here is the thing about that though – because of Pinterest and all of the beautiful pictures and all of the amazing advice I read off of those travel blogs sites (not just trip advisor) I wanted to honour the NEXT traveller to Portugal and write up my own ‘version of events’ – give a list to future travellers of where we went, what we saw and how we managed to see so much of beautiful Lisbon and Porto in 7 days.

So our journey dear reader ends here, and over the next 2 blog posts I am going to actually list out where we went and what we saw (and tours and places we did) in the humble hope that one day my own words and way we explored Portugal inspires another travellers adventures.

Tchau (goodbye) for now – and read on in the next 2 blog posts to cover off our full adventure.

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