What happened in Portugal, post-Masego?
The morning after Masego, I got up early for my day trip to Sintra which was a 40 min train ride away. I got off the train a stop early and the next train wasn’t for another 30 mins ?. Now if I was travelling with someone, no doubt I would have booked an Uber to get to our destination quicker. But why the rush? I literally had the WHOLE day! I found a local bus stop and took a less scenic, winding route to the centre of Sintra.
I stopped for breakfast at Cafe Saudade and had their namesake coffee which is layers of condensed milk, coffee and foam, plus Sintra’s well known pastry: travasseiro.
I plugged in my gospel playlist and did some journaling (in my Hyphen London notebook, of course!) before heading to Quinta da Regaleira, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Sintra; and Pena Palace. I passed this picturesque waterfall on the way.
TOP TIP: Offer to take photos of others. Take more than one and different angles, so when you ask them to take yours they do the same and you have options! Also, look for someone with a DSLR camera to take photos of you (on your camera/phone)as they are 99% likely to get you a great shot for the gram!
The Quinta gardens were a magnificent maze of wells, waterfalls and willows. I can only imagine how much more amazing it would look in the summer. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see Pena Palace in it’s full Disneyland glory ? (see collage image, bottom left – no filter applied!).
TOP TIP: buy a tripod on Amazon and set the timer on your phone camera to capture full length shots like in the collage (bottom left)
Arriving back in Lisbon, I headed to a Peruvian restaurant I had seen over and over again in TimeOut and on Trip Advisor: A Cevicheria. I sat at the chef’s table and thoroughly enjoyed the white fish ceviche, BBQ Octopus and the best pisco sour I’ve ever had. I did have dessert, but it was so good I forgot to take a photo!
No European Trip is complete without a sports bar! So I headed to The Couch for an evening of football and free-flowing drinks; alongside an American (Lance, see previous post), a Scot, a Spaniard, a local Portuguese guy and a lady from London! PG (I can’t remember the Portuguese guy’s name ??♀️) took us to the seafood restaurant: A Marisqueira do Lis where I had my second dinner: garlic prawns, the best “prego” in Lisbon (steak sandwich) and beer! We all then had an adventurous night out at Casa Independente.
On my last day in Lisbon, I checked out of my AirBnb early and headed to Belém and took the electric tram to Pasteis de Belém for breakfast. The famous Portuguese custard tarts here, Pastéis de Nata, were divine! As was my macchiato (that goes for all Portuguese coffee I had!)
TOP TIP: “find a luggage locker in the city to drop off your suitcase and go explore!” – Life with Lea, check out Lea’s other solo travel tips.
As I left for Jerónimos Monastery & Belem Tower, the heavens opened! For the sights I saw in Sintra I was able to pre-book my tickets online, however there wasn’t an option to do this for the Monastery, so I had to queue for tickets and entry in the rain. Luckily, I had picked up a travel size umbrella before my flight out ??.
The architecture in the monastery was beautiful & detailed and it also provided me an opportunity to read about Portugal’s history. After, I trudged in the rain to Belém Tower known for it’s fab views of Portugal’s southside. The pouring rain, cloudy sky and crashing waves around the tower was a Michael Kyle “ehhh nah!” from me to go in and up the tower, so I headed back the city centre for my last supper and suitcase.
At Le Chat, and on my waitress’s advice, I enjoyed their beef picapau to start and their famous codfish for my main – alongside some green wine! The confit codfish was melt-in-the-mouth! If I didn’t have a flight to catch I would have ordered another!
I left Lisbon with wet feet, a full stomach and a dream to visit again (in sunnier climates!). Would I recommend Lisbon for solo travel? Most definitely! The food is fantastic, the sights are superb and the people are pleasant. Plus, you won’t need to do leg day in the gym for a week as it is very hilly! ?
Have you travelled solo before? Or are you thinking about your first solo travel trip? Let me know in the comments below.