From Porto, I took the train down the Lisbon, but went directly to Sinta for the weekend. The town is 40 minutes outside the city center towards the coast. Very touristy place, but more space to hike around and see some palaces, castles, coasts, and beautiful homes. Rumor has it that Madonna just bought a place here, so how bad could it be?
Some bad news: I lost photos. I have no idea how. So there are no beach pictures and no pictures of Pena Palace or the Castle of the Moors. Or random pictures from the town. Sad, I know. Especially because Pena Palace was probably my favorite part of it.
I walked all the way up the hill and arrived just in time to see a relatively lengthy ticket line forming, so I figured I’d jump on. That’s one thing about walking all the way up – you feel like you’ve already bought in and it’s harder to turn around. But it was worth it. So here are a couple images I borrowed from the Internet of those things.
The gardens were just as impressive as the palace itself. Lots of places to wander around, and although it surely wasn’t as lush as it would be in the summer, it’s still a lovely place for a stroll. So stroll I did, and it included an overlook where you could look down the coast.
And then I walked over to the Castle of the Moors. It’s more like “walls of the moors”. Technically, castle I guess, and the walls are cool because they’re on the side of the mountain, but it’s mostly walls.
Not really sure why anyone would attack it either. It’s just sort of on the hill. Congratulations, you’ve conquered us, here are rocks.
So I did plenty of walking around here too. The main tourist center of the town had some nice bakeries, including Piriquita II, where I tried a chocolate pastel de nata, which was quite good. Here’s a couple pictures of some of the architecture in the actual town.
Stayed in a small hostel just outside town, which was pretty slow for this time of year. Plus, people mostly just do day trips from Lisbon. But I hung out with an English couple who had bought a van and were driving through Europe, and an Australian girl studying in Spain. Did all the sightseeing on my own though.
The other “must see” in the area is the Quinta da Regaleira, which is another palace with some nice gardens. Gardens aren’t as nice as the other place, but it’s pretty cool to see. The building is very unique, and the grounds have underground passageways you can go through from once section to another. These little towers also had sort of caves in them.
Here’s the underground spiral staircase. It’s pretty well hidden. I ended up walking around it about four times before actually finding it. Once at the bottom, you can walk under half the gardens towards the building, and go in a couple different directions.
Basically, the best place ever for a game of capture the flag or hide and seek.
When you come out of the underground passageway system, there are some fountains and little ponds where you have to hop on the rocks.
And then there is the actual palace. It’s pretty dope too.
Sintra has a big park in it and lots of giant, beautiful homes (works well since it’s only like 45 minutes from Lisbon). Pretty legit place to live. It’s near the coast, so you can also wander around mostly-private beaches and alcoves. It also has a falafel shop, which I went to.
After 3 days in Sintra, I headed into Lisbon. Which has like, 3 Starbucks!!! It also has cable cars, and I like cities with cable cars.
I liked Lisbon more than I expected, but it was very hilly. Like, very hilly. So many hills. My hostel was on a hill, so whenever I wanted to leave it, I had to walk up a big hill. The FitBit would get so many floors just by you simply existing.
Something enjoyable to do in Lisbon is really just walk through all those hilly streets. Here is some evidence that I actually did that.
I tried to go to the Aquarium, but the line was really, really long. But it’s supposed to be a great Aquarium, so if you go to Lisbon, go and then tell me how it is.
One night I walked around Pink Street, which is the main bar area, and I think during my 15 minute walk people tried to sell me drugs at least 15 times. Relentless salespeople like in Cartagena, except instead of clothes and drugs it was drugs and drugs.
Went to a brothel, Pensão Amor, while I was there too. Or it was a brothel, it’s a bar now. But there are still plenty of decorations and remnants from its shadier past.
And there was a girl in the hostel that needed to charge her crystals because it was a full moon, so I did that too. It was a little cloudy; I hope it still worked.
But then Web Summit convention was coming, and since everyone knows digital professionals are insufferable, I got out of town.
Which brings me to the Algarve Coast! Land of pretty, green water and quiet beaches. I decided to head to Lagos, which is a smaller, kind of surfer beach town. Much different than Lisbon. Shocker, I wandered around a lot here too.
I did quite a bit of work in the hostel, and by work I mean I mostly sat around and watched Chicago Fire because that’s what the girl working in the hostel was watching. But she’d have to do stuff and leave, then rewind it, so I had to watch the same fires over and over again. But I had trouble connecting emotionally with the show since I don’t really know anything about Chicago and didn’t really care when it caught on fire.
But anyways, there was a nice group of people at the hostel. Mostly Aussies. We went on a kayaking tour one morning, diving in and out of the rocky caves along the coastline. My kayak partner was a giant Scandinavian man whose bloodline seemed to miss the evolution memo around the time of the Woolly Mammoth. He also played the Ukelele and had some really questionable song choices.
I did not take any pictures of this, because I had packed my phone away and did not want to ruin it.
And then it was time to go. Which was just as well, because the pretty blonde girl in Chicago Fire died.
So back to Espania I went. Seville, to be specific. It had a really nice smaller city vibe. Touristy of course, but pretty, and had that calming but energetic Spanish charm. But I still didn’t eat an tapas.
The highlights were the cathedral and the plaza gardens. Not even really sure what was in this building, but I really liked all the fountains and architecture.
Anyways, I liked that thing. I didn’t take pictures of the gardens though, I guess.
I peeked in the giant cathedral too, but here’s a poorly taken picture of the outside of it. Just Google it or something. Or just enjoy my picture with a giant lamppost and bushes in it.
But Seville is a lovely city – I could spend more time there. Has a nice Starbucks to work in too. And it’s that Pumpkin Spice time of year, so I treated myself to a black coffee like usual because that fancy stuff is for the birds.
My last stop before leaving the continent was Tarifa, Spain. Hadn’t looked into it much, but it’s another beach town on the southern tip of Spain. Famous for kite surfing, whatever the hell that is.
It also had a fairly active digital nomad community, which was predominately comprised of programmers according to a designer I met in the hostel. The town was fairly quiet this time of year, but I did a sunset walk along the beach and went for a drink with the people from the hostel. I’m headed to Morocco after all, where they don’t do a whole lot of drinking.
After a night in Tarifa, I caught the ferry to Tangier, Morocco. First time in Africa – I hope I don’t get attacked by a Giraffe.