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Portugal!
Topic Started: Sun Jan 18, 2015 10:56 pm (2,426 Views)
mourinho
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The land of Camões, Ronaldo, pastéis de nata, bacalhau, azulejos... just... the BEST.
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mburucuja

All the Portugal love must have rubbed off on me, because I bought a ticket to Lisboa yesterday! I won't have a ton of time there, like 4.5 days, but what should I do?
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mourinho
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Hmm. You need to go to Pastéis de Belém, for sure. Belém in general seems to be one of the parts of the city with the most stuff to see. There's the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, which isn't thrilling in and of itself, but it gives you a pretty cool view when you get to the top. There's the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, which is pretty impressive. You can see it from the top of the Padrão, and then decide if you want to go in or not.

I'm going to ask my friends if they have any suggestions.
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mburucuja

I'm going to have about 5 days in Lisbon and I'm sure there's enough to do in Lisbon for that whole time, but are there any day trips/part day trips away from the city that you'd recommend?
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mourinho
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I'd probably recommend Sintra. I've actually never been there, but there are a lot of really interesting-seeming places there, and it's just about first on my list of what to see when I go back. There are also a lot of beaches just outside of Lisboa, if that interests you.

Personally I would recommend my first host city because I love it and it was actually pretty neat, but touristically speaking, it's probably not that appealing. My second host city, maybe. Alcobaça is maybe an hour, hour and a half out of Lisboa, accessible by bus. There's a monastery there, and a lot of doces conventuais...um... conventual sweets? Like the baked goods that nuns used to make in order to raise money. I think the spring is when they have tons of cherries in that area, along with some really gross cherry... alcohol of some kind. Brandy, maybe? And around Easter, there are almonds with all different flavors (including one filled with said nasty alcohol... what a horrible surprise that was). I don't think that's exclusive to Alcobaça, but my host family's bakery sold them. Right near Alcobaça is Nazaré, which, again, has a beach. I never went there in prime beach season, but it was a nice area.

Within an hour or two by bus of Lisboa, you have a lot of options, but I think Sintra might be a good starting point. There's also Cascais but I don't think that's actually all that interesting. Carcavelos has a nice, affordable hostel, though. I mean, there are nice, affordable hostels (pousadas de juventude) all over the country, but I've actually stayed at the one in Carcavelos.
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mburucuja

I'll be there the first week of April so I'm sure it'll be too cold to swim at a beach and I haven't owned a swimsuit since high school, but I'm sure they're still pretty. I guess a lot will depend on the weather...

Sintra looks beautiful! I'm not generally a huge cherry or almond fan, but I'll give them a try since I'm def not eating bacalhau and I should try something traditional besides pasteis de nata. :P
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mourinho
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Are you not into seafood at all? Because bacalhau is nasty plain, and most of the ways it's cooked, but my host mom makes...fritters, I guess we'd call them, that are really good, and I've seen them elsewhere as well. Also, rissóis de camarão. And bread.

April in Portugal is pretty warm...maybe not "get in the water" warm, but nice for a walk on the beach, anyway.

I'm not always into cherries, but yeah the ones I had in Alcobaça were delicious, and they have all kinds of other fresh fruits in the area, too...peaches and pears come to mind.

The thing that I really love about Portugal (okay, let's be real, it's one of a million) is that even the small towns are set up kind of like big cities in a way. Most of the stores have apartments over them (in Alcobaça and my first host city, at least) and there are some things open late (my host sister and I used to go to a coffee bar, which was awesome). Plus, the layout is great for walking. Alcobaça doesn't have much for transportation within the city, but it's very walkable so it works out. My first host city had great transportation within city limits as well (and you can even take a ferry to get from there to Lisboa and back, which I really liked, not sure if I mentioned that already or not, haha).
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mourinho
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Ok, I'm looking to see if I have any interesting photos to show you/encourage you to go to different places. First, here's one from my first host city.

Really though, I always felt completely safe just wandering around by myself, and I think the statistics back me up. Occasionally you'll come across a Romani person who wants to read your palms or something, but they're not scary or anything. Just salespeople.
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mburucuja

I'm not at all into seafood. I actually really, really hate it. Wisconsin isn't exactly full of quality seafood and it's super expensive so I never ate it growing up, and I just can't get past the smell!

I'm not at all worried about safety...if I can do the Americas without problems, I'd be shocked to feel unsafe in Portugal. I mean, the other place I shortlisted for this trip was Bogotá. I don't know anyone who has had issues traveling there either, but I'm sure the stats on Colombia are worse than Portugal!

Your first host city was Montijo, right?
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mourinho
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Oh yeah, I know you're not a nervous traveler, but yeah Portugal is just a really great country for wandering. Lots of fun stuff to discover, very safe, just...awesome.

And yeah, that was my first city. I just don't mention it very much because it's not a common host city so I'm basically the only one talking about how awesome it is, hahaha.
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