A December 2005 trip
to Portugal by beautysan
Quote: I went on a whirlwind tour of Portugal, covering most of the major sights, from Duoro Valley down to Lisbon, in only 5 days! It was exhausting rushing through all the interesting sights, but I did bring back fond memories of lovely Portugal that will stay with me forever.
Sintra is also a highlight. I especially enjoyed the Moorish castle in Sintra, of which most guidebooks did not elaborate much on. It was pretty quiet at the castle, maybe because of the vastness of the site. Climb to the top of the castle, where you can see the famous Palacio Pena on the other peak of the hill and have a bird's eye view of the valley below.
Another must-try in Portugal is the tasty custard tart from Pastry de Belem. It's the best egg tart I have ever had in my entire life!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 22, 2006
Rua Sá da Bandeira, 21
+351 (2) 2003012
Hotel | "Pensao Praca da Figuera"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 26, 2006
PENSÃO PRAÇA DA FIGUEIRA
Travessa Nova De São Domingos 9
Lisbon, Portugal 1100-372
Restaurant | "Flor Dos Congregados"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 22, 2006
Restaurante Flor Dos Congregados
Travessa Dos Congregados 11
St. Benedict, Portugal
222 002 822
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 21, 2006
Train ride through Duoro Valley
Porto to Pocinho
Our first stop was Obidos.This walled city was the wedding gift for the queen. It is also known for its whitewashed houses with yellow and blue stripes. Good place for leisure shopping. Next we went to Alcabaca, the largest cathedral in Portugal, with a tragic love story behind. The tombs in this cathedral, belonging to King Pedro I and his beloved mistress who was murdered, were intricately crafted and known to be the finest tomb in Europe. We continued our journey to Batalha, a fine cathedral with a combination of Gothic and Manueline architecture. In this cathedral lies many famous historic personalities, including Prince Henry the Navigator.
We then stopped for lunch at Nazare. Our next destination was Fatima, the famous pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics. From Fatima, I left the tour and took a bus to Porto. (Cityrama tour actually starts in Lisbon and ends in Lisbon.) It was not a very satisfying trip for me. I felt that the tour was a bit overpriced, as the entrance fee was not included (only Batalha requires an entrance fee into the unfinished altar section). The trip only provided the convenience of whirlwinding through these three major sights in Portugal in the comfort of a van in a very short period of time. Anyway,maybe I am just not the type who go for guided tours. I felt that there was not enough time for me to wonder around in each and every sight. I would not recommend this tour to anyone who likes to spend their own sweet time wondering around.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 23, 2006
I only had very limited time for Lisbon in my short whirlwind tour of Portugal. Therefore I can only afford to cover the very major sights. I took an early train to Lisbon from Porto, arriving just before noon. The 3-hour, 45-minute train journey has not much scenery to offer, so bring a book to read. After the boring train ride, I was fully ready for some excitement. I immediately hopped on to a tram to Belem. The most popular sights in Lisbon are mostly in Belem. So if you have limited time in Lisbon, make sure you spend at least half a day in Belem.
Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos, the must-see in Belem, stands majestically overlooking the river Tejo. It was built as a memorial for Prince Henry the navigator and Vasco da Gama's great seafaring discoveries. The impressive main church contains da Gama's body and the even more impressive cloister has very detailed Manueline workmanship. By the river are the famous landmark of Lisbon - Monument of Discovery and the Torre de Belem. The monument of Discovery is especially photogenic during sunset and at night, where its reflection can be seen on the pond nearby. About 10-minute walk down the road stood the Torre de Belem, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I took a very crowded tram ride back to Baixa and walked around restauradores area to look for a good restaurant that serves peri-peri chicken. However, I discovered the Elevador da Gloria instead.
It was actually an ancient tram up the steep hill to the viewpoint, where we could have a spectacular view of Lisbon. After dinner, I walked around the shopping streets, soaking in the Chrismas spirit in the air. Elevador de Santa Justa was my next destination. This elevator served no purpose except for bringing visitors up to a height of around six floors to have a birds-eye view of the city. Expect a long queue for the elevator. To me, this is quite a "been-there, done-that" site.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 31, 2006
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 31, 2006
Bacalhau (dried cod), crispy pork, cow tripes, pig ears, Portugese custard tart etc... and the list goes on. That is the local delicacy of Portugal. I tried the cow tripe in Porto, cooked in a stew with beans. The texture might be a little odd for those who are not used to it. But to me, I think the Chinese way of cooking tripe is better. Legend has it that there are 365 ways of cooking Bacalhau, one for each day of the year of course. The salted dried cod is an acquired taste. I did not really enjoy it when it is cooked in whole. It was a bit too salty for me. In my opinion, Bacalhau tastes best when minced and used as a stuffing in fried snacks.
I tried the pig ears in Cafe Restaurant Lagoa in Vila Nova De Foz Coa. This is the only restaurant close to the bus station in this small town. This is a tapas style cold dish. The pig ears were boiled, and then soaked in olive oil with herbs—a refreshing way of cooking pig ears. And last but not least, the divine custard tart of Belem at Pastry de Belem. This is the best custard tart I've ever tasted in my entire life! The pastry is crispy with a little bit of salt (like curry puff pastry), and the custard inside was melt-in-your-mouth delicious! The queue to this cafe, which is close to Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos, is always long. You could stand at the counter to eat the tarts while it's still hot, top with cinnamon powder and icing sugar, and you would taste heaven. Having to try this custard tart already justified my trip to Portugal, seriously.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia