For three winter months, Jürgen and I lived in Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal. Over the course of 91 days, we visited Lisbon's museums and palaces, got lost in its labyrinthine ancient quarters, and sampled every bit of food and drink we could get our hands on. We've now collected our Lisbon experiences into an e-book travel guide, with all of our articles and over 240 full-color photographs, in one handy, portable edition. Amazon…
Another 91 days has come to an end. Another chapter in our lives, another city explored, documented, and lived in. In many ways, Lisbon was exactly what we thought it would be. In other ways, it took us totally off guard. For all its beauty, this is a city which was surprisingly hard to warm up to. And yet, it was just as hard to resist. We were leaving with both joy and melancholy in our hearts. And this felt appropriate for Lisbon: a city which frustrates and fascinates in equal measure.
I don't know if we've ever visited a city with as many incredible viewpoints as Lisbon. Regardless of where you are in the city, the nearest scenic overlook is almost certainly nearby... and just as certainly worth the effort of checking out. We've already written about many miradouros in other articles, but thought we'd sum up the spots we visited, whenever we needed to be reminded of Lisbon's beauty.
We had been to MegaJesus and walked through the town of Cacilhas, but otherwise hadn't explored the area across the Tagus from Lisbon. So on one of our final days in Portugal, we took the ferry from Belém to Trafaria, to check out the town and its Atlantic-facing beaches.
After having spent five days in Sintra, Jürgen and I had easily reached our palace quotient for the year... and it was still early January. But we couldn't possibly leave Lisbon without visiting the Palácio Nacional de Queluz, just fifteen kilometers outside the city.
Over the course of our 91 days in Lisbon, we ate out a lot. Probably way too much, if our pudgy post-Lisbon profiles were anything to judge by. But when the restaurants are this cheap, the food this good, and the supermarkets this crappy (ahem, Pingo Doce), what are we supposed to do? Cook carrots at home? Or go to our favorite tasca and order the full-size portion of beef, and a soup, and ... I know we shouldn't, but that dessert looks too delicious to pass up.
The westernmost point in continental Europe is the Cabo da Roca, part of the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais. We bundled up and headed to the point, joining a horde of wind-whipped tourists, all of us drawn inexplicably to the continent's terminal edge.
The "Initiatic Well" that symbolizes the connection between Heaven and Earth? A maze of subterranean paths called the "Labyrinthic Grotto"? The "Portal of the Guardians" which hides an entrance into the underground? A garden meant to reflect the Cosmos and the unending human search for paradise on earth, with symbolic nods to mythology, alchemy, masonic rites and Dante's Inferno? Stop, Quinta da Regaleira, just stop! You had us at "initiatic".
Hidden deep within the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, the Cork Convent, or Convento dos Capuchos dates from 1560. If you've ever wondered about the lifestyle of a 16th-century Franciscan mountain monk in Portugal, this is your big chance. And let's be honest, of course you have.
"Another day, another palace." This was our creed during our week-long stay in Sintra. Today, we'd be visiting the Palace of Monserrate, an eccentric estate constructed by a pair of wealthy Englishmen in the 18th and 19th centuries.