bookstore

Perfectly peaceful Porto…

I’ve been to Porto a few times before, so this trip I simply wanted to chill out and enjoy the various neighbourhoods of Porto. Nevertheless, there was one thing on my list that I simply had to see: The Lello & Irmão Bookstore! Seeing as though I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, I just had to see it. BOY WAS IT AWESOME! The only thing was that there were too many people in here, this was all the time… Our Airbnb was close by, so we’d always have to go past the book store when going into town, we’d peek inside to see if it was full, sometimes we wouldn’t even have to peek given the huge line out front… In any case, it was still awesome – you should definitely check it out!

We hung out along the river Douro quite alot, and the night shots are taken on the city side of the river. On one of the days that we were just walking around, we crossed the Ponte Luis I bridge and there was a young man preparing to jump off the bridge and into the water. He was gathering a crowd before doing so…. he was fine. We then crossed the bridge and saw a whole bunch of people jumping into the water (disclaimer it was boiling hot!!). There was even a group of men dressed up in weird outfits, continuously jumping into the water – it was actually quite funny!

We stayed in an Airbnb on Rua de Cedofeita, our hosts were really nice and the apartment itself was bright and spacious. Great location as it was where the locals mainly lived, so there was also local bakeries and grocery stores. The end of the street towards the city was pedestrianised and was a shopping street.

In terms of food, we found amazing restaurants on Rua das Taipas. The first one we discovered was called Tia Orlanda, which was food from Mozambique. The staff were amazing and the restaurant was VERY FULL! it seemed as though alot of people had booked prior to coming for dinner, we were lucky that there was one table for two. The food was simply amazing, plus it was cheap! The second place we discovered was at the bottom of the street (I can’t recall the name) but we had fish and rice – was amazing! We sat at the back, outside, where we had a view of Porto – truly amazing! I would definitely recommend exploring this street as the restaurants were cheap yet also really good!

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Lovely Lively Lisbon

A friend that I met on the G Adventures tour in Peru moved to Lisbon.  So together with another friend that I met on the tour in Peru, we travelled to meet up and unofficially celebrate our 6 month anniversary (we didn’t realise this till we were all sitting around and playing the card game “shit head” – as it reminded us of Peru!)

We stayed in the neighbourhood of Saldanha – which is a more residential area. Getting here from the airport is super easy and cheap. We used the metro which only cost us €1.90! Note: taxis are also relatively cheap compared to other cities… We stayed in an apartment from airbnb.com and it was absolutely fantastic! Our host was lovely and showed us around the apartment. Just down the road from where we were staying, there was a cycling cafe called Velocite Cafe, the staff were very friendly and the cafe itself was very tastefully decorated (as a cyclist from Cambridge, I can appreciate pretty bicycles)

We were quite lucky to have a friend who was a local – it’s much nicer seeing a city through a locals eyes…. We had dinner and I ofcourse went for something that had Bacalhau (salted cod fish), so I had the Bacalhau lasagna – YUM!

Over the next few days we explored downtown Lisbon – Commercio Square was very grand and you get a nice view of the bridge (25 Abril) from here. Yes it’s the bridge that looks like the one in San Francisco. AND my friends actually told me that it used to be named after a dictator but now the name changed to 25 Abril to mark the revolution (now thats some trivia for you!).

My friends and I have very VERY sweet tooths – so we mostly ate our way through the city! There is a place called LX Factory (X is pronounced as “sheesh” in Portuguese) which is an old manufacturing district that has been transformed into a hispter place full of design, cafes, restaurants and book stores. We had the worlds BEST chocolate cake here – believe it or not the cafe ONLY sells this cake! it was yummylicious!!! The place is called Landeau Chocolate  trust me you won’t be disappointed. The LX Factory also has an awesome book store – the interior design is AMAZING! I think I saw that it was one of the most beautiful book stores in the world (or something like that). It’s definitely worth a visit, it’s called Ler Devagar.

Our friend also took us to Mercado de Ribeira which is basically a foodie heaven! We obviously went for something sweet… I had a divine caramel cake from Nos E Mais Bolos – oh so good! But they have other stuff here, as in really good food and coffee!

Besides eating, we did see other cultural aspects of Lisbon… We went to Sintra, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t so good and it was all foggy. We didn’t see the amazing view atop the mountain – we could barely see the exterior of the castle! We also went to Gulbenkian Museum – which was only a short walk from our apartment. We actually went on a Sunday – free admission YEH! The museum had alot of painted tiles, ornaments, rugs and clothing from the Ottoman Empire. But there were also artworks from Monet and Renoir – among other artists whom I can’t recall… It’s worth visiting on a Sunday if the weather is poor…

The city has also an aqueduct – which I simply didn’t know how to capture, it’s so grand! There is an elevator in the city (grey tower like structure) we didn’t go up, because there are other nicer view points, plus the line was really long and you had to pay for it! Instead we went up to the fortress – didn’t do inside but the streets were nice and the view is also nice from here. We explored the Parque das Nacoes area and coincidentally there was a triathlon that day! There is also a very very long bridge around here called the Ponte Vasco da Gama – it’s 17km long!

Definitely recommend visiting Lisbon – the city has a lot to do and it is very easy to get around: the metro system works well and takes you to all the major places downtown and it’s relatively cheap.

BIG SHOUT OUT to my friend Claudia for showing us around – Lisbon was a great experience with you! Alex thanks for being a chillaxed and great travel buddy – till the next adventure!