Our summer travel to Portugal and Spain had been in the works for over a year, so when we touched down in Lisbon, after 30 hours of travel, Scott and I were beyond excited. Portugal has always been on our bucket list. We were enamored with visions of colorful tile roofs, pastel buildings, old school trams, and vibrant bougainvillea brightening the neighborhoods, all enhanced by city and sea views.
As the taxi pulled up in front of our hotel, the CS Vintage Lisboa, I knew we had landed in the right place. We were warmly welcomed by Ines and the team at this sleek, hip hotel in the center of Lisbon. Despite Scott’s crash course in Portuguese on the plane (while I was glued to ‘Orange is the New Black’), we found English speakers to be very common in Portugal. From our first trip to the Veranda Do Castello at the rooftop terrace of our hotel, Nuno treated us to a refreshing variety of sangrias, tapas, expansive city views and great laughs.
After a good night’s sleep, day two found us eager to start exploring this picturesque city. We strolled through charming neighborhoods near our hotel, filled with cafes, boutiques, flower shops and charming parks where locals gathered.
On the advice from our concierge we made our way to a hilltop park, Jardim Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, with incredible city views. We settled in at the cafe for lunch and enjoyed the people watching, city views, fresh fare and more sangria.
Next stop, we chose to take the iconic, graffiti-covered tram down the hillside to Avenida da Liberdade, with luxury shopping and wide, tree-lined streets. Graffiti is everywhere in Lisbon.
With luxury boutiques and pop-up markets, we found a variety of shopping options in Lisbon. Boutiques generally take credit cards but for other vendors and most taxis you will need cash.
Shopping and gathering colorful inspirations for my here.
Here’s where our tale takes a brief but costly turn. Scott picked up cash so that I could do some shopping and we could take a taxi back to the hotel. We bought some sweet gelato from this darling girl, and boarded the ‘now we know’ notorious Tram 28, to take in scenes of the old town. Read my account of what happened next on Tripadvisor here. In the end, Scott discovered that within 25 minutes of his wallet being lifted over $2000.00 had been charged to his visa/debit cards at perfume stores in the area. I’m not suggesting not to ever take a Tram, but we wish we had been more aware of the theft issue. In all big cities and tourist areas pick pocketing happens so simply be prepared. Thankfully, Visa graciously refunded all of the charges and shipped us new cards within two days.
Scott’s advice: Carry minimal cash, carry only 1 credit card at a time, keep your wallet in your front pocket with your hand on it.
My advice: consider a waist belt that you wear under your clothes for cash, credit and passports.
Despite the inconvenience, and lost time making a police report, we got back on track in time to enjoy dinner at Povo on the famous ‘Pink Street’ in Cais do Sodre, a former red light district turned trendy night spot.
We enjoyed delicious dishes, plentiful wines, and Paula took excellent care of us. Povo is also a perfect place to listen to the local Fado music in a non-touristy environment.
We were up bright and early, fueled with cafe com leite, said goodbye to the wonderful staff at CS Vintage Lisboa, and headed to Sintra, the famed summer vacation palaces of royalty, only 20 minutes away.
We felt as though we were transported to another place in time in Sintra. Even the climate was dramatically different with undulating clouds, verdant pinnacles and lush foliage. There are number of medieval and Moorish palaces in this magical hilltop enclave. In these photos we were at the Seteais Palace viewing the Pena Palace on the pinnacles. Despite the weekend crowds this is a fascinating place to visit.
For the next leg of our trip we headed about 4 hours south to our next destination, the beachy Albufeira in Algarve, Portugal. I will explore our time there in an upcoming post. Thank you for joining my series ‘Summer Travel to Portugal and Spain’. Please click title of the post to leave a comment.
Curated Lifestyle Collections at my Stylemindchic Boutique here