This was the first international trip I took without Leslie. My companion for this trip was my best childhood friend and best man to-be, Brent! Brent and I had been discussing a destination for a guys trip and ended up landing on Portugal. And Brent is a lot like me in that he likes to do the planning. When Les and I go on trips, I do 99.9% of the planning and try to be as detailed as I can. This time, it was the other way around - I did .01% of the planning and Brent took control. It was nice to have a little break!
I was set to arrive on Sunday March 17 at 630pm (after a 10 hour layover in Dublin). By that point, Brent had already been in Lisbon 3 days.
DAY 1 SUN 03.17.2019
IRELAND BONUS: I did not miss the chance to leave the airport in Dublin (on St. Patrick's Day!) and explore the city for a few hours. I didn't do a lot but if you'd like to check out what I did, CLICK HERE for a brief bonus page on Dublin.
I played it safe and arrived back at the Dublin airport a little earlier than I needed to, which ended up being a mistake...the flight to Lisbon was delayed 3 hours. I got into Lisbon at 930pm and just took a taxi straight to Brent's airbnb. Shoutout to Brent for getting me 2 ham and cheese sandwiches so I could have something to eat. I was exhausted from a super long day and we crashed!
DAY 2 MON 03.18.2019
That might have been the best night of sleep I ever had, which was good because we had big plans for Monday...
Train from Lisbon to Porto
Sao Bento Station
Lunch @ Rib Beef & Wine
Luis I Bridge (sunset)
Dinner @ O Caracas
Night photo @ Cleric's Tower
Lisbon to Porto: After a quick breakfast, we headed to the most beautiful train station I've seen (I haven't seen that many but it was beautiful), Estação do Oriente to get us from Lisbon up to Porto for the next couple days.
São Bento Station: Upon arrival, we were greeted by this beautiful station. Good job with the train stations, Portugal.
After checking into our airbnb, we were ready to get out and explore Porto. We were staying right in the city and were able to walk pretty much everywhere we needed to go. Our first stop, however, was for lunch at Adega São Nicolau, a 'slow-dining' experience in Porto. This place had been recommended to Brent and looked and smelled delicious. After waiting 2nd in line for about 30 minutes (people in front of us still hadn't been seated), we decided to move on and maybe come back here the next day (we did). Instead, we ate at right down the street at Rib, Beef, & Wine, which was delicious!
Rib, Beef, & Wine: We were seated much more quickly and ate inside (although their outdoor patio looked just lovely. This was my first meal in Portugal and I was obsessed with the flavors of wine sauce and perfection they put into the Francesinha (€12,50). "It is like a Porto staple." I'm sure other restaurants have delicious ones as well, but you wouldn't be disappointed here. We also split the mushroom, potato, truffle and ox jus (€8,50) appetizer and it was incredible. Those sauces!!
After lunch we did a good amount of just walking around Porto looking at sites, architecture, and trying to take good photos. Honestly, I couldn't tell you exactly where we walked but I believed we walked around the Ribeira and Vitoria parts of Porto close to the Luis I bridge. Here are some photos of places we were...
Sunset / The Evening: After walking around the city for a bit, we relaxed at the Airbnb for about an hour before heading to the perfect spot in Porto for sunset, the lookout of the Luis I Bridge at Miradouro da Serra do Pilar [41.138203, -8.608597]. We were here for about 2 hours shooting sunset and into the evening...
After that, we had dinner at O' Caracas, a restaurant that Brent had found in his research that was highly recommended. It was delicious, by the way. We were greeted in a homey-feeling place and we were offered 2 options for dinner. We both chose the veal.
From there, it was pretty much time to head back to the airbnb and go to sleep. We did make one final stop on the way back for another shot at some night photography. We used Cleric's Tower as the subject and got some long exposure photos of the traffic going by.
DAY 3 TUES 03.19.2019
Every day was pretty busy. This one was busy but wasn't quite as action-packed with as many activities. The first and possibly most important (at least to Brent) was to be the first in line at Livraria Lello, a bookstore that inspired Harry Potter (I don't know the details, I'm not a Harry Potter guy). We had more planned as well. Here's what the day looked like...
Breakfast @ Cafe Sao Nicolau
Lunch @ Adega Sao Nicolau
Chapel of Souls
Foz do Douro
Dinner @ Restaurante Flor dos Congregados
Cafe Sao Nicolau didn't really stand out (no breakfast place did), as breakfast for us pretty much every morning was a ham & cheese sandwich and a pastel de nata and every place tasted exactly the same (except Pasteis de Belem, but we'll get to that later). It was just a quick, easy bite, that was a minute walk from our airbnb.
Livaria Lello: Okay, this was the big event for the morning, as we were excited to get a shot of the staircase with no one in it, a quite difficult task to achieve. Brent had read online to go the night before and get your tickets in advance (YES, you need tickets to get in and they cost €5). They recommended getting there about 15 minutes early if you want to be first in line. We decided to get there 30 minutes early (ended up being 40 minutes early) and were still THIRD in line! The line was down the street 20 minutes before so definitely get here early if you want a photo with no one on it...very early! Our experience could have been worse. The first guy to go in really took his time on the stairs while everyone else was waiting to get the shot. We kind of knelt down with our cameras and people behind us were patiently waiting (and getting their shots) as soon as the man finally cleared out. We both got the photo with no one in it so that was pretty awesome. As soon as we went forward, it was like a stampede in there and the place was just packed full.
After a little more walking around and relaxing, it was time for lunch...
Adega Sao Nicolau: We tried coming here on day 1 but after waiting in line for 30 minutes we gave up. We got here on day 2 as soon as it opened and were seated quickly. They have an outdoor patio but we opted to sit inside, which I'd recommend since the interior is quite unique. It definitely had a fancy vibe to it (at least fancier than what I'm used to!). I ordered the veal again and it came in a bowl in a delicious sauce. I'd recommend coming here but make sure you have time to wait if you don't come right when it opens, as it seems to be a slow-dining location.
Chapel of Souls: We came for the blue and white tiles and the photography.
Foz do Douro: This is an area of the west coast of Portugal with beaches and a lighthouse. We came here for sunset photography! It's about 5km away but we had no trouble getting an Uber round-trip.
Restaurante Flor dos Congregados: It was getting kind of late and we were pretty hungry. The Uber dropped us off nearby but it was a little tricky to find this place but as long as you have your map out, you'll find it. I think this was the most fancy restaurant and is also a "slow-dining" experience. I'm not a wine snob but I ordered a red and it was probably the best wine I've ever had.
After another long & busy day, we were exhausted and ready to crash. We went back to the airbnb and that was it! Here are a few more photos from the day...
DAY 4 WED 03.20.2019
It was time to leave Porto and to do so, we got a car. The final destination for the evening was Nazare but we had some stops along the way. Here's what the plan was for Wednesday...
Rental car from Centauro
Stop in Aveiro
Costa Nova Beach
Lunch @ Restaurante Marisqueira Costa Nova
Lighthouse of Praia da Barra
Praia do Norte in Nazaré
Dinner @ Taverna do 8 Ó 80
Night Photography in Nazaré
Aveiro: We stopped here for a few different things. We didn't spend a ton of time here but we both agreed the most interesting part was the striped houses! Oh...and the eel was delicious.
From the houses at the end of the photo strip, it was about a quarter mile walk down (to the left if you're facing the houses) to some restaurants. We heard Aveiro was a good place to get eel so that's what we did at Restaurante Marisqueira Costa Nova...
The last stop in Aveiro was to see the Lighthouse of Praia da Barra. Once you're there, you can't miss it! We came here for photos...
After that, we drove about an hour and a half to check into our airbnb in Nazare...our airbnb with the most amazing view from the living room window.
We settled in for about an hour and then went over to North Beach, which is known for having enormous waves. The waves were definitely big when we went but we didn't experience anything like they can get there.
We couldn't think of a better spot to photograph sunset than back at the airbnb. We made it back just in time and shot just from outside the airbnb this incredible view...
Taverna do 8 Ó 80: We came here for dinner. I almost ordered a burger...in a coastal town. I opted not to take any photos here and I wish I had cause I can't remember what I ordered! I do remember it being pretty good. I think Brent got tuna and he talked some sense into me so I ordered some kind of fish!
DAY 5 THURS 03.21.2019
I wasn't quite ready to leave that view from our airbnb in Nazare but it was time. We had another big day planned as we were to finish the day back in Lisbon. Here's what the day looked like...
Quinta de Regaleira
Park and National Palace de Pena
Lunch @ Porto De Sentidos
Pastries @ Casa do Preto
Praia de Ursa
Dinner @ Água e Sal (Sintra)
Sunset Photos @ Miradouro das Azenhas do Mar
Back to Lisbon
Quinta de Regaleira: After a quick breakfast, we came here. We weren't sure where to park and once we found a spot, we were not even sure if it was a legal space (the car was still there when we got back). This was a really nice place to walk around. The entry fee is €7 or €8 but it's worth it to see and photograph the well, which is the primary reason we came here!
Palacio Nacional da Pena: This place is very colorful! The castle sits on a tall hill in Sintra and is quite the place to visit! It was extremely busy when we were there. I believe the cost was €7 to tour the gardens and to get to the outside of the castle and another €7 to go inside the castle. For our purposes we were content with the outside only.
After exploring the above spots, we drove by Porto De Sentidos, where we decided to stop for lunch. This was the only food I had in Portugal that I didn't like. I ordered sausages (i love sausages) and something about the flavor was gross. Brent tried it and liked it. The texture seemed off; they were mushy inside...not what I was used to and it wasn't for me! Brent's food looked fantastic! The experience was fun though, as they have outdoor seating which was very enjoyable.
Praia da Ursa: I'm glad we didn't skip this one. Definitely add this scenic beach to your list of things to do. Our little rental car was only able to make it so far up the dirt road to get to the top of the cliff, but from there, be prepared to walk down the side of the mountain. We didn't know where the path was so let me help you. From here [38.787937, -9.490460], you'll notice a path to the left and a path to the right. Take the one on the left (unless you want a hefty challenge/scramble!).