Portugal Summer Vacation | September 2019

PORTO PORTUGAL

August ended with a week long vacation in Portugal and it was the most scenic place we've explored in a while. After a 6 hour red eye flight from JFK we landed in Lisbon and took a 3 hour Uber ride to Porto, Portugal. The moment we approached Porto, I rolled the windows down to let the fresh river breeze brush my face. Porto has the prettiest narrow streets aligned with lime stone pavers and buildings covered with etched colorful tiles. Suprisingly, everyone spoke English which made it easier to navigate. We strolled the streets for a few hours and were able to figure out how to get around on foot. The gondola lift ride above the river is a must along with an evening sitting by the water to people watch. Let's not forget watching an authentic Fado performance to let the true sounds of Portugal sink in. Ubers are the easiest and most affordable way to get around the cities in Portugal.

PORTO PHOTOS

Where we stayed: Porto A.S. 129

Porto A.S. 129 is a historic, quaint hotel in the center of Porto. Our room was on the top floor and filled with bright light and many windows. Upon arrival we were greeted with a glass of Port and a Pastel De Nata (the famous Portuguese custard desert). The room was equipped with a complimentary bottle of Port and a fridge stocked with more goodies and chocolate. A full daily breakfast was also included and was very important in starting our day right. The best part of this hotel's location is that it is a few steps from the main rail station and key local restaurants.

Where we Ate in Porto:

The food in Portugal is very inexpensive and loaded with flavor. We didn't find one place that disappointed. Lunch time was a quick stop at the local deli for fried bacalhau empanadas. The Portuguese are known for their bacalhau (codfish) and sardines, both fresh and canned versions.

Concept31 - we ordered octopus, chorizo and grouper fish and the ingredients were fresh and simple. The food was clean tasting and we added a bottle of DoisPontoCinco Vinho Verde white wine for only $11 euros.

Rita Cozinha Regional is a family style restaurant way off the beaten path of the tourist area and we street hiked there and it was worth the time. We were treated like family by the manager and gracious staff. Anything here is considered authentic Portuguese cuisine so I recommend you order whatever they suggest. The Octopus with potaotes and the brazilian steak were very memorable.

CASCAIS PORTUGAL :

Cascais is a resort beach town closer to Lisbon filled with shops, restaurants, beautiful limestone alleyways and palm trees along the side walks. Take a stroll around the beach, relax and eat fresh seafood and a gelato from Santini and I guarantee you will be sucked in. We took a quick day trip to Sintra to visit the Castles with our tour guide in a TukTuk (which is a small golf cart motor vehicle).

Where we stayed: The Albatroz Hotel

The Albatroz hotel is perched on a small cliff overlooking the beach and is located in the heart of Cascais. The hotel is dressed with bohemian chic blue and white panache. We selected the 180 degree sea view room with 3 balconies, high ceilings and a huge white bathroom facing the sea. The best part is the complimentary sea view breakfast on their deck.

CASCAIS PHOTOS

Where we ate in Cascais:

Mariscaria is one of the best seafood spots in Cascais. If you're looking for a romantic evening outside this is a great location to undwind and eat nice portions of grilled squid, prawns and grouper. Afterwards, head to super hip Hifen for creative cocktails facing the beach.

Santini is a great Italian Gelato place and our favorite flavors were the hazelnut and coconut.

Opiparo - we took a walk on the boardwalk to Estoril to eat with the locals at Opiparo which is well known restaturant nestled on the beach. We ordered fish, shrimp and squid soaked in broth and it was delicious. Again, no meal would be complete without a bottle of refreshing and light Vinho Verde white wine.

Sintra- The beauty continued as we took a tour with a TukTuk (which is a golf cart-like open taxi) going up hill on windy roads to see the jaw dropping castles and palaces of Sintra from unique angles only a local would know about. It was so fascinating to see these colossal structures and learn the history of how and why they were built so high up in the sky. Along the way we stopped to drink from a natural water spring that supposedly had mystic healing powers.

Piriquita Cascais - is the oldest cafe in Sintra and a must see for a cup of espresso and a warm Pastel de Nata.