May 19, 2017

Lisbon - Fun Facts and more


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1. Lisbon is the largest Portuguese city and the oldest European capital after Athens. It's often considered as one of the most livable cities. It's home of 2,7 millions of people.

2. Its previous name Olissipo means "safe harbor" in Phoenician. The city was founded by the Phoenicians although a legend says that it was founded by Ulysses on his journey home from Troy. The raven is the symbol of the city.

3. Today is called "the city of light, the city of seven hills". The top of the hills offer the best views of the city and the area with Santa Justa Elevator which is right in the city center. Looking for more views? Stay tuned for the next post and something that reminds me of Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco.

4. The typical yellow trams that you can see all over the city's center are originally American and they were even called "americanos" back in 1873. This public transport is one of the main turistic attractions in the city, especially the famous line number 28. These trams are often crowded so beware of the pickpockets, but if you're careful enough, the ride is a perfect way to experience the city's vibes that are at the same time chaotic yet relaxed.

5. The Vasco da Gama Bridge over the Tagus River is 17, 2 km long and it's the longest bridge in Europe.

6. The Belem district (which you can see on many photos below) is home of two Seven Wonders of Portugal (remember the one from my previous post?) The first is Belem tower built in 1514 in the name of Portuguese glorious Age of Discovery. It even served as a lighthouse, a jail and telegraph post. The second one is the Jerónimos Monastery.

7. From 14th to 18th century Lisbon had several big earthquakes and in 1755 the most severe earthquake of all (9 on Richter scale) destroyed about 85% of the city and it triggered a tsunami.

8. Looking for an authentic Portuguese experience? Check out the Alfama district (the only city's district that survived the big earthquake) and cozy restaurants. You can have a dinner and listen to the fado, authentic Portuguese music. It's something that I highly, highly recommend!

9. If you have a sweet tooth, don't forget to try pastel de nata, a typical Portuguese egg tart pastry, originally created by monks of Jerónimos Monastery in 18th century. It can be easily found in bakeries and pastry shops.

10. If you're a bookworm like me, in Lisbon you can find the oldest bookstore in the world (1732).

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May 12, 2017

Sintra, Portugal


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If I had to describe Sintra in one word it would be a fairy tale. Yes, as cliché as it sounds. This resort town near Lisbon made of palaces, exotic gardens, all kinds of architectural styles, surrounded by calming, kind of mystical forests is something that words cannot describe. Lord Bayron called it a "glorious garden" and Hans Christian Andersen called it "the most beautiful place in Portugal". 

Sintra has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember and it impressed me far more than I could imagine. This Portuguese gem must be my warmest recommendation if you find yourself in Lisbon (about 40 minutes by train). The senses get so overwhelmed only after few moments and the mind and soul can hardly process the concentrated beauty. I read somewhere that it's like a torn page from a fairy tale book and I couldn't agree more. 

We spent a whole day in Sintra and managed to see 2 of the most famous places. The first stop was The Pena Palace - the most colorful and original palace I've ever seen, like a real life Lego structure mixed with a castle from 1001 nights. It's one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal (you'll see 2 more in my next post). The palace dates back to the Middle Age when it served as a chapel and later it was a royal Portuguese residence.

The afternoon was reserved for Quinta da Regaleira, a decorative residence surrounded by mystical gardens where every detail represents ancient secret orders and mix of symbols. The hidden tunnels take you to probably the most amazing spot, to The Initiation Well which is 27 m long. It resembles an inverted tower and it has symbols of alchemy, Masonry, Dante's Divine Comedy and more. If you're a mystery/legends/history lover like me, you will adore that one.

Before we drove back to Lisbon, we went to nearby town of Cascais, a perfect place for watching the sunset at famous Boca do Inferno (Hell Mouth) spot. Seeing the ocean, rocks and seagulls flying into the sunset was a perfect ending for this already perfect day with our families. No material thing could ever replace that feeling and richness of the soul.

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May 4, 2017

Lisbon, Portugal


"Quem nunca viu Lisboa, nunca viu coisa boa."
("Who never saw Lisbon, never saw something good.")
- Popular quote


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If there's one benefit of having international families living in different cities and countries, that must be the moment when you finally manage to see each other. It's the best time ever, one of those memories that you'll cherish for a lifetime. Ulises and I already have this family tradition and that means that April is reserved for joining our familes together. This time the two of us and my parents visited my mom-in-law in Mérida, Spain and also spent few days in nearby Lisbon and the area. Today I'll show you the first day in Lisbon, a city that I've visited three times so far and one of my favorite places in the world. I love Portugal in general and having it so close to Spain, makes it a perfect excuse for visiting it every now and then. Welcome to the capital of Portugal, the city of yellow trams, 7 hills, fado music, city of contrasts and much more that I'll show you very soon. Welcome to the city of light, to the one and only - Lisbon! :)

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