Read Part 1 here if you have’t done so already for a breakdown of transport, airbnb’s, and things to do in Setúbal and Lisbon.
DAY FOUR : BELÉM, ART, TARTS & LX FACTORY
This was such a cool day. We got the train to Belém, a friend had told me to go there as this is where the custard tarts originated from – nuns used to starch their clothes with egg whites, they then made the tarts using the yolks. When we arrived we wandered to the Belém tower which was pretty, there was a long queue to get in so we skipped going inside. I got some frozen yoghurt, nom. We then went to the Museu Berardo (entry €5) which houses some contemporary art. It was a pretty nice gallery! Afterward we sat in Pastéis de Belém, there was a massive queue for both take away and sitting in and luckily we got a table in their nice courtyard. We ordered a cheese toastie and 6 custard tarts, 4 of which we could take away. I also got a hot chocolate while Mikee had a coffee. The place was really beautiful outside. The food was delicious. Inside you could see them making all these pastel de nata which was incredible. We left and walked for about an hour and found LX Factory which was a cool little trendy area where a lot of nice restaurants and artist studios seem to be based with a market. I bought myself some simple bracelets as my one from San Francisco broke after two years of non stop wear. We found ourselves a rug for our hallway and we went and sat on top of a rooftop bar and watched the sunset while drinking some cocktails. We then walked back to Alfama which took forever. It was late and a Sunday and we didn’t have any food at our airbnb for dinner so we decided to go get pizza (I know) after a recommendation from a girl at Fábrica. We went to Casanova Pizzeria and it was honestly one of the best pizzas ever. I got a mushroom one and it came with ALL the mushrooms. The atmosphere was really nice, modern and relaxed and super close to the airbnb so we could roll ourselves back after eating way too much.
DAY FIVE : SINTRA, QUINTA DA REGALEIRA & CASTELO DOS MOUROS
Everyone we had spoken to beforehand and all the guides on Pinterest and Google say to take a daytrip to Sintra, so we did! And it was totally worth it. I’m sure there’s more to explore in the area but essentially there are a lot of beautiful palaces, estates & a castle, all concentrated in this one small spot. You can’t fit it all in in one day but there are some really beautiful places to see. We decided to go to Quinta da Regaleira, which is a decorative 20th century residence and it’s got the most beautiful garden, some of it is structured and some of it is left wild – there are two wells which were used for Tarot initiation rites, with a bunch of underground tunnels to explore, a waterfall, grottos and a labryinth of caves that go around a small lake. The building itself is beautiful and it was just stunning to explore the whole area. I think entry in was about €6
After we grabbed some lunch nearby, and thought about going up to the castle next which was right on the top of a mountain. There was a bus we could have taken up but while waiting for the bus a tuk tuk driver stopped next to us and asked if we’d be interested in going up. It looked fun and it cost us €5 each which is expensive but what the hell – we were at the top ten minutes later. It was actually such a blast going up this massive hill in this tiny rickety vehicle. The driver pointed out a huge rock that was under the castle and said it was called the boulder of friendship, where people can go climbing.
The Castle of the Moors was really cool. Entry was about €8. It still had all of its surrounds and you could climb up to two of the turrets. It was originally built in in the 8th/9th centuries and had history of Muslim and Christian settlers. The view was amazing, you could see all the way out to sea, and it was just really fun to explore such a beautiful and historical place. Afterwards we found the pedestrian path back down the hill (we were so glad we got the tuk tuk up), and got the train back to Lisbon.
DAY SIX : ALL THE VIEWS
Our last full day in Lisbon was quite relaxed. Our feet really hurt from all the walking so we took the morning quite easy before walking more. When we did get moving we stopped by Fábrica Coffee Roasters again, we wandered over to the Elevador de Santa Justa, a beautiful lift which was built in the 19th century to transports people up the steep hill from the Baixa district to the Carmo Archaelogical Museum, which we explored and which was amazing (entry was €4). The museum is a former medieval convent that was ruined during 1755 Lisbon earthquake, it’s really quite impressive. Afterward we walked all the way up to Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte to watch the sunset. It was a small climb after literally walking up hills for days, but you could see views all over the city. Afterward we slowly walked back to Alfama – stalked some sausage dogs, found some presents, bought some more pastel de nata and went back to pack.
DAY SEVEN : OCEANÁRIO DE LISBOA & HOME
Our flight wasn’t till the late afternoon and we needed to check out of our airbnb by 11, so we decided to drop off our luggage at the airport before doing one final bit of exploring. We decided to go to the Oceanarium as it was only two stops away from the airport and we’d heard good things. When we arrived we checked out the waterfront and watched some seagulls fishing which was fun. We then headed in. There was a really beautiful aquarium designed by a Japanese photographer who had died not long after making it. It was designed to represent the tropical forest water habitats using design principles of wabi sabi, it was there in part to highlight the immense importance these waterways hold for us. It was truly stunning, very moving, they’d even created a special piece of music for the exhibition. You can watch a little video about it below.
We explored the rest of the aquarium which had a central aquarium housing all sorts of fish, sharks and rays, and this was connected to external aquariums where you could see puffins, penguins, otters, amphibians… all sorts. It was really awesome being able to see and explore such a cool building with such incredible inhabitants. They also made it abundantly clear how important it is to take care of and protect our oceans, to avoid polluting them. It was educational and fun and a really great way to spend the day before flying back to chilly London.
Both Setúbal and Lisbon were far cooler than we could have imagined. We went without any expectations really, ate far too many custard tarts which we were both very happy about, and had an amazing time walking around seeing all the sights, chatting to random people and just enjoying being in the sun knowing full well we probably won’t feel anything similar on our skin till April again. Sigh! I need to move somewhere with a warmer climate.