Lisbon and Sintra

Let’s start with a disclaimer: I did not spend enough time in Lisbon.

To be more precise, I didn’t spend enough time exploring Lisbon. My first afternoon was spent watching Germany beat Portugal – and then celebrating afterwards. And half of my second day was spent exploring the Unesco World Heritage Site of Sintra.

From the little that I did see of Lisbon, here’s the verdict: it’s buzzing, it’s beautiful and it’s half as frustrating as some of the other European capitals. What I mean by that is Lisbon is relatively raw and not as commercialised as other historic, big cities. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as cool as them: it has the beach right around the corner, a historic castle with a killer view, colourful quarters and legendary pastel de nata.

Lisbon, Portugal Lisbon Continue reading

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Porto

Even though I have travelled a fair bit this year, I keep going back to familiar places. India, for example. And I travelled again to Spain in March and went to Amsterdam twice in May alone. It’s been a great first half of 2014, but my geeky country count has been at a standstill.

In the hopes of checking off at least one new country, I decided to go to Portugal. I flew to Porto and met up with my old friend Sheila, who currently lives in Barcelona. We are both active travellers so we checked out almost all of Porto in 40 short but action-packed hours.

Porto PortugalSet gracefully at the bank of Rio Douro, Porto rises steeply upwards with orange-hued roofs chaotically spread among the narrow streets of the old town. It is a romantic little cities with a lot of medieval flavour. We walked through the narrow and steep streets checking out old relics, towering churches, abandoned monasteries and vibrant river-side of Ribeira. Continue reading