My fascination with Lisboa and Portugal, in general, started when I was in elementary school (Grade 4). I used to keep a travel guide on Lisbon which I stole in our old library and from time to time, I would imagine myself in Lisboa wondering in one of the small alleys, absorbing to a piece of lonely fado music while sipping a traditional cherry liqueur called ginjinha, and just get lost within the city. Yes! It was like a love affair for me. Cheesy but true.

Day One. Barcelona to Lisbon.

Twenty-one years after, I fulfilled that dream. Our 10 days trip to Spain had ended and we were so excited to see Portugal. Thanks to our friend Alan for waking up so early and drove us ton the airport. The check-in process was so fast utilizing the self-check-in kiosk. We got stranded inside the plane for more than an hour. I even grabbed a pretty decent sleep when I felt the plane taking off at the Barcelona Airport.

We were blessed with fine weather when we arrived at Lisbon Airport. After we picked up our bags, we went out of the arrival area and purchased a train ticket to Oriente station and take another train to Agualva Cacem station where we met our friend Nuno. We were exhausted from the flight, not to mention the delay and missed the train in Oriente so we rest a bit for an hour or two.

Gare do Oriente is one of the major transport hubs in Lisbon designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

One of the reasons why we travel is food. We are always excited to try new food and I guess that dinner was a good welcome for us in Portugal. We drove to a restaurant not far from Cacém which my friend had never been so it was like an experiment which turned out to be good. We all ordered their house specialty “Prego no prato com ovo”, a grilled of thin-sliced beef steak served with fried potato, steamed rice and sunny side up egg for only 5.75 . The bottle of white wine was the perfect pair which was sold separately.  A decent meal for affordable prices.

Prego no prato com ovo is a generous plate of thinly-sliced grilled beef with fried potatoes, steamed rice, and egg.

Day Two. Roadtrip, Portinho, and Melides

It was a long day for us. We left in Lisbon after breakfast and our first stop was at Arrábida beach. It was too crowded so we decided to look for other beaches. Along the way, we dropped by in an abandoned military camp in Setúbal. So surreal it’s like you are playing in a real video game with big cannons, abandoned rooms, and tunnels connected to the hills. It offers a panoramic view of the Tróia Peninsula and the Atlantic Ocean.

Ponte 25 de Abril or sometimes called Ponte Sobre o Tejo is a suspension bridge similar to Golden Gate Bridge. Named after the great revolution that took place in April 25, 1974, which overthrew the authoritative regime of Estado Novo.
On the other side of the bridge is the “Christ the King Sanctuary” in Almada, Portugal. Inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. It was built to express gratitude from sparing the Portuguese from the effects of World War II.
Troia Peninsula from afar boasts 13 kilometers of white sand beach, crystal clear waters and is considered as one of the most sophisticated areas in Portugal with casinos, fine dining restaurants, and shopping boutiques. Name it, they have it!
Walls of the abandoned military camp
Some graffiti on the walls all over the vicinity of the military camp

Continuing to our target destination we passed by in these beautiful and secluded beach of Portinho. After Nuno managed to park the car, we jumped into the free shuttle going closer to the beach and walked a little bit. I was tempted to swim but I didn’t. The water was too cold. I just took a nap under an olive tree instead.  So many water activities to do there like kayaking, jet-ski riding, beach-combing, sun-bathing or swimming if you are brave enough.

Parque Natural da Arrábida covers an area of 108 sq. km. located in the town of Sesimbra, the city of Setúbal, Palmela hills and the coastlines. It is home to 213 species of vertebrates.

Convento de Nossa Senhora da Arrábida is a 16th-century building in the middle of the mountains. It was given by Duke  João de Lencastre to an Andalusian barefoot friar named Friar Martinho. It was the setting of a 1995 Portuguese film “The Convent”. Pre-arranged tours operated by Fundação Oriente are available from Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. They also offer bed and breakfast.

The lovely and secluded Praia Portinho da Arrábida. Awarded in 2010 as one of the 7 Marvels of Portugal.

Going on to our target destination to Melides, we left Portinho and after an hour, we stopped at this beautiful town in Alcácer do Sal for some snacks (pastel nata) and had a taste of their famous freshwater shrimps.

You can sample the steamed freshwater shrimps being sold by these lovely ladies for 3 €.

Crayfish (Écrevisse) is a freshwater crustacean resembling a small lobster. Also harvested from Sado River.
Our first pastel nata. Our friend told us that it is the same as the pastel nata in Belem. I must agree. The only difference is the huge crowd falling in line in Belem pastry shops.
Sado River is one of the major rivers in Portugal spanning 175 kilometers from Ourique to the estuary in Setubal. This is where they collected those shrimps.

At night in Melides, though we were tired, we didn’t miss the concert at the plaza. It’s just a small community event that reminds me of my small barangay where we had this dance and music party called “bailehay” which means dance. What’s printed on my mind was the drunk guy who fell at the fountain in the middle of the plaza in Melides. It was just funny!

Igreja Paroquial de São Pedro was originally built in 1634, this church was totally destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and subsequently rebuilt.
Bacalhau á bras. Believed to have originated in Bairro Alto, an old quarter of Lisbon. This is a very typical Portuguese meal you can order on the menu. It is mainly made from salted bacalhau (cod) shreds, onions and potatoes all abound with scrambled eggs. Savory and healthy!
Partying in Melides town plaza with their guest DJ
This drunk guy fell on the fountain but still managed to get up.

Day Three.  Praia de  Melides  and Sines Festival Musicas Do Mundo

Portugal is blessed with 832 km. of Atlantic coastline more than enough to enjoy numerous long stretch of white sand beaches. Praia de Melides is one of the pristine beaches we had been during our stay in Portugal. It’s 131.9 km south of Lisbon and is accessible via train from Lisbon to Grandola and hopping a taxi to Melides. We drove by a car and it took us an hour and a half with several stopovers. Such a tranquil place that offers a lot of outdoor activities and plenty of pretty affordable accommodations dotting in town or somewhere in between or nearby coast. We stayed in an apartment for 35  a night without breakfast. It has a restaurant on the ground floor so there’s no problem with food. In my recollection, that was the best plate of big fish I had in Portugal for 12 €. It was worth it with boiled potatoes and vegetables. Perfectly paired with house wine.

Migas com carne is typical in Alentejo cuisine made with slices of hard bread softened in hot water and cooked in fat (resulting from the frying of pork) until a lean and consistent ball with a lightly golden outer crust is obtained. Normally served with fried meat and fresh vegetables.
This plate of grilled dorado fish was probably my best fish in Portugal. Fatty, meaty, and tasty.
Lagoa de Melides features a dramatic landscape surrounded by private homes, campgrounds, farms, pristine beaches, and few restaurants.

Sines Festival Musicas do Mundo (Sines World Music Festival) is an annual music festival in Portugal that takes place in July. Considered to be one of the most exciting music events organized by the Sines City Council since 1999 with the aim of promoting  Sines castle, this festival mainly dedicates folk, traditional music, and other genres. Always held in 2 sites in Sines historical center and Porto Covo village which is 13km south of Sines. One of the best music festivals in Europe, it draws over 1, 300,000 spectators since 1999. There are free concerts both in Sines and Porto Covo but the one inside the castle is paid for 10-20 € depending on the day. It was the last day of the event so we paid 20  each. One of the famous reggae group Inner Circle was there and played one of their famous hit song “Sweat” and “Games People Play”. Other performing artists were Ladysmith Black Mambazo of South Africa, Batida Apresenta: Ikoqwe of Portugal/Angola, and Underground System of USA. What a once in a lifetime experience we had that night!

Site for free concerts and some small shops where you can buy local food, drinks, and souvenirs.
At the beginning of the 1960s, Joseph Shabalala, a laborer living in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa founded a vocal group that would become the ambassador for South African Music. Their album “Shaka Zulu Revisited” earned them the 2018 Grammy for Best World’s Music.
Sines castle as one of the main venues for Festival Musicas do Mundo.
Batida Apresenta: Ikoqwe. Angolan rapper Ikonoklasta a.k.a. Luaty Beirão, joins Pedro Coquenão, an Angolan exile to form an artistic group Batida. Their revolutionary music ranges from different topics such as injustices, identities, neo-colonialism, migrations, friendship, love and utopia.
Fresh from Brooklyn, New York, this neo-Afrobeat group “Underground System” transformed a global dance of wave, electronica, contemporary classical, disco and house in one hell of a performance. Full of energy and good vibes!
The finale performance from one of the iconic group Inner Circle has culminated with fireworks. This Grammy award-winning Jamaican reggae group has over 30 albums with one of their famous hit song “Sweat

Day Four. Lazy Morning at the beach. Back to Lisbon in the afternoon.

The morning was so peaceful when we woke up. The rain slowly hits the tin roof and drops to the ground as it was absorbed by the dry sandy vegetable garden patches in front of our apartment. I just waited that dramatic time to pass by feeling all the sounds around. Then suddenly I felt hungry I needed to wake up Delphine and head to the restaurant downstairs. Luckily, the rain had subsided so we decided to drove a little bit downtown and found a very good panificadora (bakery) and mind you, that’s where we got the cheapest coffee and pastries in Melides. I ordered 2 each of coffee and pastel nata and paid only 4.10 €. I was so happy knowing that there’s still a place like that. We just have to look around.  After breakfast, we went back to the beach and enjoyed a cold glass of Sagres beer. That’s where I discovered one of the hottest sauce (Sacana) when I ordered a burger. To my amazement, I bought 3 bottles for personal consumption.

Praia de Melides was one of the best beaches we had been in Portugal. A glass of beer here costs 1.50 € and a burger for 8.80 €.

Day Five. Lisbon City Walk

You will better know the city once you walk into it. So that’s what we did. After breakfast, we took the train to Lisbon and walked all day, exploring almost every corner of the streets, went inside some tile galleries, interesting houses, and churches. In the afternoon, we had to meet Nuno and Nikka for some exclusive walk, ginjinha tasting and lastly had a very nice dinner.

Everywhere you go in Lisbon you’ll see these azulejos (tiles) covering buildings and walls.

Casa do Alentejo was created in 1912 as the first attempt to establish a guild and later on, after 10 years, renamed as Casa do Alentejo. Its main purpose is to boost, promote and preserve the culture of the Alentejo by acting as a multicultural space for various activities.
Arco da Rua Augusta
Praça do Comércio. Commonly known as Terreiro do Paço (Palace Yard), it was the center of commerce as well as administrative regulation between the country, other parts of Europe and Portuguese colonies in the Americas, Asia, and Africa.
Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição. Instituted in 1498, it was partially damaged during the 1755 earthquake.
Casa dos Bicos or House of the Spikes is a historic house built in the early 16th-century. Inspired by Italian Renaissance palaces and Manueline style. One of the few buildings that had survived in the 1755 earthquake. It is now the headquarters of  José Saramago Foundation and at the same time the Museum of Lisbon.
Sé Church or the Lisbon Cathedral is the oldest church in Lisbon and is the seat of the Archdiocese of Lisbon built in 1147. This church has been entwined to Portugal’s earliest history. After surviving from several earthquakes, it had undergone major renovation and restorations. A national monument since 1910.

This is where we had our first sip of ginjinha. in this almost empty street, a guy offered us a taste of what makes the Portuguese celebrate every day.
O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa. In this store, you can find a wide variety of canned sardines for souvenirs and gifts. What a fantastic idea!
Estação de Rossio is the primary station in Lisbon for the Lisboa-Sintra suburban railway. This is another classical 16th-century Manueline style architecture. Notice the 2 horseshoe-shaped archways main doors.
Take a walk in one of the uncrowded streets of Lisbon and discover pubs and small restaurants.

Oh well, I can say that we were so lucky to have my friends who showed us and explained the best of Lisbon.  We had dinner at one of his favorite restaurants in Lisbon with only a few seats. I must say this one was really good since a lot of people were falling in line. We had to go to another restaurant last time we were there since they were about to close for an afternoon break.

A Provinciana is located at Travessa do Forno 23, 1150-193 Lisboa. Guaranteed simple, delicious and affordable meals.
The generous plate of grilled salmon with potatoes, and steamed cabbage. Miam!

I have to emphasize the dinner we had at A Provinciana restaurant was so delicious and affordable. I ordered a slice of grilled salmon and never regretted it. A very big serving of salmon and the boiled potatoes was really fulfilling. A plate only costs 5.95 €. I don’t usually plug names or restaurants, bars or coffee shops but this one was an exception.  Piece of advice: go there early to secure your table.

Day Six. Museo Nacional do Azulejo and Belem

Founded in 1509 by Queen Dona LeonorMuseo Nacional do Azulejo was a former Madre de Deus Monastery. It’s one of the most important museums in Portugal particularly for its unique collection of azulejo (tiles). The museum had undergone a series of renovations in 1957.

 It was established with a big mission of collecting, conserving, studying and disseminating representative samples of the evolution of ceramics and tiles in Portugal, promoting the best practices of inventory, documentation, research, classification, disclosure, conservation and restoration of ceramics and, in particular, the tiles. (

We had a great meal prior to the start of the tour. The food we had at the Restaurante/Cafeteria do MNAz was good. I ordered a plate of fried sardines, a glass of beer and cheesecake all for 13.70 €. I had this fascination for cheesecakes so that one was good. Not really the best.

The outdoor garden restaurant. You have to wait if you want to dine here. In our case, we just dined inside the cafe.
Sardines is always part of Portuguese cuisine. Better to use hands when eating these small sardines.
Oh well, this was the winner of my search for a good cheesecake in Portugal. 3.20 €  per slice.
Bolo Bolacha is a traditional Portuguese cake for 3.20 €  a slice.

After we bought the ticket for 5 € per person, we never wasted time and started our tour with the help of audioguide downloaded on our phones. Piece of advice: download the application in advance before visiting the museum. You can download the app in Google Play Store or Apple Store. The wiFi inside was not really strong so we needed to re-download the app twice.

Circa 1680 panels from Praia Palace in Lisbon depicting hunting scenes amidst wild game.
17th-century pattern azulejos to line interiors were mainly commissioned by the church and are laid out in carpet style, edged with frames or borders.
Circa 1800. This is one of my favorite entitled ” Antonio Joaquim Carneiro“. This is a true story of a hat maker who spent his early youth tending sheep and cows, he later came to the city to learn how to make hats with his uncle. He eventually started his business, married a wealthy widow with 5 children and purchased an estate in Póvoa de Santo Adrião, near Lisbon, where he built his own hat factory. In this panel, Antonio riding in his carriage going to his estate where he has his hat factory and business.
20th-century. Azulejos and 3D objects, Art Nouveau, Art Deco up to the present. Emphasis is given to signed artwork, some the result of public commissions, like this one in Lisbon Underground, Metropolitano de Lisboa.
Circa 1700. Panoramic View of Lisbon. Its a unique iconographic document on the history of Lisbon measuring almost 23 meters in length. This panel shows the complete city view prior to the 1755 earthquake that destroyed Lisbon.

Built around 1551 during the reign of King João III and Queen Catherine of Austria, this claustrim (cloister) is part of the original convent. It forms an enormous square, and a corridor runs along the whole building’s inner wall facing the garden patio. At present, the corridors are used for exhibitions, concerts, dinners, and other events.

I can say that we had enjoyed the museum for more than 4 hours. After the tour at the museum, we went to Belem to try their famous pasteis de Belém. Everybody was telling me“Oh you have to try that when you’re in Portugal” or  “Your trip will never be complete without having a bite of that pasteis” Seriously? Why not?

Pasteis de Belem for 1.15 €   apiece. Best when eaten hot.
Customers patiently queueing for their box of pasteis.
Plenty of rooms inside the shop. Just keep on looking and you’ll find your space to enjoy your pasteis.


Derived its name from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem, Belém is known not just for food but for many national monuments, historical landmarks, and extravagant buildings. Its history dated back in the 16th century when Portuguese started to explore the world.  Located in the mouth of Tagus river, it attracted mariners and seafarers seeking safer anchorage and refuge from the strong winds.

Our first drop off was in Jerónimos Monastery. Declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Tower of Belém in 1983. It’s a classic example of Manueline architecture in Lisbon which incorporates maritime discoveries and representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages of the great discoverers  Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral.

Jerónimos Monastery at night. In the 19th century, the church became the sepulcher for heroes and poets: Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões.

Torre de Belém  (Tower of Belém). Another lavish work of art is this Manueline architecture tower built in 1514. This UNESCO World Heritage Site served as a gateway to Lisbon and a fortress. It was built to supplement the existing fortresses of Cascais and São Sebastião (or Torre Velha).

 Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries). Built to commemorate the 500th death anniversary of Henry the Navigator. It is located a few meters from the Tower of Belém along the Tagus river where ships departed for exploration and trade to the Orient and India.

Day Seven. Lazy day and dinner with friends

Nothing beats when you travel and just be lazy at home, doing nothing and just cook when you’re hungry. That’s what we did that day.

Day Eight. Cabo Da Roca.

I’m pretty sure we’ll be back to this gorgeous and tranquil spot in Portugal. Cabo da Roca is a cape situated in the municipality of Sintra. It is the westernmost point of Portugal, of continental Europe and the Eurasian landmass. It is a common attraction for people visiting Portugal, particularly in Lisbon due to its effective public transportation.

How to get there? From the Sintra train station, we took a Scotturb bus going there. I would advise to not purchase a ticket right after you alight from the train station. Just pay inside the bus station and save 2€ per person. Outside the train station, there’s an outlet selling a bus ticket to Cabo da Roca for 6.30 per way but when we checked the website, it was only 4.30  per way.

What to do there? Enjoy the breath-taking views of Cabo da Roca, Chill around the cape or hike in one of those trails. I saw a lot of trails along the rolling hills and going down to the rocky beach. I wasn’t really prepared with only slippers on so I promised myself to wear my hiking boots next time. There’s a museum within the entrance of the lighthouse. So if you have time, check on it.

Look at the trails leading to the other side of the hills. A perfect exercise.

Such a priceless view sitting on the westernmost part of Europe. Just be careful when you get into this area. Too windy!

Day Nine. Sintra and Cascais

I guess my friend Nuno really found time to show us a bit of his place on our last day in Portugal. After breakfast, we hit the road to Cascais and Sintra for a walk.

Sintra is a longtime royal sanctuary manifested by gardens, lavish palaces, villas and ancient castles studded in the forested landscape of Sintra mountains. Listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sintra became one of the major tourist and dining destination considering its numerous Michelin star restaurants. Like any other place we visited, we never missed the chance of trying their traditional pastry called travesseirosSuch a generous treat after a long walk around Sintra. I really wanted to eat there but Nuno suggested a better place to eat in Cascais.

Completed in 1910, Sintra Town Hall follows Manueline style of architecture. Located just a few meters from Sintra station.
Sintra National Palace a.k.a. Town Palace or Royal Palace stands at the Republic Square, at the core of Sintra’s historic center. The palace has 2 cone-shaped chimneys coming from the kitchen that dominates the skyline of the village. It was the official residence of the royal family for 8 centuries starting from the 12th century onwards. It’s the only surviving royal palace from the Middle Ages.

Travesseiros is a dessert made of puff pastry with a filling of almond cream. Your trip to Sintra is never complete without tasting this delightful sweet creation. I liked that better than pastel nata.

Cascais is a charming resort town west of Lisbon dotted with coves, marina, and crowded white-sandy beaches. It’s a mix of 19th-century architecture and sophisticated facilities. I felt a sudden sadness knowing that our trip was about to end. Truly, no travel is complete without going home. The walk around the beach, cobbled streets, and chats with the artisans selling souvenirs around the square was embedded in my mind.

This artisan was so passionate about his artworks. He’s selling these refrigerator magnets starting at 5 euros. Support local artists.
Praia dos Pescadores is a busy beach in the middle of Cascais. A perfect place to enjoy the sun or some beach games.

The less-crowded Praia da Rainha. It was choosen by Queen Dona Amelia as her private beach.
The fantastic shop of sardines. Here, you can buy canned sardines for gifts in a circuslike atmosphere.
Notice the fabulous pavements! The technique of paving, an inheritance from the Romans, matched with patterns and shadows of an Oriental influence, gave this art a unique personality. As fate would have it, Lisbon and some parts of Portugal had to undergo a complete change after the 1755 earthquake. During the Pombaline reconstruction, streets were embellished in black and white stone.

Of course, the best part of the trip was dining. We were starving. The first time we checked the restaurant, it was still closed and we had to wait for more than an hour for it to open. Finally, we were seated in a nice spot overlooking the coast. The restaurant looks fancy but the price was too affordable. We paid 43.95 € in total for 4 persons.

A perfect dinner to end our trip in Portugal. Prego Prato com Ovo speciale. We’ll be back for sure!

Day Ten. Back to Belgium

Drove early morning to Lisbon Airport to catch our early morning flight to Brussels. That was the saddest and happiest part of our trip. I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to our dear friend Nuno, Nikka and to all of their friends we met while we were in Portugal. The experience we had was priceless. Obrigado! Hasta a la proxima!

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I live my life everyday celebrating. An easy go lucky guy. Always hungry for adventure and learning different cultures. If I'm not at the summit, I'm at the sea. Traveling is my way of life. Deeply in love with mountaineering, swimming, skinny dipping, island hopping, fishing, and cycling. Loves good food, beer, music, and good human conversation. At home, I used to cook, do yoga, and meditate. A coffee lover. Stay most of my time at the outdoors, breathing the cold air, tasting the saltiness of sea breeze, watch the waves swiftly caressing the sand, listen to the flowing water of the river, pitch my tent or hang my hammock and sleep under 5 billion stars. I hate manicured places (resorts). Adores sunrise and sunset which gives me extraordinary energy.


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