Thursday, April 30, 2015

Walking Tour of Lisbon

So my first walking tour on Saturday was with Sandeman's New Europe Lisbon on their Free Walking Tour. I have been on several of Sandeman's New Europe tours now. I've been on the Liverpool, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Edinburgh,  and London. This was going to be my sixth tour with this company. It is advertised as a free walking tour and there is no obligation for you to pay but it is a nice thing to do. The tour guides are freelancers usually students with history degrees of the country you are in. From what I have gathered they have to give a cut of how many people are in their tour for the day to the company and then they keep the tips given at the end of their tours based on how much you enjoyed them.

I have never had a bad tour with them so far. In Madrid, we were unable to take the tour in 2009 do to some unrest in the tourism companies but I have not had any lacklustre experiences with the company. They usually last around three hours and give you the history of the city and go over some of the main sights.

The tour in Lisbon starts at 11 am or 2 pm at the Camões Monument in the Largo de Camões. This is very close to Baixa/Chiado metro stop and Largo Chiado. 

I do not have an exact list of where we went as I was just staring at the beautiful buildings and the amazing weather we were having. We did go to Chiado and Bairro Alto. The guide told us about the Carnation Revolution, Salazar Dictatorship, the Great Earthquake of 1755.

I loved seeing all the different tiles on the buildings. They are known as azulejos and there is even a whole museum dedicated to them.  They are everywhere in Lisbon and all of Portugal. Decorating almost all the buildings in unique patterns and colours. We walked through the town, visiting a Eric Kayser for some refreshments and toilet break.

The tour ended in Praça do Comércio which is a large square containing a statue of  King José I and the Rua Augusta Arch. The Arch has six columns and is adorned with statues of historical figures.

Sandmans New Lisbon Free Walking Tour. 11 am and 2 pm. Camões Monument in the Largo de Camões.  Everyday of the week.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Morning in Lisbon

My first morning in Lisbon started early. I left Restauradores Square and used the metro to get to Santa Apolónia where I walked up to Campo Santa Clara to visit the Feira da Ladra or Thieve's Market which is Lisbon's flea market that operates from 9 am to 6 pm Saturdays and Tuesdays.

Leaving the market empty handed I wandered the streets of Alfama, finding myself with some beautiful views over the city. I sought out graffiti which seemed to be on every corner. The one I wanted to find the most was the famous Fado graffiti known as Fado Vadio. I found the decorated wall in the Escadinhas de São Cristóvão.

After locating the wall piece and admiring the amazing art, I headed out of Alfama to Rossio Square enjoying the fountains and monument. I spent most of the morning attempting to find where Sandeman's New Lisbon Tours met. I had written down the location but the map I had picked up at the airport was very poor. I managed to work my way through Chiado and found the square which was Largo de Camões. Not realising it, I sat down at Café A Brasileira, the famous cafe in Lisbon opened in 1905. It has a statue of Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet sitting on a bench outside of it. I did not actually order anything as I wasn't sure if I wanted to eat anything there. Giving up on the cafe, oblivious to its history I headed around the corner to Sacolinha on Rua Paiva de Andrada where I enjoyed a refreshing orange juice and a strawberry tart. I was able to use the toilets and relax a bit before the tour which was set to meet in the nearby square at 11 am.

This was a post about my first morning in Lisbon. There will be a separate post detailing more about the walking tour I took.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Recap: April 26

On Thursday night I returned from my amazing trip to Lisbon. I left for Lisbon on Friday the 18th, arriving around midnight before catching the metro to my hostel. I stayed at Goodmorning Lisbon Hostel which was amazing with all of the activities it offered each night. They really made me feel welcome and I enjoyed my stay with them. I stayed in the four bedroom female dorm and there was a small balcony you could step out on and enjoy the view of Restauradores Square. The hostel was very accessible to all the main areas of Lisbon, the metro right in front of it and a short walk to Rossio train station to get to Sintra.

On my first morning, I took the metro over to the the flea market that happens at Campo de Santa Clara every Saturday and Tuesday. It is also known as the Feira da Ladra or Thieve's Market. I made sure to keep an eye on my belongings as I strolled through the market which was mostly people selling different things. Nothing caught by eye so I headed to explore Alfama a bit then took in a Sandeman's Free Walking Tour. The guide was really great so I joined him on his Alfama Tour and enjoyed it just as much.

On Sunday, I went to Sintra with We Hate Tourism Tours and visited the Monserrate Palace, Cabo de Roca and Cascais. 

Monday, I walked to Rato then to Marquês de Pombal to hunt for grafitti. Enjoying an amzing hot dog on Avenida da Liberdade. I went up the Santa Justa Lift and did a bit of shopping in 

Armazéns do Chiado. I rode Tram 28 around the city and explored the Prazeres Cemetary before having a bite to eat in the Estrela Gardens.

Tuesday, I ventured by tram to Belém where I visited the Tower, Padrão dos Descobrimentos (The Monument to the Discoveries), Jerónimos Monastery, Pastéis de Belém to try their famous custard tarts. I also went to the National Coach Museum before taking the bus back into the city centre. I enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Mercado da Ribeira then took in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga which had a wonderful collection of art.

Wednesday, I took the train back to Sintra, taking the bus up to the Pena Palace where I explored the grounds, went horse riding and got lost. Taking the bus down to Sintra, I enjoyed lunch at the famous Pastelaria Piriquita. I walked to Quinta da Regaleira, a beautiful estate which I happily explored. I walked back to Sintra, enjoying a delicious hamburger for dinner before taking the train back to Lisbon.

My last day Thursday, I had almost ran out of all my Euros. I used what I had left to buy my metro ticket to the airport to make sure I did not spend the money. I walked to Alfama and visited the Castle of Saint George, using my credit card to pay for it. The views from the castle were stunning and I enjoyed climbing the walls. Spending the last of my coins on an amazing gelato, I wandered back to my hostel. Picking up my bag and heading for the airport.

Now I'm home. Trying to work on more posts. I sadly have not done a lot on my Ireland trip and there are so many photos to share from that as well as Portugal. Please be patient with me.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Recap: April 12

Work has again been hectic. The children are off school so it has been very busy, add the Grand National and even more busy. It seemed most people came shopping thinking it would be quiet due to the Grand National. Big mistake. A nearly full week of 8:30-6 last week and now this coming week is the same. All but Friday because of course I am flying to Lisbon. I have just booked a tour to Sintra and other areas for next Sunday so I am very excited. Just have to push through these next few days then it is fun in the sun for me. I spent my Saturday out walking around Mossley Hill and Aigburth in the sunshine, even befriending a cat and managing to give it belly rubs. Today, I called both my parents and got my laundry done. I started to look at flights for August and also attempted to pack. Will need to get that done at least before Thursday.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


On Sunday my plan was for us to wake early and head to Versailles bright and early to be there at nine. We enjoyed an interesting breakfast at a cafe near our Airbnb before casually heading to Versailles. We had already purchased tickets online so did not need to queue to get inside. We entered the palace and strolled through the halls. Though I had been to Versailles years before, I enjoyed every room. The high ceilings, the furniture, the paintings. The whole idea that this had been someones home. Those someone of course being the French royals including Marie Antoinette.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Recap: April 5

Sunday's always come around and it surprises me that another week has passed so quickly. Of course, when the week is actually happening it often seems to be going as fast as molasses. The weekend arrives and its over in a blink of an eye. Luckily as it is Easter, I had Friday and Monday to add to my weekend. Not much happened through the week working 8:30-6 most days. My most eventful day just happened to be today. The Liverpool Food and Drink Festival started today but I did not really feel like going. I met Jamie at her's and we walked to Tavern Company for some brunch. I enjoyed the Banana Foster Pancakes and boy we're they delicious.

We left the restaurant with full stomachs but no plan. We walked through Wavertree Playground and decided to stop in on the fun fair that was taking place. All the rides had such amusing graphics on them. Deciding to enjoy one ride, we got onto one that dragged you around. I think I remember it being called the Zipper when we had them at Sea Fair in my hometown. The song that played while we waited for the ride to start was quite amusing. Had us laughing.

After our ride, we walked through the Playground and then down to Smithdown where we caught the bus into town. Wandering around, we picked up milkshakes at McDonalds and headed over to the Odeon. We decided to watch the Water Diviner which was the perfect mix of good and sad. I had thought A Little Chaos was out but it wasn't listed so will have to wait to watch that. So far my Easter has been quite good.