Our short flight from Marrakech -> Lisbon brought us to our fifth and final continent of the trip: Europe! Although we are only halfway through our journey, we will now spend the next 10 weeks hopping around Europe. A wet and hilly Lisbon, Portugal was the first stop.
A few things that stuck out to us immediately were:
Fish dominates the food game in Portugal. We have been to some incredible restaurants on this trip, but A Cevicheria in the Principe Real neighborhood of Lisbon may take the cake. No reservations, 20 seats, with a giant octopus hanging from the ceiling. The food (and signature pisco sour) was insanely good. Another very memorable dining experience was Cervejaria Ramiro. They offset their no reservations and customary long line with a self-service beer tap outside. The seafood is so fresh the waiter literally picks the fish right from the tank to show you before preparing. Both a must when visiting Lisbon!
We drove an hour and a half from Lisbon to the town of Fatima, which is considered one of the most important Catholic places in the world dedicated to the Blessed Mother. In 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared six times to three shepherd children. These apparitions were verified by the Catholic Church in the ‘30s and since then millions of Catholic pilgrims visit the site of the apparitions and Our Lady of Fatima every year. We attended mass in Portuguese at the Chapel of Apparitions and had our rosaries blessed. A very special experience!
From Fatima, we continued on to Nazare, which is a famous spot for big wave surfing competitions.Surfers from all over come to surf the record 100 foot waves of Nazare. When we were there, the waves didn’t surpass fifteen feet, but the beach has live webcams, so we had fun tracking the waves for the rest of the trip. In the summer, we could only imagine how cute the beach town where we had lunch was.
After 3 nights in Lisbon, we went west to a small coastal town in Torres Vedras called Povoa de Penafirme. On the way, we stopped in Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Exploring the Pena Palace and Caste of the Moors in the fog added to the allure of the site. We also saw the Carmo Convent, a restored medieval Carmelite convent!
On the coast, we stayed at the coolest hotel/retreat, Areias do Siexo, which included complimentary yoga, bikes, garden tours and a movie theatre. The food (and complimentary wine before dinner) was incredible. The hotel also owns a great restaurant in town, right on the beach, which was equally as delicious. We can’t wait to go back to this hotel in the summertime - would be the perfect trip for a family or group of friends.
We were sad to say bye to Lindsay and Drew, but have some unforgettable memories of our time in Morocco and Portugal!
Once our friends left, we wanted to check out the Alentejo region. After a failed attempt to rent a car in Torres Vedras because neither of us can drive stick shift, we found an automatic car rental place and drove east toward the Portugese/Spanish border. We stayed at a picturesque farmhouse that offered complimentary bikes, wine tasting & tours, horseback riding, and a killer spa & fitness center. The wine and olive oil is produced on the property and served at their farm to table restaurant. One night was not enough...we cannot wait to come back to the countryside of Portugal!
We heard a lot about the northern city of Porto and the southern Algarve region. Both are places we would like to come back to someday, in addition to the Azores (archipelago islands). Next time we will definitely visit during the summer months so that we can enjoy the beach and water activities!