By London Girl
It’s the time of the year again when we’re rewarded with a week of post-exam break (to go on Eurotrips!). For this year, we decided to head to Portugal/Spain for a much-needed getaway from the dreadful and chilly English weather.
WHERE TO STAY:
€19 per night (with breakfast included) for a private ensuite room that’s comparable to a hotel (the room was sparkling clean!). Recommended only if you’re travelling light; you wouldn’t want to drag a heavy luggage up and down the slopes (like what we did)!
So anw, we reached Lisbon at 10.50am and boarded a bus to head towards to city centre. Arrived at Hostel 4U after an exhausting 10-minute hike up the slope from Rossio station. (Remember to wear comfortable shoes when you’re visiting Lisbon or you’ll definitely regret it. It’s known as the City of 7 Hills!)
Since it was lunchtime and we were famished, we heeded the receptionist’s recommendation and popped into the restaurant next door for some Portuguese food. The restaurant seemed to be pretty popular with locals as it was packed within minutes of our arrival.
They had a Special Lunch Menu comprising 4 courses (soup of the day + main + drink + dessert) for only €8. Cheap or what?! To make things even better, they only charged us €20 for 3 people. :D Anyway, the food was pretty decent (typical Portuguese home-style cooking) and the portions were huge. Both LF & I were so stuffed towards the end that we decided to skip dessert. A had a chocolate cake for dessert and she claimed that it was delicious.
After lunch, we decided to explore the city and joined the Lisbon Chill-Out Free Walking Tour. Fortunately for us, the tour was rather personalized because there were only 4 of us in the group (3 of us plus another girl). Rafael was our guide and he gave us a really detailed summary of the city’s history (like the 1755 earthquake); the whole tour felt like an interactive story-telling session! We managed to cover places Bairro Alto, Chiado, Alfama, and the tour ended in front of the Igreja da Graça, (Graça Church) where we managed to get a stunning view of the sunset.
We headed back to the hostel to recharge for a while after the tour since it was just nearby. Impressed by the great lunch recommendation from the hostel receptionist, we decided to approach him again for dinner recommendations. This time, he suggested that we have dinner at Resto do Chapito as it had a “magnificent view of Lisbon” and his friend worked there. We took sooooo long to find the place and almost gave up along the way but we persevered because we felt bad since he had already called his friend to make a reservation for us. Eventually, after 20-30 minutes’ worth of hiking up and down the slopes, we found the restaurant! Yay!
The view turned out to be disappointing (in our opinions), probably because of the poor lighting. Nevertheless, the restaurant overlooks the city and the view would probably be much more breathtaking if one were to go for lunch/during sunset. The food, although a tad pricey, turned out to be more mind-blowing than the view. As we weren’t really hungry and the portions were really huge, we ordered the Battered Cod and Braised Pork Cheeks to share. Nomssss.
Having read many raving reviews about the famous Pastéis de Belém bakery, we figured that it’d be a travesty if we didn’t get to try it during our stay in Lisbon. Hence, we woke up at 7am the next morning to catch the tram to Belem (tram ride took about 20 minutes), walked straight to the famous Pastéis de Belém (thank goodness there was no queue!), bought 6 Pastel de Natas (aka Portuguese custard tarts) and left immediately to catch the tram back. Grabbed our luggages from the hostel and took a cab to the bus terminal to leave for Faro. We made it in time! YOLO! :D
Now, for a review of THE FAMOUS PASTEL DE NATAS…
Sachets of cinnamon powder and sugar were given together with these cute little things but we chose to eat them plain. We tried them while they were still warm and they tasted heavenly! The custard was silky and sweet (like tauhuay!) and the pastry crust was full of buttery goodness. The tarts tasted fresh even after about 9 hours (we had them for tea break again). Mmmmmm… now I miss it.
Btw, we stopped to take so many pictures outside the shop that the shop assistant actually invited us to view the baking process in the kitchen. HAHA. #asiantourists
PS. If you have more time in Lisbon, perhaps you might want to consider spending some time in the Belem district, catching a Fado performance or visiting the castle. :)