Visiting Coimbra, Porto and Lisbon in 3 days seems a bit too optimistic? Challenge accepted!
Landed at 9.00 AM Friday morning in Porto and off we go!
First important tip: take the Via Verde electronic device. The toll system is a real mess in Portugal! Some motorways only have beeping radars and not real stop. Several times the device beeped without us having even noticed we were on a paying motorway! Really strange!
Sugar & Salt: Lunch in Aveiro, a picturesque cute small city, for a traditional bacalhau and oves moles, the town’s specialty. The bacalhau (only 3€50) I ate in between locals a Pastelaria-Padaria Rainha d’Aveiro was way too salty for me (I’ll need to taste other ways of cooking it!) and the oves moltes nearly gave me a hyperglycemia attack. It’s basically egg yolks and sugar – tip: buy one to taste but not more!
Back to school: the beautiful university of Coimbra, and especially its impressive and peaceful library, is a must. Don’t be afraid by the Harry-Potter-looking people: there are just students (who have successfully passed their first year)!
Tip: stop for a snack in one of the uni’s canteen to have a taste of the student life in Coimbra!
The hostel I stayed in is worth mentioning: the Seranata Hostel is perfectly situated, has modern facilities and a beautiful staircase and decoration in general! The only bad point: there’s no way you will be able to park close if travelling by car.
On the way to the capital city, nice lunch break at Supertubos, a small beach bar on Peniche’s surfing spot.
Great first impressions in Lisbon: first wide, clean and bright avenues and then towards the River charming small streets. It got even better when visiting the San Jorge Castle: couples were dancing tango on the top of the castle at sunset. It was time to head down to eat sardines and grilled meat in narrow old streets of Alfama. Tip: Come in June to celebrate San António with the locals – your clothes will smell of sardines for six months but you will have great memories!
Mojitos and caipirinhas await you in the Bairro Alto area. Be careful: you think you’re ordering a normal size cocktail for 5€ but end up with a 50cl drink! Not easy to find your way back to your hostel after that!
Nice Sunday morning in Belem: pleasant walk along the river between the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (tip: not in the mood to queue after last night’s giant mojitos? The entrance to the church is free!) and the impressive Torre de Belém (which was initially – in 1515 – built in the middle of the Tagus river!).
The road back from Lisbon to Porto took a bit more than 3 hours.
I must admit o have been quite disappointed by Porto (maybe because not being a fan of port). We explored the city centre quite rapidly (and it would have been even quicker if we did not have to go up and down!) and were relatively unimpressed. Walking along the Douro River was nice but ruined by tourism.
Places I will remember? The azulejos (blue ceramic paintings) of the São Bento station, Lello e Irmã a book shop where you will not be allowed to take pictures of the crazy staircase that would have inspired J.K. Rowling and… the Mc Donald’s situated in a stunning Art deco café. And to eat/have a drink? Go to Galeria de Paris (Rua Galeria de Paris, 56) and admire the collection of eclectic objects while waiting for your meal (and you will wait for a bit…)!
Definitely have to go back for more time to explore the city better. I don’t like to leave on a bad impression!
Exhausted after these three packed days, I need another holiday…