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Portugal

    Should you go to Lisbon or Porto for a Portuguese city break? [Travel Linkup]

    It’s fair to say that I fell in love with Portugal on both of my city breaks. This fun loving country seems to be quite the winter sun destination for 2019, and I’ve had quite a few people contact me recently asking whether they should visit Lisbon or Porto for their Portuguese city break.

    What to do on a long weekend to Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Both Lisbon and Porto are unique cities, each with an individual character – and sadly it’s not always practical to visit both in the same short trip.

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    Travel Takeaways (a literal bite into the Travel Linkup topic.)

    This month for the travel linkup we’re talking all things take-aways; souvenirs, lessons, that sort of metaphysical meandering. But, I’m going to go a little more literal. Travel Takeaways.

    Rossopomodoro Pizza Florence in London Adventures of a London Kiwi

    As in actual foods, usually found in cartons, that have been spoilt by visiting their country of origin or somewhere that really surprised us. It’s the gourmet equivalent of meeting your heroes, and once you start travelling you’ll always look back on amazing food that you probably can’t quite recreate genuinely enough. Read more

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    A Pocketful of Porto Recommendations: Eating and Drinking

    With the time we had in Porto, and a definite manifesto of nothing much with a side of custard tarts, we sampled as much of the local cuisine as we could. Especially as we were in the namesake city of my favourite fortified wine. Known as a hub for foodie travellers, for the most part we simply let local recommendations and google guide us, and in the process discovered a few lovely spots to settle into that didn’t break the bank (in line with the challenge we were set).

    Where to eat in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Nb: when planning your days, everywhere we went was really lovely, but rather laid back – so don’t expect London-style hustle – except in tourist haunts where they’ll want to flip tables as soon as they can (but why would you want that?)

    Brunch:
    Googling furiously in the mornings for recommendations, we found three cute spots to park ourselves whilst planning the day:

    Apartamento – Rua de Cedofeita

    Low-key, great coffee, angry birds for decoration and crepes drizzled with condensed milk. What isn’t to love?

    Hungry Biker – Rua das Taipas

    Ranking on Tripadvisor for the keywords ‘brunch’, ‘chia’ and ‘smoothie’, we spotted this little hipster gem on our first wander through the city, and had to go back. The walk up the curving hill was worth it though, when our chia laden dishes came out – tropical porridge for me, French toast for the RunawayKiwi.

    Where to eat in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Noshi Coffee – Rua do Carmo Across from the tile-laden Church that we must have passed a gazillion times on our wanderings around the city, Noshi Coffee was a really cute find – if again a little slow. We ordered our breakfasts of pancakes (quite delicate, accompanied by goji berries and nut butter) and toast respectively, and my honeyed ice coffee was really scrumptious.

    Where to eat in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Late Lunch/Dinner


    Grupo Desportivo Infante D. Henrique – Cais da Estiva

    My second favourite meal we stumbled on by accident. With a name almost longer than the restaurant is wide, this is a locals haunt that doesn’t really speak English (bar on the chalkboard menu.) But, it most definitely isn’t a touristy spot (as we were warned to avoid them) and between the amazing sunset views and butter and garlic infused prawns I want to return already.

    Where to eat in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to eat in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Barão Fladgate restaurant, Taylors Wine Cellar – Rua do Choupelo

    We didn’t actually see much of the Taylor’s Port wine cellars in the heart of the historic area of Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river from the old city centre, but we did settle in for a delicious lunch overlooking the terracotta rooftops and Duoro river below. The Barão Fladgate restaurant was a welcome respite from the sunshine, with a light and intriguing menu. My salad was perfectly executed, Rebecca’s lamb looked perfectly cooked and our raspberry desserts were scrumptious.

    Where to eat in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to eat in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    And the terrace view was ok, I guess.

    Where to eat in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    After lunching at Taylor’s, we made our way down the hill towards the river, sampling port as we went (and going downhill is definitely the right order to do it rather than struggle further up hill later in the day!)

    Where To Enjoy Port
    The historic area of Vila Nova de Gaia is where the infamous port caves are, and we just followed the signs and wandered in for a taste here and there. We tried Taylor’s dry white port with lunch, a tasting flight in Osprey’s, the delicious rosé port in Croft and a cheeky quick snifter in Augustino’s.

    Our joint favourite was the rosé, so one night we arranged for a bottle and a few pasteis de nata to join us for an evening feast celebrating our last night.

    Where to eat in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to eat in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    So, Porto definitely is delicious. Oh, and forget the organised port cellar tours – just hop across the river and take yourself on a self-guided wander.

    { pin for later }

    Where to eat and drink in Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    Portugal: A Peaceful Long Weekend In Porto

    One of the few regrets I had about my long weekend last year exploring Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais was not being able to fit a trip to Porto into the diary. I mean whilst you’re in Portugal, you should be exploring as much as possible, right?

    Or is that just being greedy?

    What to do on a long weekend to Porto Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were press guests of Cheapflights in Oporto, but all planning, mischief and thoughts are totally mine (and to be fair, Rebecca’s). 

    Luckily enough, a few weeks ago I was set a challenge by Cheapflights to book a long weekend away in Porto for two adults for the princely sum of £550. Nope, not each, that’s split between us. Keeping things easy, breezy and on the affordable side for a slice of sunshine, all for the cost of a night in a gorgeous luxury hotel, or pair of designer shoes, we spun out a lovely little break from London.

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    Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal – one of the world’s most insane castles

    Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal is one of the world’s most insane, beautiful and fantastical castles.

    Around about this time last year, I scampered off for a long weekend in Lisbon. Not telling anyone that I was off on a solo adventure for the first time in years (the husband was on a boys weekend in Madrid – hilariously in the adjoining country) I girded my loins, arming myself with a tome of printouts + backups on my phone + backups emailed around the world, and settled in for a chilled out break entirely on my own terms.

    Pena Palace Day Trip Sintra Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Solo travel isn’t for everyone – it can be stressful, alarming when you’re left with your own thoughts and a bit lonesome when it comes to meals, but I really loved the change of pace (not that I don’t adore travelling with people). I simply tried to bear common sense in mind (not walking alone once night fell), made my journey to & from the airport as simple as simple as simple (a couple of metro trains) and booked in a couple of day trips where I was collected and chauffeured around.

    When we arrived, the sky was grey and dismal. Our ride had wound the way up the tiny, slightly vertiginous roads to an overwhelmingly disappointing view.

    Pena Palace Day Trip Sintra Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Pena Palace Day Trip Sintra Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    But as luck would have it, the micro-climate of Sintra pulled a rabbit out of the metaphorical hat as we walked along the hilly pathway to Pena Palace.

     “The whole mountain road is a garden, a wonderful combination of nature and art, the most beautiful walk you can imagine,” Hans Christian Anderson

    Pena Palace Day Trip Sintra Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Even thought I’d seen images beforehand, I really hadn’t been ready for the multi-hued magnificence of Palácio da Pena, or “Castelo da Pena” in the flesh.

    Pena Palace Day Trip Sintra Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    One of the ‘seven wonders of Portugal’, the castle’s history started in the Middle Ages when a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena was built on the top of the hill above Sintra. According to tradition, construction occurred after an apparition of the Virgin Mary. 

    “Built on a rock [the Palace] seems to come straight out of a fairy tale ” Richard Strauss

    Pena Palace Day Trip Sintra Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Located in the Sintra hills, the Park and Palace of Pena are the fruit of King Ferdinand II’s creative genius and the greatest expression of 19th-century romanticism in Portugal, with clear influences from the Manueline and Moorish styles of architecture (or so my research tells me). The palace was built is visible from any point in the park, which consists of a forest and luxuriant gardens with over five hundred different species of trees originating from the four corners of the earth (including New Zealand #represent).

    Pena Palace Day Trip Sintra Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi Pena Palace Day Trip Sintra Portugal Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Each room inside is a work of art. Built in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II, the palace was meant to be a summer home for the Portuguese royals, and indulged the King in all of his favourite architectural styles. I particularly adored the thought that living there, when you got sick of one style you could simply move your chair 90° and find an entirely new one.

    Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Said to be one of the greatest examples of Romantic architecture, it isn’t hard to see how this dazzling combination of passion and grandiosity has inspired generations.

    Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

     Those hips don’t lie…

    “Lo! Cintra’s glorious Eden intervenes In variegated maze of mount and glen. 

    Ah me! what hand can pencil guide, or pen, 

    To follow half on which the eye dilates 

    Through views more dazzling unto mortal ken 

    Than those whereof such things the bard relates, 

    Who to the awe-struck world unlocked Elysium’s gates?”

    Lord Byron

    Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

     Quite. Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    And the rest of this UNESCO World Heritage recognized town with two more castles isn’t so bad itself. Having exhausted our eyes, we wandered through the town (holiday speed setting 0.2km/hr)in search of lunch and the cakes that are a Sintra delicacy.

    Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I also made a new Australian friend on my tour who I cruised around Lisbon with for the next day or so. We discovered a few Lisbon highlights at sunset, sampled enough places to compile a ‘where to eat in Lisbon‘ list and talked each others ears off. 

    Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Lisbon in November sunshine was good.

    Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sintra Portugal Pena Palace Day Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Have you visited yet?

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