Our trip had finally come – Portugal here we come! I had packed a few days prior to departure, Mike the night before, so we woke up on Thursday, October 11, hit the hot tub, took the dogs for a walk and hit the road! This was actually the earliest we had ever left for a trip, so it was a pleasant, non stressful morning. I had made a reservation at ParkDIA the night before, saving $2 per day, so we were off to a good start. Our total for the car(10 days) was only $70!
Our first flight to Philadelphia got delayed about an hour, which wasn’t a problem as our flight to Lisbon didn’t leave until 9:19 pm. After grabbing a quick bite & a beer, we were off on our first leg. We would be traveling for the next 24hours. Boarded, about to take off, and the captain signals that hurricane Michael’s wrath was interfering with the original flight route….so our runway path got shutdown and we had to wait for something to open up. Almost three hours later, at midnight, we finally took off. At least Mike and I didn’t have to share our row with anyone and were able to sleep a bit. I use that term very loosely as Mike is 6″4 and really doesn’t fold up nicely. But he made the best of it.
The flight, albeit extended 3 hours due to delays and turbulence, got us safely to Lisbon at 11:30 am local time, where we promptly got off the plane, exchanged money, and asked about the trains to Sinatra. In my original research, I thought we’d have to head into Lisbon’s town center to Rossio station but the friendly airport guide let us know to take the metro red lineup Ouieutte, get off and take the train to Sintra. Simple right!? It actually was extremely simple. And we actually made all connections without having to wait (even stopping at the ticket counter to buy tickets for the metro & Sintra).
Getting off at Sintra, the last stop on the train, I pulled up our Airbnb address, where we’d drop our bags and head out to grab a bite and explore. I had let our Airbnb owner know I wouldn’t have service, as I don’t get an international plan when traveling – both a liberating and terrifying concept, as we had rented Airbnbs throughout the country to were relying on WIFI at the places and google maps for directions. So glad I didn’t fret too much over this though, because we got to our temporary home with zero trouble and found the owners daughter cleaning. We were able to leave our heavy bags, as we were about an hour early, grabbed the key, and took off into the great unknown, in search of good food and refreshment. It was about 2:15pm at this time and the need to stretch our bones was something fierce. The weather was still humid, and although it wasn’t hot, hot, it was a perfect temperature to walk around in a dress or shorts, comfortably.
The narrow streets were alive with people, with tuk tuks and small vehicles whipping through the alleys. Seeing the local traffic, I was extremely glad we didn’t get a car for the first jaunt. Parking on hills, as steep as they come, in unfamiliar territory is not my cup of tea. Our digs were in what seemed to be a good location and we found a beautiful restaurant, Sabores do Mercado, to spend the next hour and a half. Wine, fish, local beer, olives….we had arrived!
After filling our bellies, we decided scope out the sites we wanted to check out in the morning. The train station had an information center so we walked down, asked about Quinta da Ragaleira – an old villa with extensive grounds and tunnel. Also on the list, Pena Palace, sitting high atop Sintra. Well, we walked up, and up, through the Parque da Liberdade, all the way to the top of the hill….to find a great deal of cafés, restaurants & shops….just not the castle circuit. Well, at least we got a good walk after having been cramped up in an airplane! We realized we had walk d all the way to Sao Pedro, a completely different town, which we’d find a shortcut to Pena Palace the next day. It pays to stay in a town a few days so you can scout out the sights.
The 6 mile walk had left us ready to put our feet up, so we headed down, stopped at a local grocery to get two bottles of wine and some water, then went in for the night. The dollar isn’t strong in Europe, but we found things to be relatively inexpensive here. Lunch, for instance, was 36Euro – but Mike had three beers and I had two large glasses of wine. Vino in the Mercado ranged from 1.50 – 3.40Euro – a steal, even with the conversion!
Although it was early, we had only sleept a few hours on the plane and were running on empty. At the house, we unpacked a bit, talked, drank wine and planned our next day’s adventures…and end d up in bed at 9pm. Cheers to our first day in Portugal!