Since I first travelled solo, I’ve resolved to travel to a new destination every new year. It was supposed to be an annual getaway from the general banality of Calgary life. However, with my lack of funds (and job), I’ve postponed any travel plans for the past two years. So, I’m very excited to spend the next two weeks in Portugal with me, myself and I!
I always opt to travel alone, because there is so much freedom in doing trips solo. When you travel alone, you need not worry about strictly following an itinerary, nevermind the chagrin of accommodating to others’ whims. I can do things at my own pace and take time to unwind & relax on the patio or beach (or wherever).
As I’ve done with my older travel blog, I want to chronicle my entire trip on this blog. You won’t be able to remember everything when you travel, so I want to immortalize my travels on this blog for future reminiscent sentimentality.
Daily travel blog posts:
- Beautiful First Day in Lisbon! Portugal Day 1
- Cool Cafes in Lisbon for my Birthday! Portugal Day 2
- Taking the Train from Lisbon to Porto! Portugal Day 3
- Port Wine Tasting in Porto! Portugal Day 4
- Taking a Day Trip to Braga from Porto! Portugal Day 5
Two weeks in Portugal
Why Portugal? I am a foodie through and through, and I travel to eat the cacophony of world cuisines. Portugal was in my bucket list for one reason: pastéis de nata, a rich & creamy egg tart with a brûléed top, which was created by monks in the Middle Ages.
It might be the initial reason, but I am now also excited about experiencing the beautiful architecture, the varied rich history, the cultural eccentricities of the Portuguese!
Sintra, for example, is a defining symbol of Portugal’s history. The city exemplifies architecture emulated by Moorish, Roman and Gothic influences, and has seen the course of Portuguese history from the Moorish occupation to the European Age of Discovery.
The more I research about Portugal, the more I am falling in love and getting pumped for the trip! I can’t wait!
Day 1 – 2: Lisbon
- Celebrate my birthday in Lisbon (July 10)!
- Belém Tower, Pastéis de Belém, Alfama, and St. George’s Castle.
- Explore Mercado da Ribeira for the foooood!
Day 3 – 6: Porto & area
- Sip Porto’s port riverside.
- Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar, Livraria Lello, Torre dos Clérigos, Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar.
- Visit Braga, Amarante and Esposende (day trips).
Day 7: Coimbra
- Explore the young vibe of Coimbra.
- Visit the historical University of Coimbra (and Biblioteca Joanina).
Day 8 – 14: Lisbon & area
- Visit Sintra, Cascais, Mosteiro da Batalha, Tomar and Jeronimos Monastery (day trips).
- Explore some cute cafes and shops in Lisbon.
- End the trip with sunset views at Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte.
I opted not to visit the Algarve region for this trip; from my research, the region is a prime holiday destination especially in July, making it quite busy, crowded and expensive. The Algarve, Azores and Madeira will be separate trip on its own. 🙂
Eating in Portugal
Portugal may not have an instantly recognizable cuisine, but I am excited to try the multitude of flavours found in this small country from the infamous port wine to the iconic pastéis de nata.
I am committed to eating plant-based while I’m in Portugal, but I understand that it might be hard to do this all the time (considering I neither speak nor understand Portuguese). That said, however, I do not doubt that Portugal will have many plant-based options in the country (as with many EU countries).
This is a great opportunity for me to gather influences from regional cuisines and apply it to my own cooking and baking back home. I want to try impart Portuguese flavours and techniques to my baking and create unique desserts!
I’ve said this before, but I do allow myself non-vegan food sometimes when travelling to places that I visit only once in my lifetime. I know this may be a contentious issue, but I am at peace with my decision since it is not my primary lifestyle choice.
If you’re planning on visiting Portugal, here are some tips I’ve found.
The national passenger train company is called Comboios de Portugal (or CP). It is recommended to travel via train if exploring the whole country.
If you’re travelling between different cities, book your train tickets at www.cp.pt/passageiros/en. You can also check the timetables for specific dates and trips.
- The central train station in Lisbon (also known as Lisboa) is Santa Apolonia.
- The central train station in Porto (also known as Oporto) is São Bento.
There are different types of trains:
- Urbano (U) — city trains operated by CP.
- Regional (R) — regional trains operating outside city areas.
- Inter-Regional (IR) — medium-distance stopping at main regional stations.
- Intercidades (IC) — long-distance trains stopping only at main stations.
- Alfa Pendular (AP) — fastest & more luxurious long-distance stopping only at main stations.
- International (IN) — trains serving international travel in Europe.