Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Charming Town of Sintra

A quaint little town worth the trip, Sintra

I was staying in the Sinatra mountains so a day trip to Sintra was just just 10 minutes away.  After doing my research on what to do in Lisbon, a day in Sintra as at the top of the list.   Given I was staying in the Sintra mountains, it was just 10 minutes away.  However, for those staying in Lisbon, I would still recommend this as a day trip.  It is such a quaint little town and has several attractions to see, the National Palace of Pena, Quinta da Regalia, The Moorish Castle and the National Palace of Sintra.  Unfortunately, we did not get to tour much beyond the National Palace of Pena because it was Christmas Eve and everything was closely early for the holiday.  I had heard from more than one person that the gardens at Quintal da Regalia were beautiful and to be missed, so I'm bummed we missed them!  However, we did get to see The Pena palace and it looks like a set from a Disney film.

We then had a late lunch at a little restaurant in the middle of the square right by the National Palace of Sinatra.  It seemed really touristy so we didn't expect much but it was one of the places actually open.  We were pleasantly surprised by how good the food was!  The Traveling Hillbilly recommends the vegetable soup.  It was more of a potato soup with vegetables, great comfort food on a cool day.

I hope you all get the chance to visit one day.


Pengiuns, Sharks, Eels and More!

The aquarium in Lisbon is supposed to be one of the best in the world, so we had to go there.   Plus it was Christmas Day and one of the few things that was open.  Turns out that Christmas day is their busiest day of the year.  Despite the crowds, we really enjoyed it.  The place is huge, so it didn't
actually feel too crazy.  They have animals from all regions/oceans, the Atlantic, the Pacific, Indian and so on.  We saw penguins, sea otters, sharks, starfish, eels, sea dragons and all kinds of cool things from the sea.  It is a clear and easy to follow path.  You start at the top and then get a chance to go "below the surface" of the sea at on the lower level.   It was a great way to spend Christmas afternoon.

The Traveling Hillbilly would recommend it for all ages!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Day 1 in Lisbon

Started the day off with a stroll around the beautiful grounds of the hotel.   There's just something about an early morning walk before everyone else is out and about that brings peace to your soul.  No big wildlife sightings, beyond the ducks in the lagoon, but still an enjoyable stroll.   So glad I decided to stay up in the Sintra mountains.  It's a bit of a drive from Lisbon, but worth the drive.

After my morning stroll, it was time to head to Lisbon to meet friends for lunch at Belcanto, the first restaurant in Lisbon to get 2 Michelin Stars.  Beclanto is one of the several restaurants chef José Avillez owns in Lisbon.  It did not disappoint.  We decided on the chef's tasting menu with wine pairings.  Now it was not a cheap selection, but it as a wonderful way to spend the first afternoon.  The food was great and the presentation incredible.  The whole experience was a journey and one I think we'd all go on again.  My personal favorite dish, was the truffle porridge.  Yummy!!!   

We left the restaurant completely stuffed, but happy.  We walked for a bit before heading to the rooftop bar at the Barrio Alto Hotel.  We had been told it had one of the best views in the city and was the place to go see the sunset.   Given our long and leisurely lunch, it was actually already dark by the time we got to the hotel!  But the view of the city at night was still stunning.   However, we later stopped at Silk to have a nightcap and I have to say the view from there was stunning as well.   During my research, I found a lot of information about the amazing views in Lisbon.  After the two we experienced today, I'm looking forward to more. 

All in all a truly great way for the Traveling Hillbilly to start off the 2016 holiday adventure!