The people in Ireland are so very gracious. Having visited once before with my Mom back in the 80’s, I remembered this. It is truly an enchanted isle. Part of our cheap flight regime included leaving Dublin for Lisbon at 6:15am. This meant leaving our Airbnb around 4am. Ack! When we asked about reserving a taxi to pick us up so early, our hostess arranged for her flat-mate to take us to the airport in the middle of the night. That was over and above in the hospitality department, to be sure. Thanks again Danny, and Fionnuala.
We did manage to sneak in a trip to the Guinness Brewery during our less than 24 hours in Ireland.
The upside to our early flight was that we landed in Lisbon at about 9am. Once we arranged for a cab to take us to our lodgings, the city would be ours. We stayed our first four days in the Belem neighborhood and, that was an excellent choice. There are so many monuments, gardens, museums, and amazing restaurants in Belem that one could spend weeks exploring them. And they were all a short walk from our adorable Airbnb apartment. Our host Antonio, couldn’t have been nicer. He left us a nice bottle of Portuguese wine, and his assistant Pedro brought us keys and some fruit to enjoy during our stay. He also gave us the low down on the best places to eat and how to get around via public transport. They were the hosts with the most during our trip.
Lisbon was awe-inspiring. The weather was nice with clear blue skies and about 60-65 degrees. We walked down to the center of Belem and the gardens across from the Jeronimos Monastery. It was a short stroll along the water from there to Belem Tower. This 15th century fortress is a fantastic piece of architecture with great views of the city and the Tagus river. Another important tip: buy your tickets to see the tower at the information center, which is just down the hill from it. When you get to the tower itself, you will see two lines; one to buy tickets and another much shorter one for those who already have tickets! After exploring the castle for an hour or so, we were hungry, so we headed back to the main street with all the shops and restaurants.
Here is the best part of a visit to Portugal: It is hard to go wrong in the eating and drinking departments. While we did have great advice from our hosts regarding where to dine, we never had a bad meal during our trip. Everything was so good! At first glance, some of the little places we went to looked unassuming, but the food was excellent no matter where we went. The seafood is so fresh, and the meats do delicious that I hazard to say that Portugal has some of the best food and wine in the world. We picked a spot to have lunch, and the maître‘d asked us what we would like to have. When we hesitated, he offered to choose the best dishes for us. I had a cod dish with vegetables and Joe had pork. Both were great. And so was the white wine that I had with the fish. Joe had beer, Sagres being the foremost brand of beer in Lisbon. Sagres and Super Bock, in Porto, are described at the Miller/Coors of Portugal. Very light style brews. Joe and I agreed that we liked the Super Bock a little better than the Sagres.
After lunch, we strolled the Rua de Belem and saw a huge line to get into the Pasteis de Belem shop. It is famous for the little custard pies that have been made there since 1837. Later for that, we thought! We would come back when, hopefully, it would be less crowded.