Long weekend in Lisbon and Sintra

Long weekend in Lisbon and Sintra

Let’s get those bags packed and head out once again to see the world! 

I’m so excited, I hope you are too. Maybe you’ve been looking at your wishlist and not knowing where to head first. Maybe the excitement of the travel bans lifting got you all worked up and you can’t pick a spot. 

Don’t worry I’ve got you covered. 

Lisbon and Sintra are two beautiful spots that you can visit over a long weekend. 

Check out here where to go, what to do, and some cool places to eat at as well.

1- The vintage tram 28 (Martim Moniz to Campo de Ourique)

You must have seen pictures of the tram carts dotted around social media and the internet. A quaint yellow tram that screeches and rattles through the narrow streets of the city. It passes through the popular tourist districts of Graca, Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela.

Many consider it a highlight of visiting Lisbon.

It’s worth exploring for a few stops, the whole length of the ride is very long especially if you take it back towards your starting point (which is likely to be the city center).

We took this on the evening of our arrival day for the whole round trip. It’s used as a mode of public transport as well as being a tourist attraction so expect it to be crammed at peak times.

2- Belem Tower: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Erected on the northern bank of the Tagus river to protect the city. It’s very close to the Jerónimos Monastery. You can climb all the way to the top and have lovely views of the river and the surrounding city. Photos in the tower or of the tower are really good for those Instamoments if that’s what floats your boat, I do recommend taking the time to visit it in spite of that.

3- Monument to the Discoveries

a 52-meter tall monument built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, who discovered the Azores, Madeira, and Cape Verde.

You can go up to the observation deck and have a panoramic view of the surroundings and a view over the Belem tower.

4- Jerónimos Monastery

A beautiful ornate monastery, built in the 1500s as a symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth, named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It does look stunning from the outside, although on the itinerary we didn’t manage to go in. It’s on my list for the next time I go to Lisbon.

The monastery is the birthplace of Pastel de Natas, with the monks and nuns using too many egg whites to starch their clothes the leftover egg yolks led to the birth of this delicious pastry. The recipe dates to over 100 years ago.

5- Praça do Comércio

I went in the evening with my friend Nazmaknows, I think it’s much more beautiful at night with all the lights around it. We wandered from there to Santa Justa lift, the alleyways, shops, and squares nearby in the Alfama district.

6- Santa Justa Lift and Miradoura de Santa Luzia viewpoint

We missed the sunset but still, the view from the top was well worth taking the time to witness.

aim to head there at sunset, I am told the view doesn’t disappoint 😉

7- The Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines

Would you like to have a can of sardines with your birth date on it?

If yes, then this is the place for you. You feel like you walked into a circus with music and carousels. The displays are very colorful and it makes a great idea for a unique souvenir. They also have sardine cans marked with dates of historic events.

If you pass by it you should stop and have a bit of a nosey.

8- Monserrate Palace

On our second day, we set off to Sintra.

A charming resort town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains near Lisbon. The forested town used to be a Royal sanctuary.

 

We first headed to Monserrate Palace, an Arab-influenced Moorish Palace. I found it absolutely stunning, a blend of Arab architecture and history weaved with Gothic and Indian styles surrounded by beautiful thick lush green English gardens.

9- Queluz National Palace

A beautiful and elegant Baroque palace partway between Lisbon and Sintra. The palace once served as an official Royal residence.

You can walk around the very impressive throne room where the Royals would have sat to receive their guests and then wander around their private apartments.

It’s not difficult to get lost in the beautifully landscaped surrounding gardens either.

10- Amoreiras Shopping Center

After getting back to Lisbon and getting some kip we headed out to have a wander around the shops and to find something to eat.

It was cold and raining so we decided to go to the mall!

Great shopping spot, with a nice collection of restaurants as well.
It is also home to Lisbon’s best 360 degrees viewpoint!
 

Other things to do in an evening in Lisbon would be to:

– Catch a Fado show, that’s the traditional, emotional, mournful, Portuguese music.

– People watching on the Rossio square. Yes, it’s a thing.

– Explore the nightlife in Barrio Alto.

Food for the soul in Lisbon

Dessert (always comes first)

You can’t go to Portugal and not have Pastel de Natas, now can you?

Manteigaria

Nothing beats the authentic taste that you get at this place. Such flaky crispy and light pastry, full with smooth creamy delightful custard, dressed with sprinkles of icing sugar and cinnamon powder.

I could eat them all day every day!

Pastéis de Belém is another place to try the national pastries. It’s close to the monastery and famed to be using the original recipe. The queue stretches a few meters outside and the service can be very slow.

Meals

Casa de Alentejo

A historic restaurant built as a meeting place for people from Portugal’s historical province Alentejo to meet and cultivate culture.

When you walk in you feel you’ve stepped into a Moorish palace with an impressive courtyard. It’s known for its elegant ballroom which serves as a massive dining room, meeting place, and a stage for many activities. Book ahead of time if you want to dine in the ballroom.

We had dinner there on our first night in the city and the girls gave me a surprise birthday cake! Yes, that was my birthday trip 🙂

I can recommend the fried dogfish and prawn curry!

Copenhagen coffee lab

A charming little cafe tucked away in a side street offering amazing cooked and cold breakfast options, sweet and savory bakes, and top-notch coffees. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Lisbon.

I do recommend their dirty Chai latte 😉

Ena Pai!

A quiet and pretty hotel restaurant with great food and excellent service. I enjoyed the meal so much that I forgot to take a picture, here’s me just wanting to get on with my dessert!

You can check out the restaurant here and the adjacent hotel Dabaixa here.

Nazma was patient enough to take a photo of her veggie platter.

Noori at Amoreiras Shopping Center

This place was quite a treat, serving different sushi combos. Strawberry and cream cheese, apple and prawn, and delicious poke bowls. It was super fresh and super delicious.

Long weekend in Lisbon and Sintra

Snacks

Traditional Codfish cake bar

A very stylish shop in the Alfama district sells traditionally made codfish cakes. You can see them being made while browsing in the shop.

We took the one with the cheese inside. I liked the fishcake but wasn’t too sure about the cheese and fish combo.

Long weekend in Lisbon and Sintra
Long weekend in Lisbon and Sintra

It was one of the very charming city breaks that I have had, being my birthday weekend and with my friend, Nazma definitely made it special.

I would want to visit again, enjoy the city and more of the Pastel de Natas!

Did you get some value from this post?

I hope you did because each week I put my heart into making sure you get some good tips so you can rock it in your travels while creating a life you love.

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How to plan 7 days in Dubai?

A jewel of the Middle East. A marriage of tradition and urban. A go-to destination for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture, beautiful beaches, and a lively nightlife scene as well as for adventure, culture, and throwback to the golden old days.

I’ll walk you through some ideas on how to get the most out of your trip to Dubai and also how to plan 7 days in Dubai (full itinerary provided).

Where to stay in Dubai ?

Historic and culture-rich areas:

  • Al Fahaidi
  • Al Seef
  • Deira Dubai
  • Bur Dubai
  • Meena Bazaar
  • Gold Souk

Luxury and ultramodern areas: 

  • Jumeirah Beach Residence
  • Sheik Zayed Road
  • Downtown Dubai
  • Dubai Marina
  • Dubai Festival City
  • The Palm Dubai

What to see and do in Dubai?

There are plenty of beautiful places to see in Dubai and in the surrounding Emirates. Here are a few of our top picks. You can see photos of these locations below.

7 days in Dubai suggested itinerary

We’d love to help you design your bespoke trip to Dubai

Places to eat in Dubai

Connectivity

Free WiFi available around the city, register details online to gain access

Currency

Dirham (AED) Check conversion rates here

Visa

Depends on the country of origin.  None required for UK nationals

How to budget

Dubai is set to become the number one destination in the world for luxury tourism. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy Dubai on a budget. There are plenty of accommodation options, alternative transport modes, free activities to do and plenty of restaurants that won’t break the bank. 

Cultural Expectations in the UAE

When visiting any country, it is crucial to be well-aware of local customs. This will help avoid any cultural faux pas and help you enjoy your trip and interact with locals, without offending anyone.  

Religious insights:

  • Ramadan is the holy month in the Islamic calendar and is extremely important.  Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during the holy month. When visiting the UAE during Ramadan it’s crucial to know not to eat, drink, smoke, or even chew gum in public. Aside from it being highly offensive to those who are fasting, it is also not allowed by law in the country.
  • Under no circumstances should one take pictures of Emirati women. Additionally, it’s considered extremely offensive to stare at women in national dress. Although tourists may do so innocently and out of curiosity, this shouldn’t be done at all. Any sort of unwelcome physical contact is seen as a form of disrespect and even flirting with Emirati women is frowned upon.

Public behaviors:

There are a few public behaviors that are extremely frowned up – and sometimes even illegal in the UAE. Being drunk and disorderly is a big no-no and people can even be taken in by the police for doing so. Additionally, public displays of affection are deemed to be rather disrespectful to Emirati culture. Another thing to be mindful of as tourists are what to take pictures of. It’s illegal to take photos of women, in addition to military and government facilities.

Show

Best time to visit

Winter months, from November to April. January and February see heavy tourist traffic due to shopping festivals.

Navigate offline

Download the RTA Smart Drive app and navigate your route while offline

Transport

You can catch an Uber, Dubai taxi offers a great service as well, or you can use the metro, it stops at most tourist destinations.

Did you sort out travel insurance for your trip?

Couples get a 25% discount and kids get to go FREE!

Free COVID cover included

for: 1: Cancellation; 2: Curtailment; 3: Emergency Medical & Repatriation;

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Did you get some value from this post?

I hope you did because each week I put my heart into making sure you get some good tips so you can rock it in your travels while creating a life you love.

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Camino de Santiago – Part 2

Who else thinks/thought that walking is the same as hiking? 

No one? 

Just me then! oh, well… 

On some level in my head, I thought if I’m a walker I can easily become a hiker… 

I learned the hard way it’s not the same!


Here’s the story of how walking for me turned into hiking turned into resilience.

I had this need for a mental and an emotional clear-out after a long journey battling life and its adversities.

If you want to know the background to that, check out My Story.

That’s how I basically ended up hiking a section of the Camino de Santiago, from Santiago to Finisterre and then to Muxia, a 117Km distance in 8 days whilst being a walker by nature, not a hiker.

Camino De Santiago

Taking on new challenges will help push past the old ones and make you grow from it and grow your comfort zone.

I reached that conclusion after I finished the trip, not on day one, obviously.

On day one, I actually got lost within the first minutes of setting off! I had my guide book and maps and I was planning to do it in a non-Google assisted way.

That lasted about 5 minutes, then I got frustrated with being lost and not knowing where North is.

I pulled out my phone and Google navigated my way in the right direction! Soon after I caught sight of another hiker and one of the route landmarks and was reassured that Google knows everything 😉

Camino de Santiago
Camino De Santiago

It does sound a little crazy now that I set off on an 8-day hiking journey with little prep but trust me the best experiences in life happen that way! I love that I have done it and love what I got out of it…

On my first day, heading out of Santiago, the sun was shining, the scenery was stunning, the air fresh, I was all alone walking in the woods…

Very peaceful and serene, yet the physical challenge on the first day was very real.

I walked about 20 Km that day (yikes).

I had already pre-booked my accommodation along the way and my luggage was getting moved along the accommodations as I walked. 

So even if I wanted to stop before my planned destination I wouldn’t be able to.

That helped push me through the physical pain and the mental barrier that I cant when I actually could.

Check out Camino de Santiago – Part 1 for information on how to plan your Camino hike.

I got to my first stop, a little lovely cozy hotel in a town called Negreira. I got in dying to have a shower and a lie-down. 

Guess what? 

My bag hasn’t been delivered!

After a couple of phone calls, the glitch was sorted and the driver showed up with my bag. 

A hot shower, a hot water bottle (yes I’d taken one with me as well as a travel kettle), and some tiger balm and I were fast asleep.

Chllenges of day one tackled. Yes.

The soreness I felt in the morning was unbelievable.

like having had a good going work out where muscles you didn’t know you had hurt, but I had to keep going.

I was just getting started and like they say ‘pain is temporary, quitting is forever’.

 

The breakfast at the hotel was made for champs, a really good quality bakery, and cooking (pic above)… It fueled me for the day ahead.

 

I walked again through the woods with amazing scenery, the weather was less kind than the day before and I had to pull out my poncho for a few hours of the walk… 

That however wasn’t the worst bit of the day or the trip.

Keep reading the twist of events below.

As I was walking through a farm coming up to a big road that separated the farm from the woods, I saw a man coming out from the woods and walking down to the road.

Now that might sound benign and not worth noting but it’s what I noticed next that gave me the creeps.

His outfit wasn’t that of a hiker or a farmer. He was dressed in smart trousers and a bomber’s jacket which is completely out of context with the surrounding nature.

That made alarm bells go off in my head.

He was walking down towards his car which again was a city car, not one you’d drive in the kind of woods/farm/trail area that we were in…

It all didn’t look right and didn’t feel right.

By the time he got down to his car, I had already crossed the road and was about to get into the woods.

I tried to act normal and not show vulnerability, he kept looking my way which continued to creep me out.

When he got to his car instead of driving off, he opened the car boot and reached in to get something out with both hands.

That was the moment where my frecking out went off the charts and I said to myself I’m not hanging about to find out what he’s pulling out of the car boot nor in which direction he’s headed with it!

 

I ran! I ran into the woods as fast as I could.

I ran despite the sore feet and achy muscles.

I was planning a nice break in the woods but that plan changed quickly and I ran literally as my life depended on it.

At that moment it felt like it did!

I tried to tell myself to keep calm and carry on but the thing is when you run in the woods, you make a lot of creeky noises that can illusion you into thinking that someone is running after you, so I kept running and looking back behind me.

It was like one of those horror movies, all I could think is that this couldn’t be the end of me!

Keep running girl!

I stopped briefly to post this picture on my social media, just a ‘last seen by’ photo, you know, just in case.

As I posted it, I heard a car approaching.

I started running again!

In the distance there was a sign for a cafe, I didn’t stop till I got there.

I pretty much ran in, pulled up a chair, and said to the old lady behind the counter I’ll drink anything!

She was pretty confused with my dramatic entrance.

 

I felt much safer being in the company of others but little did I know that that feeling wouldn’t last for long…

 

Stay tuned for my next blog to find out what happened.

Did you get some value from this post?

I hope you did because each week I put my heart into making sure you get some good tips so you can rock it in your travels while creating a life you love.

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Stand Out and Stay Connected… drop a comment below.