Six months ago my wife and I hopped on a plane and journeyed to Lisbon, Portugal to kick off our honeymoon. It was the best travel decision we’ve ever made, and the most visually stunning, culturally textured, historically rich place I’ve ever seen. Granted, I haven’t ventured too far out of my comfort zone in the 30 years I’ve been alive, but that’s neither here nor there ;). My point is, there are an infinite number of reasons why your next trip should be to Portugal.
The culture in Portugal was really something to behold, and the aesthetic of everything we visited just felt so wise, worldly, and, well, old. Visiting landmarks in Portugal that were from the 13th century reminded me just how old America really is. We’re babies over here in the USA.
Now, so many of you have asked for a detailed rundown of our honeymoon, and I figured this would be the best time to showcase some of the best things about this place. Before we dive in, here are some quick tips, should you decide to make this journey (please do, as it’s insanely affordable and worth it).
- Book a direct flight.It’s just under eight hours to fly from Pittsburgh to Lisbon, and it’s well worth the few extra dollars to not have to deal with a layover.
- Do not leave your house without planning your trip using the Lonely Planet Travel Guide. (I linked the book! just click on the name!)
- Give yourself a day on both ends of the trip to adjust to the time change.
Now, let’s get down to the good stuff, shall we? (This post is three pages long, so be sure to click the page numbers at the bottom to see all of it!)
Eating and Drinking
This is a photo of the first course we received at the best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, 100 Maneiras. Make reservations, and get treated to a life-changing ten course meal for less than 100 euros per person. The sauces in the dish for this course were chosen to represent the colors of the Portugese flag, and the dried fish skins are hung from clothes pins to represent the way the people of Portugal hang their clothes out to try.
Each course was divine and came with a wine pairing.
When you eat out in Portugal, the employees of the restaurant make it clear that you can spend as much as time you want with your meal. It’s expected for you to have a table to yourself for three to four hours in an evening. The waiters get paid well, so they don’t rely on your tips to make a decent wage. In fact, all of the wait staff share the tables, so instead of being attached to one party, they stand around the perimeter of the restaurant, looking out for a sign that you need something.
We learned about this restaurant in the Lonely Planet book, so here I am plugging it again.
Portugal has officially ruined me for coffee forever. It’s no wonder when you order watered down coffee you ask for an Americano. When you stroll into a cafe in any given day in Portugal, you rarely see a patron sitting around sipping on a huge, steaming mug of coffee. Instead, you see customers approach the counter, take a quick shot of espresso, grab a pastry, and head back out. I still insisted on my leisurely breakfast, but I did adapt to the caffeine levels without looking back.
Just a brief story for you. One morning we went to a cafe for breakfast and had run out of euros, so we handed the cashier a card, which usually works in most places. It wasn’t compatible with her machine, so we told her if she didn’t mind leaving our food and drink behind the counter, we would run and get cash. Instead, she told us to sit down outside and enjoy our meal first, pay later. How many times do you see business owners who are that trustworthy to strangers? Foreigners, no less?
The espresso is absolutely out of this world, and it’s everywhere. You know all of those stopping points you come across at tourist attractions that have vending machines stocked with water? In Portugal, you’ll find one that serves of espresso made to order.