Updated: Oct 29
It was time to take a break from Costa Rica and Portugal became the flip of the coin for 3 months of explorations, fun and adventure. TIP: Costa Rica has 2 seasons. Wet and Dry. Starting late April from light sprinkles to down pours and flooding on flat land in October to end of November. Still with an incredibly warm temperature, the wet/ rainy season is nothing to be desired. At one point it's nothing but rain everyday all day. We try to avoid the rainy season at all costs in Costa Rica.
This time for our travel fun we flew to Santa Ana, California first, to see family, stayed at a great Airbnb for 3 weeks, with a horrible and harassing host, then left out of LAX for Portugal.
Our expectations of Portugal were, yes the language is similar to Spanish so it must be easy to learn. Surprise, surprise, surprise!! Spanish/Latin words yes, but it fell more complicated than that. With a mixture of cultures contributing from Latin origins and some words closely still implemented in the language to the Western Iberian Penninsula mixed in with Arabic & Spanish, Portuguese was a surprisingly hard language to fathom. We did, however, learn the necessary and basic hello’s & thank you’s. (Obrigada = Thank You)
We started our trip from Lisbon, then on to Porto, only to return back to Lisbon, stayed in Almada (where the locals stay) and stayed a little in Sintra, visited a quint and lovely town of Cascais and wow what an amazing experience.
A stunning costal capital with hilly neighborhoods nestled among seven hills Lisbon, overlooks the Tagus River. Patches of beautiful blue and white Portuguese tile sprinkled on random buildings and churches told much of it’s past. With lively nightlife it‘s one of Europe‘s most historical and noble community of people.
One of their most prominent and iconic bridges is a knock off of the San Francisco bridge engineered by the same architect. Lisbon also is famous for the
The two week stay in two separate Airbnb’s gave way to experience different parts of Lisbon.
The first week at one location and the second week at another.
The food! Oh God the food! Famous for Bacalhau, a dries, salted cod, is a must to try! Especially the fried Bacalhau with a port wine! DELICIOUS! The most popular and by far the most savory dessera is the Pastel De Nata. A mouthwatering custard like small pie which their aroma fills the morning streets of Lisbon by sunrise. Walking Coco in the mornings was a real treat for him as he mimicked Toucan Sam and followed his nose to find the source of this captivating smell. The drink of the hour??? Port wine was it! People were having the port wine for breakfast with pastries!!!!
During the second week, when moving to another Airbnb, we discovered a delectable and romantic restaurant off the beaten path. The owners were a husband and wife who took Portuguese cuisine seriously and ambiance as well!
As the sun started to set, the neighborhood rose from it’s quiet somber. The entire block was blanketed with warm lighting, the faint sound of dishes clanking and chatter filled the streets. The smell of steaks, bread and only God knows what else, creeped through the open windows of our flat above the lively residential avenue.
Each restaurant, was so hard to get into. The locals filled them up quickly every night and a reservation was a must.
The secretly, or thought it seemed, restaurants transformed into something special at night. There was one place in particular 3 buildings down from our Airbnb. It wasn't just special; it was magical!
Low lighting illuminated the soft blues and purples of an indoor decor. You could almost taste the delicious fresh herbs which filled the air as we took our seats. The waitress / owner explained that each dish on offer was made with locally sourced ingredients from nearby farms – all organic and bursting with flavor! With full bellies and happy hearts, we reluctantly agreed it was time to leave this dream spot behind them until next time.... The name Antikuario Cafe. Travel Tip # 250! Make a ressie at Antikuario Cafe.
Another healthy option for eating out is Honest Greens in Lisbon! AMAZING! A brand new eatery was opened not far from our hotel and very close to that same Airbnb, once we returned from Sintra. Atmosphere was the cutest and most comfy setting. So good we would sit for hours eating, having coffee and relaxing.
Love coffee with atmosphere? Everyone knows we do! Delta Coffee House in Lisbon was a great place! Atmosphere, ambiance great coffee & food is worth the trip! However, for a more intimate setting, we discovered yet another incredible coffee shop that is NOT full of tourists. Which is what we like! Simpli Coffee. Now that coffee spot had some unforgettable vibes! Vibes & relaxing a peaceful non touristy! Good breafast and even better latte’s. They are unfortunately closed on the weekends.
A few other delectable places to land were, Delideux Avenida, Matiz, and our last favorite for a romantic dinner was Cervejaria Liberdade. Believe or not, Portugal’s food prices were quite inexpensive at the time we were there. Things in general were cheaper than most places in Europe.
We took a 3.5 hour train ride from Lisbon to Porto. The pups were excited even though Coco was blind he still knew he was traveling and enjoyed it. Chewy was snuggled nervously in his travel bag but he too also looked forward to a new environment. Once we arrived, a 20 minute Uber ride from the train station landed us at our Airbnb. This time not as many stairs. Only 2 two flights. Europe is notorious for several flights of stairs in an apartment building and no elevator. The Airbnb overlooked one of the main mall strips in Porto.
Each morning we were awakened by the bustling streets and a sound in particular of a man chanting someone which sounded along the lines of “okayyyyyy, okayyyyyy red rum” We all know that’s not what he was bellowing, but it sure sounded like that. We also had a lovely view of The Chapel of Souls. An iconic Portuguese church covered in blue and white with paintings of the lives of saints Portuguese tile.
Porto out numbered Lisbon with hilly streets by a long shot. There were countless hills some steeper than others but the entire city sits on a slant which means if you walk it as we did, you’re always on an incline! Get your tennis shoes ready because you will definitely need them!
The weather was icy, windy and freezing. We were under the impression that this was going to be a breeze. And it was, literally. So cold it felt as if it was winter in April!
This beautiful city is yet another coastal town which is known for its iconic bridges. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets lead you through merchants’ houses and cafes and restaurants. São Francisco Church is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings. The palatial 19th-century Palácio de Bolsa, formerly a stock market. Do take in the tour because it has lots of mind blowing memories to offer. We strongly suggest the Hop on Hop Off bus tour as well which took them to Cascais. What a town!
a day trip was all they needed to catch sun and beaches. This quaint little costal town is known for it's beaches and an ancient town know for royal retreats.
The quiet side of the river and where most local live. A ferry ride to the other side connects to Lisbon and the touristy shenanigans. Almada had great restaurants and beaches but unfortunately it was a bit too quiet. The Airbnb was amazing of course and there were a couple of coffee shops however they only took cash and not an American credit card. Very odd considering the world takes American credit cards.
Once settle in the store was across the street. Summer temperature rose to a whopping 95 degrees and most airbnbs on that side of the river did not come with A/C. Extreme heat was not normal for Portugal. The host tried to accommodate us as much as possible.
Coco was starting to fall ill and my heart was broken. Since landing in Portugal he was starting to walk in circles. a visit to the vet recommended a MRI. As time went on, he worsened but massaging his little fuzz head with a motorized massager seemed to help him return to normalcy for the most part. In Almada, he fell very ill, stopped eating and was hospitalized for 5 days due to a failing kidney and high sugar although on insulin. They got him a bit stable and he returned home. 2 days later he began vomiting once again, lost most of his weight and couldn't walk on his own. He was trying so hard to hang on. trying to stand up and when I would help, he would resist my touch. His last couple of days he spent smelling new smells in a nearby park with seemed to be a smile on his face. Hanging from a harness, literally, he was barley able to go to the bathroom on his own. No eating, no drinking and the last day, he would randomly run to the corners of the room to hide.
It was time. A trip to the emergency room at a nearby vet, Sunday Jul 30th 2022, at 7:30am he crossed the rainbow. I miss COCO and will hold him close to our hearts forever. R.I.P. little Coco nut.
Unbearable heat and no A/c and a somber mood made way to leave the Airbnb earlier than planned. The Hogz hated to leave but they could not be comfortable there. Back across the river to this time a hotel. The Pestana was pet friendly close proximity to all the attractions without being in the heart of it and easy to grab an e-scooter rental! Restaurants, a tuk tuk tour, and even a 6 course meal tasting were just a few of the activities they engaged in. Even a 3 hour sail around the Tagus river.
From there we left the hotel after 2 weeks and spent a week in Sintra.
Magical, charming and enchanting one day visit previously wasn't enough.
Another tuk tuk tour around the city and with its Disneyland surreal surroundings made us fall in love all over again. Beautiful view from the hotel room and a massive balcony faced one of the historical castles in the mountains. We visited,Quinta da Regaleira. All were amazingly beautiful but Pena palace is a bit of uphill miles and a taxi, bus or private car is best. Even Uber drivers were scarce. They can often get you up, but hard to get you back down. Once inside the main gate, there was still an uphill walk or cash for a bus ride to get to the top of the palace where the entrance is. Then a long line to get in. Another hike later to the Moorish Castle and around the grounds of Pena. It's best to buy tickets online and go early to do both. You will mournfully regret it if you don't. The logistics of getting up there unless you love miles of walking uphill are nothing to toy with!
A return to Lisbon for a couple more weeks with cooler temperatures after Sintra only made room for a little homesick feeling. As beautiful and lovely of a time we had, we were ready to sit still. What?? You might ask? The Travel Hogz sitting still???? You heard it straight from us! TIRED OF TRAVELING! To this extent anyways. Gone for months at a time. We were ready to settle back into normalcy and Costa Rica wasn't feeling too normal at the time. I will explain later about Costa Rica and our itch to flee.
We made a decision to not return to Costa Rica and go back to live in Cali. Researched, hunted, and secured yet another lovely Irvine Companies apartment with the help of a relative who visited the grounds while we were still abroad. A newly modeled, never before rented unit! Yay!
But first Miami for a bit then Cali here we come!
Time flew by as the effervesce of this quaint little town never ceased to amaze us.
Here are just a few of our highlights from all of Portugal!
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