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Saturday, 9 August 2014

Sintra











To have gone to one of the most beautiful and enchanting places in Portugal without my fancy-pants camera is one of my biggest regrets of 2013, not even exaggerating. Needless to say these photos off my phone don't even come close to doing Sintra justice. I personally didn't do much research on this area of amazing architecture and landscapes, so you can imagine how awestruck I was when we arrived here after the relatively short drive from Lisbon. We didn't have much time to spend (we took a trip organised by the hostel - quite cheap and great company), but most of it was spent on the grounds of the Quinta de Regaleira, which is the most fairytale of them all, complete with grottos and stepping stones and spiral towers. If my pictures don't convince you, just Google it and you'll know what I mean :P.

Apart from the amazing Romantic architecture, Sintra itself is a charming little town, and we got the chance to sample some local wines, ports, cheeses, charcuterie....yum. It's worth spending a day here just exploring really, its such a photogenic place you'll want to spend as much time as possible here, especially if the weather is good. 

Further west from the main area of Sintra is Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Portugal, as well as Europe. Racing towards this point so as to not miss these sunset has probably been one of the most exhilarating rides of my life, and more than once did myself and the American girls in the minivan with us think we'd fly through the windscreen at any moment. Running to the edge of the lookout, past the lighthouse, to catch the last rays of sun touching Europe. I cannot express how amazing this moment was.

Just a side note, if you are travelling back to Lisbon (most likely), stop over at Pasties de Belem, widely known as THE place to get the best pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tarts). You'll probably end up taking some home, or eating them on the way...the hot chocolate is pretty good too :).

=D xx

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Lisbon










Lisbon is probably one of my favourite cities. Even though we visited mid-winter, it was a lively city with pockets of colour explosion, some great eateries, shops we never expected to find and a nightlife that would be hard to beat. Unfortunately my camera decided to act up so I only had my phone and it's editing apps to capture memories of this interesting city. There are some awesome lookouts where you can get a great view looking down over the terracotta rooftops leading on to the coastline, and best of all they're free (i.e. no need to pay the pesky entrance fee at Castelo de Sao Jorge) which is great for the budget conscious traveller. Albeit its a bit of a trek up the infamous hills but its worth it as not only are you treated to spectacular views, but there are some real gems to see on the way.

 Lisbon also had the best hostel we stayed at, Yes! Lisbon really was so much fun, I would love to go back just to stay there again. Their homely touches, super friendly staff and amazing atmosphere really won me over - there's nothing like coming back from a long day of city-exploring to a nice home-cooked meal prepared by the hostel staff, in the lively atmosphere of the hostel common room. It really was special. And all very affordable as well. 

Carrying on from this, our food experiences in Lisbon were hard to beat. We were keen as beans to find the elusive Peri Peri chicken which originated from Portugal, and we lucked out everywhere else. After reading up on Lonely Planet, we managed to find a hole in the wall place called Casa da India tucked inside the heart of Bairro Alto, who excelled in this Portugese chicken dish (I don't think I'd order anything but this from this place). It was great to sit amongst locals in what looked to be a local institution, with old worn out fittings and walls filled with photos of patrons. Although I had to put the same mindset on as the one I had in India when visiting food establishments (being ignorant of the hygiene and cleanliness standards I'm so used to :P - I wonder if the restaurant name is a warning?!), it was great to have one of the more memorable meals of our trip for not much money and a truly different experience. Also around this area just up the hill, a few small blocks away in Chiado, was this amazing chocolate shop called Chocolataria Ecuador. Go here if you like pretty packaging and amazingly good chocolate (especially the different flavoured truffles). 

We also managed to fit in a pub-crawl (booked through the hostel) on a Monday that started at 1am, which was new for us Sydney noobs with our 1am lockout and where the thought of a crazy Monday night out is laughable. Needless to say we had a lot of fun jumping from bars to clubs, and it was all worth the pain the next morning. 

=) xx

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Foiled



I haven't been posting many nail escapades lately as there have been none =P. I've been opting for neutral tones out of simplicity and ease which isn't much fun to blog about. Over the weekend I got out of my lazy slump and did this design, which actually didn't take much time and I love how it looks, sorta like gold foil. These nails are a couple of days old so hence the wear and tear on the edges. This is NYX Pina Colada with gold foil pattern (using China Glaze 2030). 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Evora



















We read about the walled city of Evora and the beautiful architecture there off a couple of blogs will researching for this trip. So happy we decided to go because it really is a quite little gem of a place. Its small enough to easily walk through in a day and appreciate it all, some notable things being the ancient roman ruins and the ancient aqueduct running throughout the city. It was great to walk alongside it from just outside the city to its origin within the walls - an excellent way to see some of the side-streets. I especially loved the views on top of the roof of the Cathedral of Evora....a great place to take a breather and appreciate just how lucky we are to be visiting these amazing wonders. I also found the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) quite interesting, with the whole place covered top to bottom with skeletal remains of monks. Evora was also where we had our first official authentic Portuguese Tarts. And because they were so damn yummy, our second.

=D xx

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Porto





















Beautiful mosaic tilled townhouse buildings, cobblestone streets and that ever-present vibe of Hogwarts ;). Porto is one of the most charming places, not too overcrowded and full of quaint shops, restaurants and bars that we thoroughly enjoyed finding. I took great pleasure in the fact that university students here looked much like those described in the Harry Potter series (cape and all), and I was delighted to be able to visit  Livraria Lello, the famous bookshop from which you can obviously tell Hogwarts was born. But the best thing about Porto definitely had to be the port. Visiting those port wine cellars, trying to look and sound as sophisticated as possible....until we reached the tasting portion of the (multiple) tours, where our true colours came out, and then sauntering back home in the winter downpour....priceless.

=D xx
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