New Year’s in Lisbon

Well, Lisbon was our choice for a New Year’s Eve stay. After all, big city would probably be a good place to spend the holiday right?

We started off the day with breakfast at our hotel before heading down to a walking tour of the city. We selected Lisbon Chill-Out Free Tour. Well, my dad did. It was a bit of a conflict for us to be honest.


See I love Sandeman’s tours. I’ve done four now, and every single one has been amazing. Sandeman has a Lisbon tour… but my dad did research and said Lisbon Chill-Out Free Tour was there first and Sandeman kind of encroached on their space.

That’s always the question isn’t it? Do you support local? Do you go with the big name brand?

I tend to be the kind of girl who will buy local coffee over Starbucks… well that is until PSL season. But I admit I usually try to give some favoritism to local shops and restaurants and businesses over chains. However, I cannot deny there are times (like with PSL seasons) that chains and big brands can be nice. After all, you go to a local coffee shop your coffee might be terrible. You go to Starbucks you already know what to expect. It might not be great, but it’s good. And it’s in your comfort zone.


Selecting walking tours can be hard. I’ve had local tours that have been great. I really enjoyed mine in Bratislava. And then I’ve had ones like in Budapest and Rome that I really disliked where the guides were really uninteresting to listen to and didn’t give me much as a whole on the tour. So yes, there is something comforting in knowing what you’re getting and selecting a place like Sandemans.

I’ll say this, in my experience local tours teach you a bit more about the culture of the place which can be great. The people are from the country you’re visiting and they know more about the place itself. However, something like Sandemans usually has a native English speaker, which can lend itself more easily to having a good sense of humor, telling stories in a really creative and interesting way. So it’s really up to you and what you prefer.


Chill Out Tours did a very good job overall. The guide was reasonably entertaining and did a good job giving an overview of the city. We had fun and enjoyed ourselves.

Afterwards we decided to hop on a tram and head over to Belem, a suburb of Lisbon with a beautiful monastery and a famous pastry shop.

We stopped at the Pasteis de Belem first, a bakery famed for being the first to make these delicious pastries. For any going, you’ll see a huge line outside. If you want to sit down you can head inside past the line and there are lots of tables. I’m guessing it’s more crowded in tourist season, but still could be worth a try. We got in and sat down together. We shared a few of the pastries together and some coffees and then we felt ready to hit up the monastery, the Jeronimos Monastery.

Sure enough, the building was beautiful. Absolutely amazing to see. If you’re getting pastries anyways, be sure to go see this place.

I don’t know that I thought the inside was all that special. But the outside and the cathedral are both quite impressive.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then we made a snap decision to try to get to the aquarium…which was on the opposite side of town. So we hopped on a tram and then off and onto a metro and then we ran to the aquarium to make sure we had enough time to see everything before it closed.

I don’t know that it’s the most amazing aquarium I’ve ever been to, but it’s definitely nice. It had different exhibits for the different oceans. Otters and penguins definitely stood out as some of my favorites, though there were some cool deep see crabs, and beautiful jelly fish, and other cool things. I could spend hours just staring at fun animals. There’s so much beauty in nature.

After the aquarium we headed back towards our hotel. We dropped off things and then went to find dinner.

We ended up at Cocheria Alentejana. It was completely full. However, we managed to get a table. Because we were willing to eat outside. It wasn’t cold really. A little chilly towards the end. However, when we arrived it was decent, so we decided it would be worth it. I ordered a garlic shrimp stew. I have no pictures sadly because the waitress stirred it up for me and plopped the first serving down on my plate while I stared at her with my phone raised, ready for my usual Instagram pic. In spite of my disappointment, the dish was good. It was incredibly rich and filling. We also had green wine which I really enjoyed, and then a pumpkin cake thing for dessert which was delicious…but then again I love all things pumpkin. Danny had lemon sherbet…served in a lemon. It was adorable.

The atmosphere outside was amazing. People walking through the streets. A band marching by. Everywhere we looked it felt like a celebration.

After that we dropped tired Danny off at the hotel, and my mom and dad and I went over to a landing overlooking the city to try to watch fireworks. We did, and we watched people pop corks out of champagne and kiss each other. It was a nice way to ring in the New Year.


So here’s to a New Year. Especially one full of more travels. More blog posts to come that’s for sure!

Off to Portugal

So we started our morning by going back into Merida to see a few things. We hadn’t realized the museum in town wasn’t covered on our ticket, so we decided to skip it and went to the Alcazaba (basically fortress) in town instead. We enjoyed looking out at the city, seeing the Roman bridge looking beautiful in the morning light. The fortress itself was cool too. Walls you could climb up on, and this awesome tunnel that led into the depths of the fortress with a pool of goldfish at the bottom. All in all very fun.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our last stop in Merida was to an aqueduct on the outskirts of town. It wasn’t Pont du Gard by any means, but it was very fun with its ruined state. And besides, the storks from town had all built nests along it which was very cool to see.

Once wed finished with pictures we set out on our drive to our next country. My family decided to be a bit crazy in our travels and visit… 6 countries. Insanity I tell you. So the next on the list was Portugal.

We stopped in Evora for lunch. Since the weather was beautiful we settled for having a picnic outside. It was sunny and lovely and there was even a random peacock strutting about trying to get some of our food.


After our picnic was over, we went and wandered around the town a bit. There was a Roman temple that we wanted to see, and otherwise we just enjoyed the sunshine and pretty architecture of churches and other buildings.

Once we were satisfied that we’d seen enough of Evora for the day we set off on the road again, stopping to see some megalithic structures nearby known as the Almendres Cromlech. Most people know of Stonehenge, but some people might not be aware that there are lots of other monoliths, dolmens, and groups of menhirs all over Europe that are similar in terms of their size and debatable function. For any who find this really fascinating, I’d recommend seeing Carnac in France. There are so many stones it’s amazing.

However, these ones were also quite interesting. It’s impressive to look at the massive size of these rocks and imagine ancient peoples finding them and erecting them in these strange formations.

We took a few photos with the menhirs and then were on our way again, off towards Lisbon.

Of course, we arrived in Lisbon in afternoon traffic, so it was difficult to get to our hotel, and even more difficult finding parking. Nonetheless we did settle in at the Pensao Londres which had a classic old hotel feel with a good location.

We dropped our things off and relaxed a bit before setting off for dinner that evening. We ate at the Bota Alta, which had delicious foods that we all enjoyed. My brother and I both had stuffed meat (think cordon bleu) and my dad had a more traditional cod dish, which my mom just had a steak. All of it was delicious and we appreciated having a nice filling meal before setting off to walk around the city a bit.

We had hoped to find pastries, but the problem is the Portuguese eat late enough that most bakeries are closed after you’re done with dinner. So we just settled for seeing a little of the city. My favorite was running across the oldest bookshop in the world, which is something that had me squealing in delight. If there had been a book I really wanted there in English I would have bought it for sure to appease my happy book collecting self. However, nothing really stuck out.


We walked back up an incredible number of steps to get back up to our hotel. Be warned that Lisbon is a very hilly city. You will walk up and down a lot to see anything.


Well, a good night’s rest would do us good for the coming day.