FaroThis is not somewhere you would expect to see on a post like this but there is so much more to Faro than an airport.We called in as we had to find a car parts shop, we parked and headed for something to eat, this was easy to find with the signs!Read More
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234 Kms from Faro
Day 13Nearing the end of a trip of a lifetime, we sulked but Lisbon revived us. This capital city of Portugal was a huge city, with a character of that of a small and silent one. Now, you need to go out of Lisbon to experience the real Portugal.Where?Belem. Sintra. Cabo Da Roca. Lagos.All one day each trips and all oh-so-worth it. Each of them will offer an experience unparalleled.What stood out to for us? Cabo Da Roca. The western most point where Europe ends, and exactly where our Europe trip ended.Must have : Ginja (Cherry Liqueur) in a Chocolate Cup. And bring lots of it back. It tastes divine.Read More
Day 13Nearing the end of a trip of a lifetime, we sulked but Lisbon revived us. This capital city of Portugal was a huge city, with a character of that of a small and silent one. Now, you need to go out of Lisbon to experience the real Portugal.Where?Belem. Sintra. Cabo Da Roca. Lagos.All one day each trips and all oh-so-worth it. Each of them will offer an experience unparalleled.What stood out to for us? Cabo Da Roca. The western most point where Europe ends, and exactly where our Europe trip ended.Must have : Ginja (Cherry Liqueur) in a Chocolate Cup. And bring lots of it back. It tastes divine.
Lisbon, Portugal is so beautiful that it even made me want to leave la mia dolce vita (my sweet life) in Milano to enjoy some farm fresh frango (Chicken) and the best juicy sardines from the Atlantic while not missing out on the luxuries of good wine. From the bustling city center in Lisbon to the rural country side in sunny coastal Faro, I would love every thing about Portugal. Even in the train, I would eat a chicken cutlet sandwich that was not warmed up. I would never do that in Italy, but the Frango in Portugal was spiced just right for the Indian taste bud. Travel tip for Portugal: Two is company Joining me was my beautiful travel companion from Brittany, France. Together as a team, we speak English, French, Hindi, Italian, Spanish, Telugu and Urdu as of now. We would meet up the coolest Lisbon locals who would help us evade the typical tourist traps, taking us directly to eat the best authentic local food, that too at the best price. Drinks in Portugal means Gin time these days with this classy MUST VISIT place called the Gin Lovers. Just look at the pictures and you will thank me later. Childhood in Kochi & Fascination with Vasco Da Gama Vasco Da Gama, the Portuguese explorer was the first European to visit India by sea. Fast forward to 2017, an Indian living in Italy, the land of Christopher Columbus, makes plans to discover Portugal for his very first time. That smile on my face brings back memories of a great trip from New Delhi to Goa during collage. Yes, I am more familiar to Portuguese culture than you think. Not only have I traveled to Goa, a former 500 years old Portuguese colony in India, but have spent good childhood years in Kerala, living in Cochin. Frequent visits to St Francis Church, Kochi in my childhood taught me a lot about the great explorer Vasco Da Gama who was finally buried in this church after he died in 1524 on his third visit to India. Journey to Portugal: Mission Impossible style
LisbonThe moment I stepped out of airport, I know this city will offer me something which no other city did before. The sheer beauty of the city and the balance between commercial and tourist life made it one of the amazing places I ever visited. My host helped me with the place and showed me around the house. She suggested me the places to visit in and around Lisbon. We talked a bit about each other as I introduced myself. To my surprise, she was from Valencia and came to Lisbon for studies. I told her that I visited Valencia before coming here and was really happy to visit it.There was a lot to see in Lisbon and I wanted to cover as much as I could. I started with São Jorge Castle, a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic center of Lisbon and Tagus River. There was a labyrinth of roads uphill to reach the castle. There was a tram ride near the Rossio Square which goes through the internal parts of Lisbon where one can witness the daily life of old style Lisbon.
The last stop was Lisbon. I opted for the Sandeman’s walking tour, which takes you through the streets, while narrating about the literature, architecture, destruction of city during the 1755 earthquake and its revival from the ashes.
The first day setting out of the airport in Lisbon, I was scared shitless. I just looked at the highway, foreign cars cutting through visible humidity. Feeling my bike, I also realized this was my first time riding fully loaded down with my panniers. For anyone planning a tour, don't do this, train with the panniers and you will be glad you did. Despite my worried rants of getting a taxi, Keagan controlled the desire to smack some sense into me, calmed me down, and told me to get on my damn bike.
I arrived in Lisbon just before sunset and was amazed at how beautiful the city is. It actually reminds me a lot of San Francisco (with an oddly similar bridge and even cable cars). My first stop was the Belem Tower. Built in Manueline style during the Age of Discoveries in 1520, the Tower served to defend the Tagus River bank. Once a symbol of King João II’s power, as the new centuries passed, the tower has been given different functions such as a customs control point, a telegraph station, a lighthouse and even a political prison. UNESCO classified it as a World Heritage Site in 1983. Next to the Belem Tower was the Discoveries Monument which was built on the bank of River Tagus in 1960 to honor the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. It was designed in the shape of a caravel, on which Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, and many relevant heroes of Portuguese history are shown riding.
222 Kms from Faro
These 7 days literally flew away for us. We kept discussing what we’d missed. We wanted to stay each place a little more, but we also wanted to explore more places.You know what we were living with?THE FEAR OF MISSING OUTRead More
Next day we headed to Seville, the youthful capital of the Andalusia region. The tour of the bull fight arena is a must-experience. Like it is said, there is a celebration every day in Andalucia. And to our luck, we got to attend the ongoing global cuisine fair. There are sky-diving options here, which are more expensive as compared to other options in Europe, but well worth the experience.
There couldn't be a better first impression to Spain other than Andalucía’s capital, Seville! The people are warm & welcoming, the culture and traditions absorb you in no time, and the Moorish & Roman influences in architecture are not only jaw dropping but highly symbolic & meaningful. The Flamenco shows are so dramatic that they leave a lasting impression on you & I can't say enough about the gastronomy!!
If it is true that Andalucia is a beautiful region, it is also true that most big cities have somehow similar historic sights, with particular focus on a main cathedral and an alcazar (sort of palace built by the Moors and later on taken over by the Christian rulers). Sevilla was no exception. I guess as it was the last place we visited in Andalucia it did suffer from our overload of history in the previous days. But don’t let this turn you off if you plan on traveling to Southern Spain. Sevilla is well worth a visit! Not only to see its historical buildings, but also to experience its culture, in the form of Sevillanas and Flamenco music (which we didn’t get to experience live this time) or food & drinks. You can tell that people in Andalucia are generally happy folks and, being Spanish, they sure like to party! The streets are always full of people (and they say there is a big crisis going on? We couldn’t tell!) and more than once we came across folks that would start singing and clapping out of the blue.
My first observation about Seville was that it was much bigger than I had pictured it. There was a decent-sized area that constitutes the “old town” where all of the main historic sites are located and then that area is surrounded by a really generic, large European city. Though the old town is small, it is quite easy to lose your bearings (as I soon discovered) while wandering around. There were a number of small, winding city streets that the locals apparently think should remain nameless because I couldn’t find a sign on any of them, nor did they seem to exist on either of the two maps I looked at. My first stop was the Catedral de Sevilla, the largest Gothic building in the world and third largest cathedral (after St. Peter’s in Vatican City and St. Paul’s in London). The cathedral’s central altar is over 60 feet tall and is said to be the largest in the world. The tomb of Christopher Columbus is also located within the cathedral. Next door is La Giralda, a 12th century Moorish tower. The view is fantastic and I had earned it after walking up the steep ramps to get to the top. Just across from the cathedral is the Royal Palace, Alcazar. Formerly a Moorish fortress, it’s still used by the royal family when they visit Seville.
172 Kms from Faro
At the end of the day, you will be invited to participate in a peddy-paper activity through the streets of Évora. Dinner and accommodation in Pousada de Juventude.Read More
256 Kms from Faro
1 | Lisbon + FARO + SevilleOne of my favorite cities in Europe, Lisbon, is bursting with culture, great food, incredibly charming streets -the list goes on and on- there’s so much to see and taste within the city you’ll be hard-pressed to pick your favorites. Not far away, the UNESCO town of Sintra is a beautiful and worthy day trip. Take a 3 hour train south to Faro, in the Algarve region world-renowned for it’s food and positively stunning seaside (ranked with some of the best beaches in the world). Carry on by bus to Seville for an immersion into a world of tapas, sangria and flamenco. Don’t miss Giralda Tower and Plaza de Espana.Read More
1 | Lisbon + FARO + SevilleOne of my favorite cities in Europe, Lisbon, is bursting with culture, great food, incredibly charming streets -the list goes on and on- there’s so much to see and taste within the city you’ll be hard-pressed to pick your favorites. Not far away, the UNESCO town of Sintra is a beautiful and worthy day trip. Take a 3 hour train south to Faro, in the Algarve region world-renowned for it’s food and positively stunning seaside (ranked with some of the best beaches in the world). Carry on by bus to Seville for an immersion into a world of tapas, sangria and flamenco. Don’t miss Giralda Tower and Plaza de Espana.
After breakfast, transfer to Sintra with its imposing mount sprinkled with palaces, churches and stately farmhouses, extending green waves to the ocean, the allure of urban areas of Vila Velha, Estefânia and villages that color the rural heath, is without a doubt a privileged place of undeniable beauty and cultural and natural interest. Lunch in local restaurant and afterwards we will make a stop to taste Queijadas de Sintra, which are composed of a delicious filling of fresh cheese, sugar, eggs, flour and cinnamon, wrapped in a crispy and crunchy pastry. They are gastronomic icons of this region and it is said that the recipe of these sweets was born in Convento da Penha Longa, at the hands of Father John of the Annunciation.
-Restaurant scams-Unknown languages-Chasing Pokémon-Stolen wallet-Trip to the police station-Border racism-Kayaking tales-Night outs in Paris-Broke Travelers-New friends-Cooking in hostel kitchens-A zillion pictures-Broken bags-Days without Sim Cards-Following paper maps-Miles of walking-Nights spent on the roadside bench-Missing the last train-Night on the train station
Ofcourse, you can’t go to Portugal and miss out on this one. Reaching Sintra from Lisbon takes about 30 minutes. And these 30 minutes will take you to a fairyland of castles and palaces. If time permits do go to Batalha for the Monastery. However, for those relying on public transportation this can be slightly difficult to reach. If anyone who has been to Portugal and has something more to add, do let me know. I’d love to hear and hopefully, go again. Saudade, the feeling of longing and nostalgia is what will drive me there again!
311 Kms from Faro
Ronda's claim to fame, other than its bullfighting history, is its spectacular setting. Located on a plateau, the town of Ronda is split into two parts by a 120m deep chasm known as El Tajo Gorge. There are three bridges that connect the two parts of the town. Out of the three, Puente Nuevo, built in the 18 th century, is the newest, tallest, largest and the most impressive. The majestic Puente Nuevo along with the River Guadalevín snaking through the gorge, the sheer vertical cliffs, the white buildings and the vast green stretches of Andalusian countryside make for a spellbinding spectacle that hypnotises the visitors and leaves them breathless. I can say this because that was what happened to us when we saw that view for the first time. Read More
Ronda's claim to fame, other than its bullfighting history, is its spectacular setting. Located on a plateau, the town of Ronda is split into two parts by a 120m deep chasm known as El Tajo Gorge. There are three bridges that connect the two parts of the town. Out of the three, Puente Nuevo, built in the 18 th century, is the newest, tallest, largest and the most impressive. The majestic Puente Nuevo along with the River Guadalevín snaking through the gorge, the sheer vertical cliffs, the white buildings and the vast green stretches of Andalusian countryside make for a spellbinding spectacle that hypnotises the visitors and leaves them breathless. I can say this because that was what happened to us when we saw that view for the first time.
Known for stunning cliffs and towering bridges, Ronda is home to some beautiful history and death-defying views.
Turning right out of Gaucin onto the A369 leads straight to the crown jewel of the Malaga province. Built atop a canyon that is hundreds of feet deep, Ronda’s three scenic bridges are world-famous. There are ruins of a fortress and a beautiful 16th century church, but Ronda is perhaps best known for its famous visitors. Ernest Hemingway, who spent much time in Ronda, claimed that if one were only to see a single bullfight, Ronda would be the place to do it (I’ll pass on that). Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (about the Spanish civil war) is said to be based on the executions of Nationalists who were thrown off the hills of Ronda into the canyon below. Orson Wells, Rainer Maria Wilke and the English writer, George Eliot also spent time in the spectacular town of Ronda. Several charming hotels and B&B’s are available in Ronda, so if you have the chance, stay the night.
FaroThis is not somewhere you would expect to see on a post like this but there is so much more to Faro than an airport.We called in as we had to find a car parts shop, we parked and headed for something to eat, this was easy to find with the signs!
The final part of our trip was at the southern coast of Portugal. A place frequented by many tourists, thanks to the nearby Airport and the possibilities of surfing. We had entered a different part of Portugal, sunny and deserted but charming. The cactus plant in front of our sea facing airbnb would have me scouting for tequila in Faro. The place had a very Mexican feel to it with all the sun, tan and cactus. I loved it! We had a great apartment with a nice exotic lagoon experience. A thin island that lay separated from the city by a Lagoon. Check the pictures below for the front and back views to see the sea water in both the sides. The food was so good and affordable around the beach. We did not hesitate to spoil ourselves to some fried fresh sardines prepared by the locals. Living in Italy for so long, I had nearly forgotten how a Domions Pizza, KFC Chicken or a Starbucks would taste like. Things are finally changing in Milan amid skepticism. I write this blog while munching on a Dominos Pizza like how I did in pre 2010 India. The fast food in Portugal seemed to have a lot of diversity in ingredients in it. We had everything from fish and chips and English Breakfast to rich fried noodles and delicious dessert. They made almost everything at the shack on the beach. Dinner like Vasco Da Gama: Authentic Portuguese sea food A couple of meals at the same place finally motivated us to go for the authentic Portuguese sea food experience. The family run restaurant which had shipping accessories all across the walls had a very confusing menu. The food was really authentic and included fish soup in large quantities served with rice. We were served in a traditional looking silvery cutlery. I may have eaten a new fish that day, something big from the deep blue Atlantic. This was the kind of food you would eat on a journey across the globe in an old wooden ship. Finally on my pursuit to discover Vasco Da Gama's home country, I almost get to eat like the Portuguese sailors. This post was originally published on The Road Not Taken.