Muito Obrigado Portugal!
This was a trip for my mom.
Last year, I had told her I would be taking her & my dad somewhere - to show them gratitude for all the places they've taken me since I was a child. Needlessly to say, when my dad suddenly passed away that idea was put on hold. But as time passed, my mom came around the idea of traveling again. She's been always wanting to go to Portugal as she didn't go with my dad in her European whirlwind from years past. And so we packed up our bags & off we went to discover Portugal.
I am just going to begin by saying that Portugal is by far one of the most underrated countries in Europe. It gets lost in the shuffle with the power houses of France, England & Spain taking the helm. But honestly, this country has so much to offer & it's become my second favourite European country, next to France. It has so much history, amazing culture & delicious desserts - who could resists. And the people are by far one of the most genuine people I've encountered.
Fátima is a small town located north of Lisbon, just a 90-minute bus ride from the capital. It is home to one of the top Catholic pilgrimages in the world, where the Virgin Mary appeared in front of 3 shepherd children at 4 different instances in 1917. It's fairly new compared to other pilgrimages, so it's much more modern and lacks that European charm compared to Lourdes, France. But my mom really loved it.
Just a 30mins bus ride from Fátima is a town called Batalha, meaning battle in Portuguese. This was by far my favourite place to see during the whole trip. It's home to one of the most impressive gothic architecture I've been luckily enough to visit. Commissioned in 1385 after the Portuguese defeated the Castilians, the monastery took over a century to complete spanning over 7 reigns & 15 architects. Batalha is deemed one of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Portugal and I can see why... walking in the cathedral was breathtaking and no photos or videos can capture the beauty of it.
This capital city surprised me in a good way. I enjoyed it much more than I would have imagined. Lisboa has everything all the world capital cities has but more on a reasonable budget. We stayed in a cute flat with a balcony to boot in the city center... I enjoyed opening the french doors every morning to look down at the water views #goals. The flat was located in the city center and it was walking distance to everything. One thing many people may not know is that Lisboa is a city of 7 (or maybe 8) hills... literally 1 street would be hilly and the next block would be flat. So get ready for the exercise and remember to wear very very very comfortable shoes. We uber'd everywhere as the transit isn't that convenient.
It was like walking into a fairytale... everything you see and every corner you turn was so breathtaking and majestic - I couldn't help feel like a princess for the day. Sintra is a beautiful town and it's no wonder the whole town is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Site in Portugal. Quinta da Regaleria was a magical maze filled with beautiful surroundings and hidden trails. If you're a big fan of Lord of the Rings - you would appreciate the magic.
The drive from Sintra to Cascais was by far the most beautiful scenic drives I've been on. I absolutely fell in love with the Portuguese Riviera (as it's dubbed). And like the other Portuguese cities, I was able to enjoy the picturesque view of the city without the hustle and bustle of the crowds, like you would experience if you were to go to the French Riviera.
I absolutely couldn't say anything more about Portugal and I cannot wait to go back. The best part was that I was able to share this trip with my mom.
'til next time...