I finished my blog last night around 2am (local time). I still couldn’t sleep, while to my right and left, Nancy and the kids slept just fine. At 3:30am, I got up and looked for Benadryl hoping it will make me drowsy and push me to sleep. It didn’t kick in right away. I must’ve fallen asleep close to 4:30am. I planned on getting up early since today was our first day to truly explore Lisbon. But it just didn’t work out that way. By 7am, Nancy was already up so she and Caitlin got ready, showered, dressed for the day and they walked down to the lobby for breakfast. I got up around 8:30am, and by 9am I made my way down for the free breakfast, a perk for being a Hilton Honors Gold member. It wasn’t until 10am when we finally got out of the hotel.
- # of days
- Top Attractions – where you will see all the must-not-miss sites
- Family attractions – kinda similar to the top attractions but also catered to families with little ones
- Easy Going – more laid back where you get to pace yourselves
- Packed – it picks all of the iconic sites ensuring you don’t miss a thing
it also gives you
transportation or route options (with links to Google Maps). It also tells you how to get from one attraction to another (on foot or via bus, car, or train), and the time to expect to go in between attractions. So there, that’s why it served as a free tour guide for us today, and will most likely be our app of choice for our nearly 3 weeks in Europe.
We picked up tickets to the Castle at the Main Entrance, there was a line, but we got our tickets within 5 minutes. The kids were free…yay! Free is good! Once we entered, it was a moment where we got to see a panoramic view of Lisbon and its famous rooftops. We took dozens of pictures and watched in admiration. Visit A City also gave us highlights of Castle, in a nutshell, it’s a large Medieval castle complex with archaeological ruins, museum and gardens. The site visit allowed us to walk the expansive grounds where we walked up and down these narrow steps where we saw different vantage points of Lisbon. I broke out a sweat. It must’ve been in the 80s or 90s already when we walked around.
It was time for a break. The kids had a fresh fruit smoothie,
while I tried a local ice cold sangria, refreshing!!! Next door gave us a taste of Galinha Empada or chicken pie. Evan and I shared this little pie – little chunks of chicken, so flavorful. I especially loved the crust, so flaky.
Pasteis de Belem
Ok, it’s time to get our tourist gear back on track. I checked my Visit A City app. From where we were, took bus 714 and headed down to Belem. We used the Viva Viagem again, so convenient. The bus was so comfortable, it was also air-conditioned. There were quite a few stops but were in no hurry. It’s a trifecta of a visit. First stop, Pasteis de Belem. When I heard that Lisbon is known for their Pastel De Nata, well, Pasteis de Belem was like the Holy Grail of Pastel de Natas. Throngs flocked outside like a pilgrimage. I didn’t know how long I’d be waiting. But I must’ve gotten lucky. I was in and out of there within 10 minutes. These egg tarts were super creamy. The shell or crust was crunchy. Best part it was served hot out of the oven. It was a perfect pit stop to before we hit the Belem area.
the way. After leaving Pasteis de Belem, we walked across the street for its other top attaction – McDonald’s. I knew our visit to Europe would be different with Caitlin and Evan. We stopped to get them a couple of Happy Meals. No chicken nuggets here, instead, they have real chicken wings which I loved. This is what they wanted to eat, and we had to keep them happy. I think we accomplished that.
Next on the list from Visit A City was a skip and a hop from Pasteis de Belem, McD’s, and the park. It was Monastery of Jerónimos – Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a gorgeous structure from the outside. It was hard not admire the architecture. We knew that Evan and Caitlin would not last long inside the museum, so we opted to go inside the church and admired its gothic architecture. I watched this last week on Rick Steve’s TV show. According to GoLisbon.com, “the cloisters are magnificent, each column differently carved with coils of rope, sea monsters, coral, and other sea motifs evocative of that time of world exploration at sea. Here is also the entrance to the former refectory that has beautiful reticulated vaulting and tile decoration on the walls depicting the Biblical story of Joseph.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
This one from a distance didn’t seem that far, but as we kept walking towards the Belem Tower, it felt like it was moving away from us. But we pursued, took a quick gelato break detour, and when got back on track, we made it to the Belem Tower, “a monument to Portugal’s Age of Discovery, often serving as a symbol of the country, and UNESCO has listed it as a World Heritage monument.”
checked my phone and looked at ways to get home. Trains and buses would mean more walking in between stations and around 48 mins altogether. Or, we could take Uber and be home within 19 minutes. Time was of the essence. We took Uber. We were quoted between $11-$15 USD. We waited for 5 minutes. Xana, our driver, arrived on time. Her car was clean, and the A/C was all set and ready to cool us down. Unlike our driver earlier today, Xana spoke English quite well. She talked a bit about their history, pointed some historical landmarks along the way, all in all, made us very comfortable. Uber won again. We were so pleased with our ride home, we handed her a tip, and she respectfully refused and said it wasn’t necessary. In return, I rated her very highly! Thank you, Xana! We made it back to the hotel close to 5pm.
Power nap and freshen up
feast. I did a transportation decision again. 17 minutes will include13 minutes of walking and 4 minutes inside a bus for around $6 Euros. Or, we could Uber and pay for $2-4 Euros and be at the restaurant in 6 minutes. Hmmmmmm….Uber won again! Tiago, our driver, was prompt. He also spoke English quite well. He said that he also would recommend Cervejaria Ramiro, and on our way there, he also pointed out another local seafood fave, Portugalia. We made it to Cervejaria Ramiro but as luck would have it, the restaurant was closed. Grrrrr…..so Tiago suggested Portugalia, and that’s how we ended at Portugalia. Our Uber-ride was $5 overall….money well spent.
The whole idea is to:
- Sign-up with a credit card that offers lucrative bonus.
- Meet the minimum spend (typically $1,000 to $3,000 total within 90 days).
- Make sure you pay your credit card bill in FULL on or before its due date, otherwise you’d have wasted the benefits if you pay the ridiculous interest rates.
- Your bonus gets deposited to your account (whether airline miles or hotel points account)
- Once your minimum spend requirement is met, you have a choice to keep using the credit card, or setting it aside.
- Before the end of the 1st year of having the card you realize the card is worth or not worth keeping, make that decision before the annual fee is charged. Most cards typically waive the first year’s annual fee. There are credit card companies that will come up with creative ways for you to not feel the pain of paying for an annual fee by giving you a credit and/or more points. It happened to me.