Day 9: NY layover

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tiles of Lisbon

Oof I’m now writing this post a full three weeks after the day actually happened. So there’s not that much that I remember, and to be honest, not that much I WANTED to remember because this was an AWFUL travel day.

The positive bits: we woke up and went downstairs for our hotel breakfast. I basically repeated the breakfast from yesterday, which involved toast, deli meat, cheese, eggs and nata. Then we headed back upstairs to finish packing and then off we went! Uber to the airport, with a female driver! The airport was in a direction we had never driven past in the day time so it felt really strange to me to head back from where we had once come, but feel like every sight passing us was a brand new experience.

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We waited so long for an old lady to step out of the photo

I used to think that duty free shops were always a huge ripoff and just a place for people to pick up gifts that they had forgotten about but now I see their true value – being able to carry liquids as part of your carry on! We picked up a few port wines (I now kind of wish I had gotten more!) and I was really surprised that they weren’t marked up as high as I would have assumed. I had just listened to a Planet Money episode about duty free shops which basically indicated that some things are actually cheaper and some things aren’t a deal at all. At least in this instance, Portugal-made products bought in a Portugal airport was a good deal!

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Not in the airport but one of the many canned fish stores we visited!

The movies on the way back to the US were quite good. I watched Jumanji and thought it was way better than I expected. I also watched Battle of the Sexes, another movie that was more interesting than I was expecting. I watched Game Night on the JFK-SFO flight and was panicking at the end because I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the whole movie so I started fast forwarding bits that looked like more heartfelt, emotional scenes. I’m certain I watched a TON of movies from LIS to JFK but can’t remember the rest.

We arrived in JFK around 8pm. It was disgustingly humid when we walked out of the plane, which always really startles me whenever I’m on the East Coast. I always forget that CA weather is not replicated in NYC. We had toyed with the idea of sleeping in the airport (I was ok with this) or else getting a hotel nearby (I opposed this) because our second leg flight was at 7am. But the option I was truly pushing for was to just take an uber into the city and hang out at one of Robyn’s friend’s places. Actually, the real me would have preferred to take a subway in and save ourselves about OVER A HUNDRED BUCKS because it cost $67 EACH WAY from the airport to get into the city! As someone who rarely Ubers, and if I do ever pay for an Uber it’s like $8 max, the notion of paying so much for a ride was horrifying.

While I hated spending that money on uber, it was way more relaxing and I definitely was not in the mood to deal with a subway that night. I immediately fell asleep in the car and didn’t wake up until we were already cruising past Central Park (bummer because I would have loved watching the city lights as we crossed the bridge). We got into the city around 10 or 11pm and walked a block to a pizza place and got a few slices and garlic knots which I thought were DELISH. Then we walked back over to Robyn’s friend’s apartment (I thought it was stifling hot inside, considering it was near midnight, but no one else seemed to notice) and shared our travel stories before settling onto her couch for a nap from 12am to 4am. It honestly was so worth it, even though the uber back to JFK was STILL $65 even though it was freaking 4am on a Saturday! Ugh to Manhattan prices.

Back to JFK! I’m a bit sad that I didn’t get to eat Shake Shack but oh well – apparently one is coming to SJC. We got into SFO around 10:30am, got an uber home (I absolutely hate having to wait for shared rides at SFO – it is insane that the airport closest to the birthplace of Uber and Lyft has the worst airport pickup experience ever) and then FINALLY A GLORIOUS SHOWER in my own home. And then we went to a wedding! What a day.

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Porto at a glance

Vacation in a summary:

– best drink: espressotini at minibar. I no longer want any cocktails that do not have an espresso in them
– best appetizer: beef tartare cone at minibar. or the octopus at taberninha do manel
– best nata: mantegaria. BY FAR
– best meal: overall, every dish at taberninha do manel was delish
– favorite experiences: randomly stumbling upon the cocktail bar double9 after our dinner at Alma. our entire meal at Alma which was kind of delightfully lavish. eating our sardines/mackerel with pate and crackers in the comfort of our airbnb. every time i said “can I have a nata” and Robyn obliged
– favorite touristy experience: walking around Moorish Castle because the views were amazing and there weren’t as many people as in Pena Palace
– best thing about Portugal: felt safe, it was warm enough to walk around at night without having to bundle up, amazing food!

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Me in a random square in Porto
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Day 8: Sintra

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We woke up on the early side this morning, because we knew we had to catch the trains to take us to Sintra. First, our hotel provided breakfast! I personally really did not like the vibe of the breakfast … or the hotel in general. I felt like people there were starers and I would constantly notice white (tourist) people staring at me. The employees weren’t flat out rude but they weren’t particularly warm or friendly. Had the vibe been friendlier, it probably would’ve been one of my favorite meals because the breakfast was quite generous. There was a selection of breads, cheeses, meats, cereals, yogurts, spreads and yogurt toppings. THEN there were hot dishes, I remember eggs and two other things I never tried because I was trying to be “healthy”. They also had nata! Not the best but not the worst (Fabrica de Nata remains the worst nata we had). There was a variety of juices and even cut fruit like kiwi, strawberries and melons.

After this, we went back upstairs (I wanted to use the bathroom and it made sense to me to just go back to our room as opposed to using the communal lobby bathroom) before walking out to the Rossio station to catch the train. We arrived just a few minutes before the next train to Sintra would be leaving which would’ve been perfect timing … EXCEPT for the HUGE line in the station full of tourists also waiting to purchase their train tickets. It took a full twenty five minutes to wait in the lines and by the time we got the tickets, we had just BARELY missed the next train (blame it on the bathroom decision!). We had split up to purchase tickets: Robyn took the self-service kiosk line which looked shorter, but it seemed inevitable that it would take longer because of inexperienced ticket buyers. I waited in the super long line that would put me face to face with an employee. There were probably three employees vs. six kiosks and the self service line was about half as long. Guess which line won?

It turned out that as I stepped closer and closer to the ticket window, I could no longer spot Robyn in line. I didn’t know if I should get out of line or not, so I decided to just forge ahead and buy the tickets. I told him, two round trip tickets to Sintra! He told me 10 euro! I handed him a 20 … and then RIGHT THEN Robyn appeared and yelled at me “I got tickets already!” I said “well I just gave him my money!” and she said “well tell him to stop!!!” I said to him, “sorry! Can I cancel my transaction? Sorry!” He looked pretty annoyed, because he was already in the process of handing me my change, but he gave me back my money. And off we went!  Well, it was about another forty minutes until the next train, so we decided to go walk around outside since we WERE in the middle of Lisbon after all, and there was no need to wait around a boring train station.

I think we were probably located around the fancy shopping area. On our first night, our Uber driver had said that Avenue de Liberdade was the main shopping drag (which we avoided because it looked to be all chain stores). I ended up going into a Mango and promptly filled my arms with about seven items of clothing that I immediately loved. I ended up buying TWO items! I feel like I could totally shop at Mango for my entire wardrobe. Am I wrong in thinking it is a more reasonably priced Zara? Too bad Mango isn’t more popular here.

Well then we REALLY had to go and make sure we didn’t miss THIS train. So off we went! There wasn’t assigned seating and when we got back to the station, the entire train was full with standing room only. As long as I have my ipod and earbuds, I’m happy waiting and standing under any circumstance. Off we went! I think it was around 10:30 by this time. In my planning, it had said that the buses in Sintra stopped around 5:00, which is why it’s best to start the day early. I wasn’t sure how long the whole trip would take, but at the end of the day, we ended up choosing to walk back down to the train station so the 5:00 time didn’t matter anyway.

Sintra has several different landmarks to visit but the main ones people visit are Pena Palace and the Moors Castle. Had we been there a second day, you could then fit a combination of the Monserrate Palace, the Quinta da Regaleira, the Quelez Palace, the Convento dos Capuchos, and the Sintra Palace (names seem to vary based on what you’re reading). Upon arrival at the Sintra train station, we jumped in line for the bus that would take you all the way up to Pena Palace. This is probably where they make a TON of money – it was 6 euro or so for an all day? pass (we only used it once on our way up and I have no idea if it was really an all day pass). We saw some people walking – I’m glad we took the bus because it felt like a real struggle for the bus to make it up hill. The bus system ran efficiently but was the type of ride where you really have to brace yourself to avoid toppling over. The route was a TINY road with TONS of people who would walk on the road and there was a surprising amount of cars driving up to the landmarks. I can’t imagine driving to Sintra because it seemed like the streets were all one way, windy, cobbled, and hilly, and there was extremely limited parking – it was often hard to tell when there was a free parking spot and there would constantly be cars in front and behind you, so if you missed a spot, you couldn’t exactly reverse and reclaim it.

We ended up going to Pena Palace first, which seemed to be the right choice because the entrance line was even longer by the time we left in the afternoon. Presumably many people decide to get off at the first bus stop at Moors Castle, but that one’s easier to move through because everyone will disperse and spread out, whereas Pena Palace is like a parade route of tourists.

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The view of Pena Palace as you walk up from the entrance

Pena Palace was beautiful, with a nice foundation and definitely some amazing views over the town of Sintra and beyond but I couldn’t help and think that the Palace had probably undergone some significant reconstruction in recent years. It’s well known because of its beautifully painted exterior – and I’m convinced that the palace looked nothing like this when it was first constructed … in 1836?!?!?! That’s what Google said. I had assumed this place was going to say it had been built in the 15th century! I feel bamboozled now.

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Walking along Pena Palace’s walls – you can look down to Moors Castle

Anyway, the entry to the palace was gorgeous but shortly after that, you basically just ran smack into a line. You can’t tell from the entrance what it is you’re standing in line for, but you do find out who around you is the type of human to just get in line without question, and who is the type to believe they’re too important for a line and will just blindly venture on their own. The walkways were wide, which was kind of annoying because the people who skipped the line would end up just cutting back in line and there wasn’t any way to prevent them from doing so without verbally confronting them, so there was a LOT of cutting going on. A couple decided to cut in line right behind us, and the people who had been behind us didn’t make a fuss at all, so nothing happened to them! Other than me turning and staring at the man for an uncomfortably long time (to be honest, I turned around with the intent to glare at him but ended up getting distracted by his ridiculously ugly shirt and before I knew it, I had been staring at his belly for so long that he had started to stare back at me).

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Well the line turned out to be a line to enter the interior of the palace … WHICH I WOULD SKIP. Actually, the best part of the palace is to walk around the terraces and I’m not quite sure if you need to stand in line just to be able to access the terraces. Something tells me you don’t have to. I had no interest in the interior or seeing sample artifacts (many of which were placed a surprisingly close distance from our hands) but admittedly, the interior WAS better than Versailles (I really did not enjoy the Versailles interior, I suppose since Versailles had been ransacked during the revolution and no longer had much of anything). Neither Robyn or I bothered to take a single picture of the interior, which goes to tell you how interested we had been in it.

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Upon emergence from the interior, we purchased a tuna sandwich, chips and coke to share for lunch, since we hadn’t brought anything to eat (a major oversight!). Since cokes and bottled waters were about the same price in Portugal, I drank SOOOO much coke on this trip. What do the locals do?! I don’t get how Europeans seem to drink so little water.

After our little lunch, we walked around the terraces, and explored the edges of the castle, which is where the real beauty is. From here, you can look out over Sintra and it’s remarkably green. You could also see the walls of the Moors castle which was cool. I could’ve walked the entire perimeter of the palace, but Robyn was uninterested, probably because the view doesn’t change significantly and it was incredibly windy.

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Picture taken from one of the terraces in Moors Castle

Well, after a bit of exploration of Pena Palace, we then walked down the road to the Moors Castle, which was only a ten minute walk. I loved this one – it’s surprising how much space they allow tourists to walk through in the Castle. A lot of climbing involved, a lot of great views … very cool! Also a bit windy.

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Then we walked back down toward the center of Sintra. I had no sense of direction so I have no idea how to get from Moors Castle to the train station but Robyn led the way. Along the walk, we stopped for pastries at a famous place called Piriquita (we ended up at their second location, but I’m kind of glad this happened because the original location looked SO busy). We purchased the famous Sintra pastry, the travessiero, and got a macaron and a coconut cookie of some sort. Everything was DELISH. The travessiero, the whole reason we went into the bakery, was decent – better than the one we had gotten in Lisbon a few days earlier. But their coconut treats were AMAZING. SOOOO moist. Wish I could have it now! We got it to-go, because the wait for a table was crazy (so many tourists lounging at tables with very little on the tables to eat) and ate our pastries while standing on the shaded side of nearby street. Then we walked around – Robyn tried a delicacy, the ginginha which is a cherry liquor poured into an edible chocolate cup (the size of a peanut butter cup).

Hmm then I remember peering into more shops, and randomly stopping for gelato. The selection was super cool, a lot of local flavors like nata flavor and other unique ones. I ended up getting … oh no I’ve already forgotten! 😦 But it was … AMAZING!

Then we got back on the train! Managed to grab a seat. The train was totally full when it finally pulled out of the station, and several people had to stand. I’m certain the entire seated population promptly took a nap. I certainly did and didn’t really wake back up until we pulled into Rossio. What a day!

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But that’s not all! After leaving the station, we ended up walking around and going into McDonalds for a quick bite. I got a mchicken, Robyn got a cheeseburger. It was just ok – Lisbon’s McDonalds menu isn’t particularly different from America’s (I think they sell some sort of pea soup that I did not order). Then back to hotel for a little rest. THEN we went out for a late dinner, with plans of looking for a gastropub or some sort of tapas restaurant. We headed to one that was super popular, but the wait would probably have taken over an hour. Even though we weren’t that hungry, the restaurant was sort of in a dark alley with nothing to do, so we decided to just continue on. I found a place on tripadvisor that was super mediocre. Serviceable, but it turned out if we had just continued walking, we would have stumbled upon some cool places. OH WELL! It was still a fun, memorable meal because we ordered polvo, a sandwich, and sangria. I got pretty drunk and couldn’t bring myself to finish my share of the sangria. 😦

Then we continued our walk back to the hotel, stopping along the way at a souvenir shop (I came real close to buying a little breakfast tray that I still wonder if I should’ve bought) and my favorite of course, ANOTHER Manteigara shop for our FINAL, delicious nata experience. This time, we each got our own (usually we would share a single nata).

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That was the rest of our night and the end of our trip! We got back to the hotel, I ended up staying up super late to pack my bag, and then I finally got into bed.

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Day 7: Lisbon

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The square near our Porto hotel that we’d pass through every time we went out

Vacation is wrapping up! We woke up and packed and then headed down for breakfast, the last one at the b&b. Then we got an uber and headed to the train station to go back to Lisbon. Train ride was about three and a half hours and uneventful (just as packed as it was on the way to Porto). We arrived in the Lisbon train station and waited for our uber to arrive (while about twenty empty taxis sat in front of the station … awkward!). It turned out that today was a religious holiday, Corpus Christi, and there were parades going on in downtown Lisbon. We didn’t know this, nor did our driver, who had started to drive around the hilly streets of Lisbon to maneuver around the traffic. It looked like it was working out well, until we came up to a roadblock and got diverted in the opposite direction. Our driver was spinning his wheels in a panic, and if we had gotten out of the car at the roadblock, our hotel probably would’ve been a short walk away. But he ended up just driving farther and farther in the opposite direction, contemplating what to do. Luckily, our driver was familiar with the streets and didn’t just kick us out of our uber, and after some thinking, figured out a really back alley way of getting to our hotel. I was super impressed – it seemed likely he’d leave us somewhere and we’d have to lug our luggage through the super touristy, hilly, and cobbled streets of the Chiado – but he got us right to the hotel doorsteps! For this, and his added ~30 minutes of traffic time, we give him a tip of 2 euro.

Anyway, we finally checked into our hotel – a pricey, very stylish hotel called Browns Central Hotel. It was walking distance to our airbnb, but more central to the shopping action. Our room was really well decorated, but it was hard to get a good picture of it – EEK I might not have ANY good pictures of the room! The bed was super comfortable and they had nice amenities like a nespresso machine, a marbled shower with two shower heads, and a variety of lighting that were all operated on different switches. We tried not to get too comfortable after checking in, because we had decided that this afternoon would be the day where we went back to ALL of our favorite Lisbon spots!

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First stop: we returned to the very first shop we’d gone into in Lisbon. Next stop, fish! We went back to Lojas das Conservas and we both loaded up on our faves. I loved the pates (so far I’ve only had the mackerel pate with port wine) and sardines/mackerel in spicy olive oil. I kind of wish I had bought way more pates, now that I’m thinking about it. Why didn’t I get a years worth supply!?!?

Then we did natas natas natas. We were on the hunt for them, and all of a sudden, nata everywhere! We stopped at a place called Cafe Brasilera and ordered a nata and a travesseiro de sintra pastry, as well as a Coke. It was an old establishment, where you’d stand and eat your foods over a narrow marble counter. Just ok in taste but great in ambiance! Right next door was a nata chain store called Fabrica de Nata. Very touristy interior, and the nata was the worst we had – WAYYY too buttery! Blech! Then we headed back toward Time Out Market so we could have a dinner and of course another nata from the best nata place of all, Manteigara.

Once we got into Time Out Market we realized … all of the places we had gone to had a storefront right in the market! We had just walked around Lisbon for no reason! There was the art store … the fish store … the natas we had been craving. Oh well, I still enjoyed our little walk through Lisbon. So we ordered our last nata for the night and a cappuccino (Manteigara also does a good cappuccino). Then we wandered around the market to find dinner. We went back to the spot we had picked for lunch nearly a week before, but this time got the pork sandwich (IT WAS DELICIOUS but a bit small). We also lined up for Manteigara Silva to pick up a charcuterie board (a different establishment from the nata place, I’m not sure if they’re affiliated but Manteigara apparently translates to BUTTER FACTORY). I was tasked with finding seats and was really lucky to find one after about twenty minutes of searching. Seat finding in populated areas is one of the most stressful activities that I could undertake. The charcuterie board was WAY saltier than I am used to. But the pork sandwich was YUM.

Then we started to head back toward our hotel, and ended up passing a craft brewery along the way. After watching Robyn stare longingly through the window, I was like, let’s go in! So we went in and did a flight of five. The people there were super friendly and the brewery was so cute – it had two floors with counter seating, table seating and sofa seating. SUPER cozy. We chose an upstairs table where no one was sitting, but there was a plate of half eaten food left on the table. It turned out that one of the two employees was in the middle of her dinner break, so I felt a little awkward when she came back, even though she probably thought nothing of it. She would occasionally interject in our conversation to drop some interesting Portugal brewery facts on us. I later told Robyn “I REALLY WANTED TO BE HER FRIEND” but I had no idea how to go about it. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. HA

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THEN we headed back to the hotel. It wasn’t that late, maybe 9pm. I scrolled through the tv and really impressed with myself by seeing the first ten seconds of Children of Men, saying out loud “is this Children of Men?” and then realizing I was totally right! I ended up watching the entire movie that night – it is a pretty disturbing movie now that we’re ten years out from its release and it seems so much more closer to reality (ok this was back in early June, and now I’m posting this entry in late June after all the immigration detention centers news came out and Children of Men is MORE RELEVANT THAN EVER). Robyn initially pretended not to pay attention to the movie and at some point, turned over to go to sleep. OR SO I THOUGHT! Because in the middle of the movie, she suddenly made a comment on it and I turned to look at her and realized that she had, at some point, put on her glasses but wasn’t in the mood to move her body toward the TV and was watching the movie by staring at the mirror across from her. HAHA.

Then, shower in the nice marbled shower, then bed!

Day 6: Matosinhos

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street art from the prior day

It seems like a lot of people will say they loved Porto more than Lisbon. I could see how living in Porto could be more ideal than living in Lisbon, but tourist-wise, I didn’t think there was THAT much to do in Porto. But it did feel more authentic, less touristy. This was the hardest day for me to blog from memory (although I am also writing in chronological order so maybe it’s just the natural decay of my memory now that it’s been ten days since my return).

For our second full day in Porto, we started off with our b&b breakfast again, one of my favorite parts of the trip because of how peaceful the experience was. The worker in charge of breakfast was different from our first morning – while she set out way more quiches, they were all COLD! And I hate it when things eaten hot are served cold (example: I think cold pizza is disgusting). At least the cappuccinos were just as good as the first morning’s.

We then walked to a comic book store that Robyn had found, which involved a one mile walk through a section of Porto that probably zero tourists intentionally walk through. On the plus side, I felt like a real Porto citizen, walking to work! The mall was a bit sad, the kind that’s half vacant and what IS there, you don’t really know how they possibly sell enough to stay in business. Oh well, this stop helped us get our steps in for the day. We caught an uber to our next destination, the Serralves, which I wanted to go to for its gardens. This was located way farther into the residential area of Porto, which was nice to drive through and see in passing.

Upon reaching the Serralves, we were informed that the gardens were CLOSED for preparation of the FREE concert that would be taking place in a few days, so our admission would only grant us access to the contemporary art museum. I was crushed but we had already spent money on an uber to get here, so we went to the museum anyway. Robyn enjoys contemporary art – I hate it. To this day, I regret not saying “can we get admission at half off if we can’t see the gardens?” Robyn’s favorite piece in the museum was a collection of pictures of various water towers. Mine was a huge picture of the Coimbra university library. I’m not going to bother posting pictures of either. To put it in perspective though, when we were in Japan, we had spent an entire day going to three different contemporary art museums, each requiring a relatively hefty admission, and one of which only had three pieces. So if compared against THAT museum … I guess this one was not that bad.

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street art near our guesthouse

We then walked toward the Foz beach area, stopping for a quick pastry and cappuccino snack. Again, watery cappuccino! We tried to get into a burger place that looked really good, but they were in between lunch and dinner service so we got turned away. Then began a slow, sad walk along the beach boardwalk where all we wanted was to eat somewhere nice, but there was nothing good or open because of the off hour. We eventually found a place to uber to in the Matosinhos area, which I had originally wanted to visit anyway, on the recommendation of my coworker. The area is known for fresh seafood, though nothing else (it is very much a shipping area). So off we went!

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it’s a lot less beautiful when you’re starving

Unfortunately, the restaurant we had set the uber to ALSO turned us away. After he had JUST seated two people in the front! What a slap in the face. We ended up walking around and finding another seafood place that looked decent … and most importantly, ALLOWED US TO SIT! Almost all their customers had chosen to sit outside. It was a nice day, but there was no more outdoor seating available, so we chose to sit inside where there was only one party and MANY empty tables. We originally just wanted to get tapas, so we ordered octopus, shrimp, and fried sardines. Which, for the record, we would have been totally satisfied with. However, in the midst of ordering, I felt really weird about not ordering an entree, so we ended up adding sea bass and rice to our order. Our super nice waiter went around the kitchen and held up a whole sea bass and asked if it was ok. I had no idea and just said yes, but from where I was sitting, it looked like a HUGE FISH. I then proceeded to freak out, because I had no idea how big the fish was, the dish was priced by the weight, and I had no concept of how many kg a fish is or how to convert the kg to lb and then from euro to usd. This resulted in me whispering to Robyn “I THINK THIS MEAL MIGHT COST US 200 EURO.” SPOILER: it did not. The sea bass was great, and it came with a giant pot of rice that would have easily served a family of four as a filling, stand alone meal. Again, by this point we had already had three appetizers, bread, AND A WHOLE FISH.

Other than our Michelin star restaurant meal, this was our most expensive meal. Wait, just kidding, Minibar was our second most expensive meal. However, this was easily the most filling, in that we WAY over ordered. Or rather, they gave us way larger portions than would be sensible for a table of two.

The waiter was super nice and cute though. He offered us desserts and seemed surprised that we would decline them. AGAIN, see above for how much food we had eaten. After we paid, he then came by again and served us free port wine, which was so nice 🙂 We were clearly insane tourists who had no idea what was going on – even our uber driver to Matosinhos had commented along the lines of “you know, NO ONE eats lunch or dinner at this hour in Portugal.”

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Foz beach

Then an uber back to our b&b … we both fell asleep in the car and I have no idea how long the drive actually was, but if you told me it had taken 90 minutes to go the four miles, I would totally believe you. All I remember is waking up, noting we were still fully stopped amidst a ton of traffic, and then drift back to sleep. Again, that’s why I love ubers in foreign countries – it feels so much more safer than taking a taxi because you know the driver would not benefit from taking you on a circuitous ride, and regardless of traffic, you’ve already agreed upon the price. We then walked around a fancy wine shop just across the street from our b&b (bought nothing) before heading back into our room for our daily late-day nap. I’m not sure what I loved most of all during our trip: 1) our daily naps before night time activities, 2) our Lisbon sardine pre-dinner fest, or 3) random stops into pastry shops to sample their desserts and have a cappuccino.

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I was INTENT on going out again at night to the main nightlife scene in Porto. So at 10:00pm, off we went! The main street to walk down is Rua da Galeria de Paris, but it really extends to the next two streets. It’s a small area but they really have their bar decor down in the area. TONS of super cute drinking spots and tapas restaurants. And the street looks totally dumpy during the day. We were still so insanely full from our seafood lunch though, that all I could possibly have were desserts. And we found the perfect place! A HUGE dessert place that served EVERYTHING – primarily gelato but also cupcakes and coffee drinks. I got some sort of hazelnut hot chocolate and maybe Robyn got some sort of coffee cookie frappuccino? I don’t know but it was DELICIOUS and they had a ton of different seating options to choose from and it was much easier to sit there and enjoy the night rather than in a bar.

And then back to the b&b for a nice last sleep in Porto!

Day 5: Duoro Valley

A major daytrip option for Porto is to take a cruise down the Duoro river for wine tastings and to look out at the vineyards. For a long time I assumed we’d being doing this, but I’d get really stressed trying to figure out what tour to book. In the end, Robyn and I were like, neither of us actually wants to spend nine hours on a cruise with a bunch of strangers, especially since I don’t drink that much wine. So we didn’t! I think we made the right choice, particularly because I later read that the most beautiful spots are much farther inland, where you’d have to take a train first before getting on the boat. TOO MUCH WORK! I loved what we did instead, which was much more at our leisure.

Our hotel in Porto had daily breakfasts. I spent every morning charging my phone during breakfast so unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the food, but it was quite good! There would be a selection of quiches, toast, cheese, meats. You could also do cereal, or yogurt and granola. I am often dubious of yogurt abroad (I have no idea why – the rational assumption would be that the artificial yogurt produced in America would be of the worst kind) so I didn’t try any the first day, which I later HEAVILY regretted. I wish I could be eating that yogurt and granola right now. We could also ask for coffees, and every morning we asked for cappuccinos. And in all honesty, of all the cappuccinos we had across Portugal, in all the little bakeries, cafes and restaurants we stepped into, the ones made here were THE BEST. And we kind of assume these are probably just a nespresso machine. But they’d add cocoa powder and maybe cinnamon? I don’t know but they were AMAZING and the perfect proportion of water to foam. We often found that other cappuccinos were too watery. Anyway, for every breakfast, Robyn and I would take our dishware and fill it with food and sit outside in the beautiful private garden attached to the b&b. Generally we were the only guests to do this. The age range of guests here really varied, there were old couples and there were young groups of friends. No one made any effort to get to know one another.

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Well we started our first day with the intent of walking around and trying to see as much street art as we could. Since we were apparently located in the “art district” of Porto. There was cool stuff sprinkled here and there. Then we passed through more shops and such to get towards the the Luis Bridge, which you cross to reach the wineries side. Super touristy but here we had the most delicious meal of our trip. Before that amazing meal though, we stopped in our first port winery, Kopke. We did a tasting of three which came with  a little plate of chocolates. I realized halfway through the tasting that I was already drunk, and I was like OH NO is this going to be black out drunk or merely red face drunk?! Luckily I was only red faced.

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I don’t think this writing is properly conveying the leisurely pace at which we walked, but we did a lot of stuff … slowly. HAHA After Kopke’s we started looking for a place to eat. There are often people standing outside the restaurant who try to sweet talk you into walking in. We had yelped a place, so when someone tried to connect with me by saying ni hao to me, we politely waved at him and moved on. But when we arrived at our intended restaurant, it was closed! So we walked back to our new friend, who was thrilled to see us again. He seated us inside, and the whole time Robyn had thought this was another restaurant she’d seen on Yelp that had gotten great reviews. It turned out that we were seated at the next door restaurant, in no way affiliated with the amazingly reviewed restaurant just a wall away!!! I was at first super embarrassed to get up and leave … but no one served us for a full ten minutes. No one gave us water or asked if we wanted anything or acknowledged us in any way. So then I felt more justified in standing up and walking out. Of COURSE the moment we stood up, a server rushed over to ask if everything was ok. Robyn walked out with purpose, while I said “um … yeah we need to check on something…” and then rushed out.

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WELL it was the best decision of the trip! We ate at Taberninha do Manel, kind of like a gastropub (I guess the less hipstery word is “tavern”?). The ambiance inside was done extremely well – dim lighting, heavy on the wood, curved like a cave. We ordered octopus, croquettes, prosciutto salad, tempura green beans, and a melted cheese bread thing. AMAZINGNESS ALL AROUND. At the time, I thought the lighting was too dim for a good picture, so I didn’t really bother with the proper angles. Which I’m now bummed about because it turns out the lighting was sufficient, but I now just have pictures of half eaten plates.

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Onward! We continued our walk along the river, with the destination of Taylor’s Winery. This is probably one of the more popular wineries, because they have nice grounds. Many of the famous wineries are located higher up in the hills, so there’s a bit of a climb. We essentially had to walk past a huge construction zone, which was even more impressive in scope once we reached Taylor’s Winery and could look over the whole area.

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We got a tasting of five glasses, but personally, I liked Kopke’s more. I liked the white port more, which is even sweeter than the red, which probably means I just have no sophisticated taste for wine. Way less intimate here at Taylor’s – obviously people are here to get in and out with photos for the gram! But it was definitely a nice venue.

Then we walked back towards the bridge, this time walking on the upper portion. Which I LOVED. There was really cool street art mixed in with the street stairs. A woman and I stood there for a full five minutes waiting for all the passerbys to go so we could finally take a picture without anyone on it. (She then asked me to take a picture of her and her boyfriend, so I imagine she noticed how particular I was with my photo taking).

Even as we were walking on the upper part of the bridge, I noticed a lot of houses nearby were vacant. And none of them seemed particularly nice on the outside. I mean, living in SF, clearly that means nothing because something that looks like a hovel outside could end up being a beautiful home inside. But it seemed really weird to me that there were these houses with probably some of the best views of Porto, high up, but vacant! I have no idea what Portugal does for its economy.

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We finally touched back down onto the Porto side and continued our walk back toward our hotel. We stopped for pastries and cappuccino. I think this is what I will miss most of all – stopping to spend 3 on two giant pastries and a cappuccino. We reached our b&b (I keep interchanging hotel and b&b – it is technically titled “guesthouse”) and climbed back up the four flights of stairs to rest. I loved our Porto days because we would have really full days and then we’d return to nap and then have PART B of the day, when we’d go out and somehow find room in our bellies for more food/drinks.

I vaguely remember Robyn napping. I probably napped and just spent my time going through the internet (always crazy to see the world unfold eight hours ahead). I feel like this was the day Roseanne got cancelled so I spent a long time going through Twitter looking at all the reactions. The first time I saw the headline “Roseanne cancelled after Roseanne tweets racist remarks” I honestly thought it was something from The Onion. I was like, REALLY?! of ALL the things that gets the #1 ABC show canned, it’s racist remarks?! As if no one had ever looked at Roseanne’s twitter before starting the reboot up again.

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Anyway, we ended up going back out, with the intent of just walking down the street to check out a craft beer place. We ended up passing by an arepas place, and decided to stop in – and it was amazing! It was close to 11pm when we walked out, and after we sat down and ordered, we then found out that the restaurant had already closed. But they let us in! I think it was a relatively new restaurant. I have no idea if it was a grand opening or just another Wednesday night, but we were clearly the only patrons in that restaurant, and the employees had invited a group of their friends to come and they were having a very loud party involving blasting music through the restaurant. I honestly felt like we had crashed in on someone’s private party but they had been too nice to turn us away. Robyn and I each ended up ordering the same arepa for ourselves and sharing fried yellow plantains topped with cotija cheese as an appetizer. When the plantains came out, I was like, omg these are AMAZING, and immediately became very excited for our upcoming arepas. This place did NOT disappoint. HUGE portions. Perfectly made. Terrible to photograph. I think we had ordered the shredded beef, black beans, and cheese arepa.

Then we went to the craft beer shop literally across the street. I got myself a tiny little cup of draft mead, which was DELICIOUS. Honestly, mead should become the next big thing. Plus it was a tiny portion, for much cheaper, and it was the perfect amount for me. It was a delight! And a great nightcap. We walked back home and probably went to bed around 1 (well, I probably went to bed at 2am).

Day 4: Porto

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We woke up and walked past the Elevador de Santa Justa to a cafe we’d looked up (this was one thing I really wanted to do in Lisbon – eat brunch at a nice cafe) and arrived at Tartine. Which is the name of a popular bakery in SF which is quite apt because the cafe reminded me exactly of something that you would find in SF. It wasn’t particularly outstanding but we each ordered toast (it was equivalent to avocado toast in terms of price and size) and the amount of meat on the toast was generous. There is no way any restaurant in America would give such a large amount of prosciutto. We then got three bakery treats to go. SIGH now that I’m looking at pictures I feel sad that we didn’t gorge ourselves even more on delicious bakery treats.

We left our glorious airbnb (I wouldn’t have minded staying in it for the entire trip) and took an uber to the train station. It would then take a three hour train ride to Porto. There’s plenty of trains running and luckily, we were able to get a train that would leave just five minutes after we arrived at the station. Every seat on the train would eventually be filled. We started from the end station, so at first we thought it’d be a fairly empty ride. But the next station was Oriente, and TONS of people boarded from there.

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I usually love staring out trains but sadly, I had gone to bed around 4am the night before (which ended up being more the norm, me just being on my phone until way too late in the night) so I spent most of the ride sleeping. Our Porto station was also the end station, so that was super easy! No way to miss your stop. From there, we took an uber to our hotel, which was more of a b&b. I feel like in the bay area, the only people who take taxis are tourists, but I wonder if in Lisbon, it’s mainly tourists taking uber? I kept thinking Uber should somehow do a deal with phone companies where people are allowed to use roaming data solely on the uber app for free. Because it’s such a godsend when you’re abroad, to be able to put in the address and trust that you won’t be swindled or taken on a circuitous route or have to try to show the driver where you’re trying to go.

Our b&b, the Mercador Guesthouse, was well located, in the “art” district of Porto. It had the feel of an old colonial house, and I’m pretty sure the owner said just as much. I never really paid attention to getting around though. To this day, after spending three nights at the same place, I still have no idea how to get to anywhere in Porto. Thank goodness Robyn has an amazing sense of direction.

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This was more of a “low budget” stay in terms of ambiance but it was one of the more reasonably priced hotels. We weren’t in the main shopping area, which we preferred. Our room was on the fourth floor of a walk-up (the stairs were no joke). The AC went up to 30 degrees C but it honestly felt like there was no difference between 20 and 30 degrees. That room was FREEZING. Bathroom was a bit tight but I kind of loved it for our mid-vacation stay. Because one of my favorite memories of the trip will be when I was peeling an orange over the bathroom sink while Robyn was showering and upon her exiting, (keep in mind, this is a TINY bathroom), I fed her oranges from hand to mouth and remarked “it feels like you’re a seal that I’m feeding fish to” which caused her to laugh and spit orange bits into the sink, which then made ME go “HEY, MY FUCKING ORANGE!!! I TOOK TIME TO PEEL THAT!”

Anyway, we organized our room a bit and then started our walk to the main touristy bits of Porto. First stop, Livraria Lello and the shops around it. This is an old bookshop, recently made famous due to its supposed inspiration to JK Rowling while she lived in Porto. You actually needed to pay admission just to enter this bookshop, and it was FILLED with people. There is no way you could get a person-less photo in any square inch of the bookshop. At first I thought the admission was 3 and I was already annoyed and THEN I found out it had been 5!!! Ah well.

We then walked through the shopping streets, but these same streets are really best explored at night when the bars come alive. We were starving and I made Robyn navigate us toward Casa Guedes, a low key place famous for its pork sandwiches, but a block before we would have arrived, we came across Cafe Santiago which is really famous for the francesinha. We were so hungry that we ended up coming in here instead (now I’m a little sad because the rating for Casa Guedes is higher on yelp, and we never had the opportunity to come back to this area). I would say Cafe Santiago was the most disappointing restaurant of the trip, considering how many places put Cafe Santiago as the top francesinha. Comparing it to the francesinha we had in the Time Out Market would be like comparing a diner meal against a gourmet interpretation. On the super plus side, apparently there’s often huge lines out the door, but when we arrived, it was 4pm and there was only one other party in the restaurant. By the time we had ordered though, the entire restaurant had filled up.

We left insanely full, because we had both essentially ordered a heavy meat sandwich with fries. Although it wasn’t the most amazing meal, it was still a fun, laidback experience.

We continued around the shopping area and I almost bought a $60 shirt that I’m now really glad that I didn’t. The only reason I had not bought the shirt was probably because the store employees were so pushy, it made me want to leave. I always think it’s so strange in other countries when employees are so up in your face, even when it’s a big chain store that presumably, they are not getting profit cuts.

There wasn’t anything terribly interesting on this side of Porto. There was a blue tiled church – tiles are a huge thing in Portugal – but that was really about it.

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I stopped for gelato at Amorino, which I always remember as the most famous gelato place in Paris that I absolutely loved until I went to New York City and saw it there too and then started seeing it EVERYWHERE. Globalization!!! We were super full from our late lunch so we started walking back home, stopped in a McDonalds that was supposedly one of the nicest McDonalds in Europe (it was nice, but after looking at an article of the nicest McDonalds in the world, it doesn’t come close) and then went home at 9pm and FELL ASLEEP. I was a bit sad because I would have loved to go back out and walk the same streets at night and see what Porto was like at night, but Robyn wasn’t in the mood. SPOILER: we did this the following two nights, so in hindsight, I’m glad we had a much needed relaxed night in. AND we had been walking around straight from 4pm to 9pm and up since 9am! That’s pretty decent.

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Day 2: Lisbon

 

 

 

We started off our first full day in Portugal, probably around 10:30am. Within the first five minutes of stepping outside of our airbnb, we had already spent about €30 in shopping. One of my most important shopping wins from this day was when we went to Flying Tiger Copenhagen (which is now my new favorite store when I’m vacationing) because I was able to pick up 50cent soap bars, which turned out to be CRITICAL for our trip. I can ONLY shower with soap bars, and it turned out that everywhere we went, we only got body wash. I also picked up a shampoo and conditioner for €3 each (SPOILER: I had to throw them both away on our return flight, which I am a little sad about).

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Our first shopping stop was a place called Toranja, which we would later find out had a storefront in the Time Out Market as well, but this one was literally just a few storefronts away from our airbnb so it felt like a hidden treasure that we had stumbled upon. It was sandwiched between tons of shops that in America, have essentially been replaced by big box stores. Everything in here had been designed by a Portuguese artist – postcards, coasters, posters, t-shirts and wallets were the main draws.

Our first food stop was to Casa Portuguesa, to try a balcalhau (codfish) pastry. It was super salty, and is basically a fried nugget of codfish with cheese inside. It was a fun treat, but I presume there are cheaper and more delicious versions in less touristy areas. I was really surprised that days into the trip, Robyn named it as one of her favorite foods. We continued walking through the Baixa-Chiado neighborhood (conveniently where our airbnb was located), passing a ton of shops and street cafes. I’m convinced nearly everyone in the city is a tourist.

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We headed to the Time Out Market, which is a huge food market that had been recently refurbished into a beautiful food court of many of Lisbon’s most famous (or at least best advertised) restaurants. The first thing we had here would become the love of my Portugal trip – Manteigaria’s pastel de nata. It was the very first nata we tried, and at the end of the trip, we both agreed it was the absolute best (even though Pasteis de Belem is the more famous location). I knew from the first bite that it would be my favorite.

 

 

 

Apparently Time Out Market will have similar markets opening in NYC, Chicago, Boston and Miami so this is going to become a sweeping trend (god everything gets touched by globalization). We chose to eat at Miguel Castro E Silva, after doing a slow sweep around the market. The decision was made after I spotted someone with a plate of sardines on toast and I asked him where he got his dish. He misunderstood and responded with “you just walk around and choose what you want” and I said “no, where did you get THAT?” and he went “OH!” and pointed me in the direction.

It was the absolute slowest wait ever, to the point that Robyn went up to check on our order out of boredom, even though our buzzer hadn’t gone off and it was clear that almost no one else had been called to get their food. Also, the market is packed with people, specifically tourists. It’s tough to find a spot to sit (even though there are SO many seats), mainly because there’s just such a heavy flow of traffic and tons of people will sit without even having food to eat. Anyway, more than 30 minutes later (which is insane considering our chosen food stall had about ten things on their menu) we finally were able to consume our francesinha and our sardines on toast. A francesinha is a Portuguese sandwich made up of sausage, ham, steak, and other meats I didn’t know how to distinguish, with an egg and slices of cheese melted on top, laid on a tomato soup. We would later eat at Casa Guedes, which serves the most famous francesinha, but that was diner style whereas this was more gourmet style. The sardines on toast was more beautiful than delicious, but I still enjoyed it.

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It was now 1:30pm so after observing the outside street vendors (Robyn picked up a cute pair of sardine earrings) we took an Uber to Belem, the farthest Lisbon neighborhood we’d visit. Famous here is the Tower of Belem (we did not go in) and then the monastery (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos) which we also didn’t enter. We did walk through the Belem Cultural Center, which was really a collection of museums, kind of like Golden Gate Park. Importantly, we stopped at Pasteis de Belem for our second nata of the day (it was meh even though it is the most popular nata destination). Just way too touristy first of all. The crust wasn’t as perfectly crispy as Manteigaria’s.

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Then we walked over two miles to LXFactory which is a trendy outdoor shopping/restaurant/art space. By the time we arrived, I think we were insanely tired from walking (when it was essentially 6am for us) so we weren’t too energized about doing anything. Which might have saved us from overspending and buying things we didn’t need. LX Factory had a lot of interesting, but pricey stores, and if we had had more energy it probably would have been more exciting. Super hipster vibe, with interesting cafes and tiny little, expensive looking restaurants.

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Then we took an uber from LXFactory back to the Time Out Market, because I really regretted not buying these two ceramic dishes from a street vendor earlier that morning. I successfully bought my two dishes (SPOILER: I saw these same dishes a few other times during the trip and I got them at their CHEAPEST!!! Success!) and then we walked back towards our airbnb, stopping in TONS of stores along the way.

I think we stopped in three different canned sardine stores. The first one, Lojas das Conservas, was our absolute favorite and we would return another two times. The most famous one is Conserveira de Lisboa – we only dropped in but didn’t really look around too long. It actually had more of a butcher shop feel (not that they were canning in our presence, more because you just ordered from a counter). Lojas seemed to be the most reasonably priced, with a pretty good selection, and was a much more open space which made it easier to mill around. There were several other, flashier sardine shops that were fun to stop in but not budget friendly enough to purchase. We ended up picking a sardine can and a pate that night, before returning to our airbnb…

 

 

 

… where we then proceeded to eat said sardines and pate, even though we had reservations to Alma, a Michelin star restaurant, in just three hours!!! I was initially aghast to eat before our dinner, but it turned out to be perfect. Thanks to this impromptu tasting, we discovered our extreme love for sardines, pate and crackers and put it on our list to return and buy more. And it totally didn’t ruin our Alma experience!

 

 

 

So at 9:30pm, we went to Alma (though food probably didn’t come to us until 10:15pm). This was my first Michelin restaurant experience and honestly, at €100 per person, it was, dare I say, reasonably priced. We each ordered a prix fixe meal, I got the “coast to coast” which has: mackerel (the reason why I chose this mealset), squid with soup, red prawn, sea bass with rice, and a yuzu sorbet with seaweed dessert. Robyn got the “Alma” which has: carrots (the sole reason why I declined to order this one), foie gras, octopus (this kickstarted my intense need to order octopus at every possible restaurant that served it in Portugal), suckling pork (possibly the most flavorful bite of this excellent meal), and an apple tart. I know those descriptions are terrible because it sounds super basic, but every plate was intricately made. I think we both ordered the perfect meal for our individual tastes, but we also split every dish with each other so we got to sample so much together (I don’t care if it’s tacky!). In addition to this, we each got the same four amuse-bouche (a word I only learned during this meal) which included: shrimp crackers, gazpacho, tempura, scallop, and some other fish. Unfortunately, these weren’t listed on the menu and I had a tough time deciphering our servers’ accents so I’m not certain if I have named these accurately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, food was DELISH. Service was great. The restaurant was surprisingly empty when we left around midnight. Turns out we were probably the last table to be seated at 9:30, which seems really early (Spain, this is not). We then decided to walk through Bairro Alto, which is their hilly, nightlife area. There was a ton of people, and honestly since we were in a foreign country, I felt a little unsafe, even though it was probably super safe. With the intention of walking back home, I stopped to look at a really cool looking cocktail bar across the street and Robyn recognized it was Double9, one she had been secretly hoping to stop in. It took a long time for our drinks to come, but this was a SUPER trendy bar and it was fun to just watch the bartenders make their excessively complex drinks. I ordered another cocktail with coffee and liquor and Robyn got something that involved a rubber ducky in it. Several people ordered drinks that involved burning a cinnamon stick, which was the most distinguishable drink because it involved a ton of smoke. Fun and flashy!

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Then we made it home. ANOTHER FUN DAY!!!

 

 

 

Day 1: Dublin / Lisbon

This might be the first time I’m going to blog about my entire vacation after already having returned home. Previously I used to expend a lot of energy and index finger skin cells by swyping my way through a blog post on my smartphone. But Portugal was exhausting, in a good way, where I didn’t have time to blog. Honestly, I had completely forgotten about the concept of blogging until more than halfway through the trip.

The flight to Lisbon left at 5:30pm at SFO and landed in Dublin, Ireland at noon the next day.  It just so happened that we landed in Dublin on their Referendum day. We asked a flight attendant if it would make sense to exit the airport and explore the city and she was all for it. Super nice! The night before, I had direct messaged two Irish people I knew (from my Peru trip YEARS ago!!!) and asked for recommendations and I got tons of info! They were both busy campaigning for the referendum so I wouldn’t be able to see them, but that’s ok. When we were going through security at SFO, there was a single lady standing with a poster thanking people for returning home to vote. I’m really impressed by the political engagement.

We flew British Airways and the movie selection was terrible. Robyn and I sat next to one another (of course I took the middle seat and she got the aisle, because I have a heart of gold). My favorite memory will be of us playing trivia against one another, though I only won one round. I basically rewatched movies I had already seen before and would just skip to all my favorite parts. At the moment, I can only remember watching Edge of Tomorrow, Black Panther, Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part One and The Last Jedi… yeesh is that really all I can remember?

When we got into Dublin Airport, we jumped on a bus that would take us into the city (per the recommendation of my Irish friend). The buses in Dublin seem to be all double decker and we headed to the top floor. It was an uncommonly HOT day in Dublin, everyone seemed to love it but I thought it was a few notches above comfortable. Upon sitting on the bus, we realized we actually had no idea how to get to where we wanted (Temple Bar area) and it looked like the bus would pass righttttt by it and then take a one hour loop away from it before hitting the exact stop we wanted. We decided to chance it and just jump off the bus and walk to where we wanted to be … and it ended up being a mile extra of walking through who knows what.

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Trinity College at a glance

We walked through bits of Trinity College. We could not figure a way to exit the college grounds without having to loop around and come back the way we entered. I don’t know if that was an us problem or an actual, intentional facet to their campus grounds. My friend had given us tons of restaurant recommendations … but we didn’t go to any of them! An ice cream place called Murphy’s caught my eye, where we ended up sharing a cone (of a flavor I’m pretty sure neither of us enjoyed) and then we ended up going to Nando’s! HA.

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We clearly had never been in a Nando’s (technically I have ordered a to-go meal once from a location in Calgary). The woman next to us could obviously overhear every idiotic touristy comment we made. The meal was fine, but I’m sure we did not order the correct things (I got a delish wrap and I think Robyn got some sort of “burger”).

Then we walked around the Temple Bar area. It was 3pm and neither of us felt like drinking. Maybe the most interesting part of our walk was finding a graffiti wall of Kanye West. Then we visited Dublin Castle which was … unremarkable. We had to grab a taxi to get us back to the airport and we sat through the slowest traffic and both fell asleep as the car made its slow crawl through what felt like the only street leading from the city center into the suburbs.

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Dublin Castle. I can’t even imagine what it looked like back in the day, it’s been made over so much

Then onto the plane, a short three hour flight from Dublin into Lisbon! I’m thankful we made the decision to leave the airport because we had about an hour in there and within twenty minutes we were bored.

When we landed, the Lisbon airport was practically empty (it was 10pm). Lisbon is eight hours ahead of CA. We grabbed an Uber to the airbnb, which is honestly, the BEST airbnb I have ever stayed in. It was surprisingly cheap, beautifully decorated, and extremely well located. Our host had to meet us in order to let us in, and he gave us a great rundown of the city. The best thing he owned for tourists was this incredibly helpful guidebook

After our check-in, Robyn and I went to eat at Minibar Teatro, an extremely pricey gastropub. I had found it in my research, then Jeana had recommended it. I was a bit uncertain about going because it showed €€€€ on Yelp, but there wasn’t THAT much open after 11pm, whereas Minibar was open till 2am (but I think food ended at 12:30). It was close to walk to (this was true of basically everything in Lisbon) and there were plenty of seats, but the restaurant is connected to a theater so I’m sure it could get extremely packed.

Here’s what we ordered:
“Roasted chicken” with avocado cream, cottage cheese, piri piri and lemon 3,5€
Foie gras terrine with grapes and Port wine 6,9€
Tuna tartare temaki cone with spicy soy 7€
Beef tartare cone with mustard emulsion 6,8€
JAburger with PDO beef 6,8€
Veal rice with parmesan 9,5€

For drinks, I don’t remember what Robyn got, but I had ordered the Expressotini: Absolut Vodka, Expresso and Coffee Liqueur 7€. We didn’t order dessert but they gave us a free peanut thing … they were DELICIOUS. It looks like a plain old peanut but it was actually peanut ice cream. And I forgot what the squareish cakes were, but they were delightful. Also pictured is the burger and the veal rice (so sad that I ate the tartare cones before taking photos)

Upon ordering I told Robyn “this seems like super cheap and not at all a €€€€ restaurant, as Yelp claimed” and she said “I don’t think you realize how small the portions are.” And she was right. The “roasted chicken” meant a crisp of chicken skin with the aforementioned toppings artfully dashed on the top. My absolute favorite was the beef tartare, but we wouldn’t have been full without the veal rice. Honestly everything was incredible. But we made the mistake of ordering additional items because we were so delighted with what we had just eaten, when our original order was totally on point and would have been the perfect amount of food. Also, my drink was INSANELY good. I ordered it because I heard Portugal was a coffee society. I now feel like I will exclusively drink cocktails with coffee in it. SO GOOD!!!

Then we walked back home. The streets of Lisbon at night are quiet, but safe. The streets are super clean, cobbled, often hilly. The weather for our entire trip was perfect – often overcast but never raining and never too cold. Even at night, it would have been possible to walk around in just a long sleeve shirt. We were both thrilled to have been able to do something fun AND eat delicious food, even though we hadn’t left the airbnb until 11:30pm. GO US!!!

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Art in Dublin

Celebrity Faves of 2017

I cannot believe I have not done one of these lists since AUGUST 2015!!!

I used to think these lists were getting harder to make because I was no longer hip enough to know the latest celebrities, but now I don’t really think that’s true. Because I actually do watch a lot of tv and movies. The real reason is probably that celebrities are so much more accessible now through social media, and it’s become easier for me to realize “this celebrity is not everything I would have liked them to be…” I know, it is not right to hold anyone up to an impossible ideal. But this is a list of my FAVORITE CELEBRITIES! It’s not going anywhere meaningful. So in light of that, a little unrealistic expectation seems ok.

Then there’s celebrities that I’m like, ok I adore them, I think they’re great, I wish the best for them but I a) don’t follow their career or necessarily watch everything they’re in, b) can’t really comment on their personality because they’re so private or c) feel weird liking them because they’re married or have kids. Also, I refuse to put down celebrities that are WAY younger than me.

But really, the reason I have not been able to hit post on a list like this in a time like now is because I have listened to way too many podcasts and read too many articles that talk about race and media and society’s concepts of beauty and when I look at my compiled lists of favorite celebrities, I realize how unintentionally racist it is!

Regardless, I shall go forth:

1. Daisy Ridley
I adore her, find her very pretty with a charming personality, will actually watch films she’s in because she’s in them (murder on the orient express, star wars), will happily watch any youtube videos that come up of her, think she’s smart and well-spoken … so CLEAR WINNER here! The only downside is that she’s not on social media (though she ONCE WAS and I thought she was great at it). She left because of gun fanatic TROLLS!!! Somewhere out there I’m sure she has a private Instagram account but we shall never know the treasure within.

2. Emma Watson
She’s so private and I really have not watched anything she’s been in other than Harry Potter. But every time I see her, I’m like “sigh she’s so pretty.” And then she came out for Time’s Up! So I feel like that’s worth putting on the list. I think she manages her privacy well and knows when she wants to use her starpower and does so strategically. I put her in my stitchfix stylist note, where I wrote “I’d like to look like Emma Watson on a casual day, Malia Obama, and Olivia Pope.” Admittedly though, I have not yet watched Beauty and the Beast. Or The Bling Ring. Or the Perks of Being a Wallflower. HOWEVER, I DID thoroughly enjoy her cameo in This Is the End.

@booksonthesubway @booksontheunderground @oursharedshelf #Mom&Me&Mom

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3. Chrissy Teigen
Frances Lo gave me this celebrity crush and Frances knew about her YEARS before anyone was talking about her. So by proxy, I knew about and loved Chrissy Teigen well before the days when Buzzfeed would write an article about every tweet she posts. I would yell at people who would go “who the hell is this person on Lip Sync Battle.” The proper response is, SHE’S CHRISSY TEIGEN AND SHE HAS A GREAT TWITTER! She has never disappointed me.

stoop buddies!

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4. Tracee Ellis Ross
I think she’s the person I’d most want to be friends with. She has such a bright personality. And great fashion taste. And always a great interview with SO much energy. I recently saw a commercial of Girlfriends on CWTV.com and for a few seconds, I thought she had a new show out. She HAS NOT aged. I wish we could go on vacations together.

THE POWER OF WOMEN ~ a year ago today

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5. Issa Rae
Insecure is probably one of my favorite shows currently, and it’s how I was introduced to her. I find her hilarious and creative and A BOSS. She deserves MORE!!! I hope she writes another memoir one day though she has so much on her plate now. She has a beautiful glow about her, she is always dressed well, and I actually enjoy her InstaStories, even when they’re just her being drunk at parties. I also love how she seems so close to her fellow castmates. She is a Stanford alumnus and sometimes when I walk around campus I think, maybe she’s visiting and I’ll see her!!!

4. Jessica Rothe
I watched Tater Tot and Patton and thought she is an AMAZING actress, totally underrated and probably could’ve been today’s Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t know that much about her but I get the impression that she seems like she’d be a great interview. Watch Happy Death Day – she can easily do comedy, drama AND HORROR.

5. Yael Grobglas
I feel like the real testament to her acting ability is that she can play her twin sister on Jane the Virgin and it’s NOT annoying and surprisingly endearing. She has a GREAT instagram feed. I loved that she accompanied Gina Rodriguez to the Golden Globes though I wish she were in the position to go on her own invitation. Hopefully, one day!

 

No filter. My lips do this. New discovery.

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6. Gina Rodriguez
She’s very well spoken and I will always admire her for pulling off her amazing Golden Globes speech. She is the definition of charisma. And she’s clearly well prepared in everything she attaches her name to. ALSO I love her instagram posts of her boxing videos. They’re inspiring.

And it begins. Taken by my beautiful Petra @yaelgrobglas #jetra

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People I highly respect and find fascinating
– Rihanna
– Elaine Welteworth
– Mindy Kaling
– Lupita Nyong’o

Of course I like them – they’ve played gay or ARE gay!
– Kristen Stewart
– Cara Delevingne
– Gugu Mbatha-Raw
– Dominque Provost Chalkley
– Sarah Shahi
– Jordana Brewster

People who are married and I feel a bit weird thinking they’re so great (I don’t know why I didn’t include Chrissy Teigen in this category, I guess I adore her so much that she transcend this category):
– Jessica Chastain
– Emily Blunt
– Claire Foy
– Amy Adams
– Kelly Clarkson
– Gal Gadot
– Nicole Richie

People I don’t actively follow but whenever I see them in the news, I think “oh yeah, that person is great”:
– Carey Mulligan
– Tatiana Maslany
– Sarah Paulson
– Kate McKinnon
– Nina Dobrev
– Zendaya

People I’ve realized are amazing at interviews and seem like great personalities but otherwise, I don’t particularly follow their careers or social media accounts:
– Kirsten Dunst
– Kate Beckinsale
– Salma Hayek
– Aubrey Plaza

People whose social media accounts negated any adoration I previously held:
– Naya Rivera
– Shay Mitchell
– Anna Kendrick (I can’t stand anyone who praises Justin Timberlake. I don’t care if she was promoting Trolls with him)

And then for males, who I do not follow or find interesting but can generally find to be attractive:
– Zac Efron
– Matt Bomer
– Oscar Isaac
– Liam Hemsworth
– Jaime Camil