Ok, I’m the first to admit it. I’ve been super spoiled. I’ve traveled everywhere and there’s not a day that I don’t reminisce and recognize how lucky I am. Here are some of the most amazing places I’ve visited:
Top 10 Most Amazing Places: #6 Portugal
I went here with my brother and parents about 6 years ago. I had made plans to live in Mozambique for the year (a former Portugal colony) and we thought it would be cool to hear some Portuguese and visit a country that I rarely hear about. Originally we were supposed to travel all around Portugal and Spain, but my brother got sick so we had to limit ourselves to a hundred mile radius of Lisbon.
One of the coolest things about Lisbon in the winter is that it’s foggy until about 1pm, so it felt like we were in a haunted dream scape every morning. I kept expecting to see Macbeth with his skull lurking around each corner.
Another cool thing, they have the world’s largest fake tree in the city center. You can always see it peeking up above the fog. Oh wait! There’s a third cool thing: there’s amazing graffiti everywhere. We even found a tag that looked like my brother!
The seafood was incredible in Lisbon and I highly suggest eating in the old city in a tiny cafe with tables out on the stone stairs. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant but if you’re ever in Lisbon just follow the sent of amazing food and you’ll find it. We ate there three nights in a row and were never disappointed. If you don’t want to go all the way to Lisbon you can try out the restaurant my sister manages! Aldea is an amazing Michelin star, nouveau-Portuguese restaurant in the flatiron distract of Manhattan. I just ate there the other night and was blown away by the creativity and flavors of each dish. This is a restaurant for true food enthusiasts.
Anyways, back to Portugal. Since we had to come up with a new itinerary, each of us took turns reading the guide book and planing a day trip. I think my trip won. And I’m only saying this because when we got off the bus in Sintra my parents looked at me like I was crazy for taking them to a deserted village. But as soon as we walked through the gates a fairytale land opened up before our eyes. Booyah!
Back in college I took a history of architecture class, and I never get to use this vocabulary in every day conversation so please indulge me for a moment. Sintra’s castles seamlessly blend Romanesque and Gothic architecture with hints of Arabic pattern and design. Sinuous columns detailed with delicate stone tracery gave the castles a weightless, ethereal quality, which was only heighten by dark, lush forest and mountains in the distance. The pastel hues of ancient homes made where straight out of a children’s book. If Beauty and the Beast were to take place anywhere it would be Sintra.
We spent most of the day in the Quinta da Regaleira. This castle is surrounded by the most amazing gardens, grottoes and waterfalls. We walked along a stone path (through a lake), behind a waterfall, through a tunnel, and then looked up and realized we were inside a stone well. Fortunately it had dried out years ago. All you could hear was the trickle of water and the buzz of a hummingbird. It was truly magical.
And as if that weren’t enough, there were peacocks walking around! It’s like they asked a little girl what she would want her fairy kingdom to look like and then they made Sintra based off her every whim. Oh and I mustn’t forget, there were also horse drawn carriages, and ancient Greek ruins. No wonder Sintra was named a Unesco Wolrd Heritage site. When in doubt, always visit the Unesco sites!