lisbon & sintra

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we took the train from porto to lisbon. the minute we stepped onto the platform in portugal’s capital city, i was enchanted! the colourful, tiled buildings peeking over the train station walls got me excited about lisbon in an instant. we walked through the incredibly cobbly and incredibly hilly streets to our airbnb, and i couldn’t stop stopping to snap photos of tiles and doors!
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as we climbed higher and higher with our kids and our suitcases (our aribnb was almost at the highest point in the city!), we saw some incredible golden hour views!
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and after we dropped our stuff off and headed out to find dinner, we happened upon an amazing viewpoint, where we watched the sun set over the ponte 25 de abril suspension bridge – which is a total doppelgänger of our beloved golden gate bridge!
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it was such a beautiful slice of time, the world around us glowing. we took the elevator (there are elevators all over the city to help pedestrians with all the steep hills!) down to the praça do comércio (big main square) and moses and gabriel were so excited that we got to go inside this big christmas tree of lights!
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the next morning we got to see the same view in the daylight. it’s actually kind of eerie how much libson is similar to san francisco! kind of fun to reminisce on our days in the bay (and my favourite city in the entire world). i also love the cristo rei statue you can see on the other side of the bridge – just cool to have an arms-outstretched jesus looking over the city!
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we took off that morning on a wiiiiild misadventure. we wanted to visit pena palace in the nearby city of portugal, and decided to rent a car so that ian could also get to the westernmost point in europe (he has a thing for extreme geographical points!). picking up the car turned into a bit of a fiasco that took way too long, and then as we finally got near the top of the windy mountain road to arrive at pena palace, we were directed away from the entrance by police, who told us that no private cars were allowed all the way up! so we had to go all the way down the mountain, and a few curves in gabriel barfed all over – ahhh! we decided to go to cabo da roca (the westernmost point) so we could get out and get cleaned up and run around a bit before figuring out how we’d get up to pena palace. when we got there, we realised there are shuttle buses that go from lisbon to both the palace and the westernmost point, so we didn’t need to rent the car (which had kept us from getting to the palace anyway!) at all – ugh! buuut – cabo da roca was gorgeous and the weather was amazing, so this cheered us up a bit!
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we got advice from some people at cabo da roca and found a place to park our car that was near a bus stop where we could catch a ride to the palace, but somehow we ended up on a bus that did a big loop around the entire city of sintra before dropping us at the bus stop for the bus that goes up the mountain. then, we were stuck on that super, super crowded bus for almost two hours as it picked up tourists from random places and waited for the other buses ahead of it to go and then wound up the mountain road. needless to say, we were pumped to finally be at the base of pena palace, like five hours after we had originally intended to arrive, haha! ian strapped gabriel into the carrier for a nap just as moses was begging to ride on his head on the last bit of the walk up the steep path to the palace. and then we learned that exploring pena palace is not a toddler-friendly attraction – there are stairs and steeep dropoffs with no guardrails everywhere! and it was mega crowded. but it was also pretty stinking incredible. i adore all the bright colours and it felt like such a fairytale!
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views from pena palace to the nearby moorish castle and out into the portuguese countryside!
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two pretty hilariously bad attempts at a family photo after gabriel woke up:
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seeing this model inside an exhibition room helped to to get a sense of the grandeur of the castle – without the crowds and the death grips on the children, ha!
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we ended the day with a stop at the beautiful belem tower, on the outskirts of lisbon and the opposite side of the golden-gate-esque bridge. another beautiful sunset – wish i could have captured it with the bridge (hands too full of small children…). then we went and got some famous pastel de natas and even found a playground for the kids to run around on before heading back to the airbnb for bed!
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the next morning the city was blanketed in fog as we set out to ride on one of lisbon’s iconic trolleys.
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mo was really into taking photos of our journey (i need to do another post with pictures that he took in porto and lisbon!):
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so many viewpoints in lisbon…
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and sooo much grafitti!
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we wandered around a few different neighbourhoods and loved taking in all the colours!
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we ate lunch at this amazing food market called time out market. we learned we aren’t huge fans of portuguese food (mostly because neither of us like seafood!) but it was so fun to see all the different dishes being sold and so many people enjoying their meals.
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more exploring around lisbon’s cool streets…
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moses was really into posing for pictures that afternoon (because i had some treats he wanted to be bribed by…haha). love this boy like crazy!
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gabriel woke from his buggy nap and begged to walk (he’s really into walking everywhere lately), and we found a playground!! (with a not-so-bad backdrop!)
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moses fell asleep during his turn in the buggy, and we found out (upon arriving there after climbing the steeeeep hills) that são jorge castle was closed on new years eve (bummer!). so we got some portuguese gelato (yum!) and caught one more sunset from the viewpoint by our airbnb.
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we fell asleep at 10pm on new years eve, exhausted from all our travel adventures with our boys. i set an alarm for 11:45 though so we could dash down the street to the viewpoint and catch some fireworks. ian was too groggy to get out of bed, and i really wanted to stay in bed with him, but i couldn’t get myself to miss fireworks at midnight on new years eve! so i watched them by myself (well, with a big crowd of very intoxicated strangers, haha). a new decade beginning – so exciting!

and early in the morning on new years day, we rolled through the very quiet streets of lisbon to get to the airport and fly home to london 🙂

it was a wild and wonderful trip to finish off 2019!

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