This winter, I traveled abroad for a couple of weeks with my parents & my brother, Sammy. We vacationed in Portugal and Morocco to celebrate my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary.
We spent the first few days touring around Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. We stayed at the InterContinental, which was just a quick Uber ride from the center of the city. Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe, however its architecture is surprisingly modern. This modernism is the result of a devastating earthquake in 1755 that all but destroyed the city. The second half of the eighteenth century saw a total rebuild in Lisbon, and it was during this time that some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the Praça do Comércio, were constructed. Some dated buildings did survive the earthquake, like the Belem Tower (built in 1514) and Sao Jorge Castle (built in the mid 11th century), making Lisbon itself a museum of architectural history.
Praça Marquês de Pombal in the heart of Lisbon
The culture of Lisbon is unique, and its status as a neutral city during World War II made it a haven for people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. Today it is one of the most liberal cities in Europe. It’s also much more affordable than other Western European destinations, which explains the recent boom in tourism it has experienced.
Lisbon is home to some of the most magnificent sunsets I’ve ever seen. The Santa Justa Lift is an outdoor elevator in the middle of the city that was constructed to ease transportation between lower and higher elevated areas of Lisbon. We didn’t actually take the elevator because the line was so long, but we walked to the top to see the stunning views.
Compared to other major cities in Europe, Lisbon is small. But my family always finds the best way to see a city is by bike! We took a bike tour around Lisbon, which was a lovely way to get some exercise, learn from the locals, and explore the city’s hidden neighborhoods!
Our tour leader showing us a bottle of Ginjinha, a liqueur made of ginja berries that is famous in portugal! We all took shots as a group after this photo was taken.
It's always a fashion show with the Applebaums!
In the middle of our bike tour, we stopped at a cafe to try pastel de nata, a signature dessert of Lison.
The Belem Tower, one of Lisbon's most famous buildings.
After our bike tour, we took a hike to São Jorge Castle, a historic fortress that watches over the city of Lisbon, and an amazing spot for photos!
My parents are so cute, I can't.
And of course no city can fully be explored without enjoying the cuisine! These were my two favorite dinners in Lisbon. The first is a pasta dish with fresh mushrooms and cheese on top of prosciutto. The second, octopus!
We also ventured outside of Lisbon to a nearby town called Sintra. Sintra is almost strictly a tourist attraction; it's an hour train ride from Portugal's capital city and is home to beautifully colored castles. Most buildings in this town date back to the 1800s, and it is a visual masterpiece!
I was looking forward to visiting Sintra for many reasons, but I was specifically excited to wear this outfit that so perfectly coordinated with the vivid colors of Pena National Palace...
Unfortunately, an unexpected rain storm not only kept us from taking in the full beauty of Sintra, but also wrecked my outfit. You win some you lose some.
We took shelter from the storm inside the Pena Palace, which was full of an ornate mix of decor. It reminded me of touring the Palace of Versailles in France, yet a bit less regal and more crafty!
I'm obsessed with this chandelier!
If you know me, you know this is my DREAM lunch!
And THIS is my dream dinner!
We found a cute spot in Sintra to satisfy our Ginja craving... nothing says vacation like throwing back a couple of shots with the fam! At this particular place, they serve ginja in edible shot glasses made of dark and white chocolate.
Lisbon was without a doubt one of my favorite destinations I've ever had the pleasure of exploring. It had all the comforts of a modern European city with a dash of historic beauty! And the people were unbelievably kind and welcoming.
We continued our vacation in Fez, Morocco, which I will detail in a separate post! Until then...