First things first- getting my pack in order for the Camino. The first photo shows the contents of my pack (=everything I will have to live in/with for the next month or so) based on a lot of great advice I found in blogs from other women who have done the Camino before. For anyone looking to do the Camino, I’ll report back at the end if I packed well, missed any key items, or had things I could live without. And I’ll include a specific list. For now, the photo will do.
I waited a bit long to buy my flight to Lisboa from Madrid, so had to pay $166 one-way (expensive for a short EU flight). But had a fantastic experience on AirEuropa and will definitely fly with them again. First, the price included one checked bag, which is not common for many European airlines. Second, process of checking in was super easy. Finally, so much room on board. I totally lucked out and had to seeds in an exit row to myself, way more space than I needed. And non-exit rows had generous leg room too. Highly recommend this airline.
Upon arriving in Lisboa, I checked into my hostel (Good Morning Hostel, rated one of the top medium sized hostels in the world! about 35€ night for a bed in a shared room with 6 beds, and the most incredible breakfast included) and headed out to explore the city. After mostly flat cities Lisboa was quite a change! So many hills! Got in quite a workout walking around.
Before I write anything more… HAPPY PRIDE! Love is love is love…
I had a blast in this city and am especially fond of the people I met. Not traveling as a student on a super tight budget is fantastic, but sometimes you just want to be social and meet like-minded travelers from around the world. And hey, saving money when you plan to travel for as long as me is necessary. Hostels are a great option (every now and then)! For Lisboa, I stayed at Good Morning Hostel, one of the top rated in the city (and across the world for its size), at a cost of 73€ for 2 nights in a shared (6 bed) room. Upsides of a hostel: socializing, this place had a killer free breakfast, and cheaper than staying in a hotel. Downsides: sometimes your luck runs out and as Christian (“roommate” for 2 nights) and I learned our 2nd night, you can end up with a room full of people (in this case, all girls!) who are the worst and make it almost impossible to sleep. But back to the positive: the staff here are incredible and I met many lovely people who I will certainly stay in touch with, including Dayeon from South Korea, cousins Mercedes and Ashlee from San Francisco Bay Area (MerAsh as I nickname them below), and Christian, mentioned above (handsome doctor from South Africa). Sorry ladies (and boys), no photos of Christian this trip but be on the lookout when I visit Capetown in the future! The beautiful ladies are in my photos below. I think I can divide Lisboa into 3 categories, to make it a bit easier to organize photos (by day doesn’t make sense here)…
1. Art & Art-On-Architecture. Home to some awesome street art! Best I’ve seen in Europe since Málaga. And the tile work on so many buildings absolutely took my breath away ❤️
2. Food & Friends! As a vegetarian (turned back into pescatarian for this trip, due to lack of options), Portugal hands down beats Spain! Don’t get me wrong, the Portuguese LOVE meat and much of their cuisine is based on it. BUT they also like non-fried veggies! So many more options. And as someone who isn’t typically huge on custard/creme brûlée desserts… Pastel de Nata (from the right place!) ROCKS MY WORLD. AshMer agreed too! Photo below of where you MUST go when in Lisboa to try this.
3. Stunning Scenery/City Scapes. And I didn’t even make it across the river to Jesús Hill, to Belem, or to the historical ruins in Sintra!
Former capitol of Portugal in the 12th and 13th centuries, and also home to the oldest operating university in the Portuguese speaking world. This is a charming college town (population 150,000 or so) FULL OF STAIRS! Sweet baby Jesus. Lisboa had crazy hills too but I had no idea. I easily walked up/down at least 1,000 stairs in the first couple hours I was in the city. After a sleepless night in my last night in Lisboa, I was so glad that I booked a private room (with private bathroom, for only 23€/night!) in Coimbra: BE Coimbra. While there is a large common room, people don’t seem to socialize in the hostels here (anywhere in the city). They operate much more like hotels. So not great for getting to know people, but wonderful for quiet. There are quite a few vegetarian (and even vegan!) restaurants here, and plenty of vegetarian options at other restaurants. I haven’t had any food worth bragging about, but thrilled to have options. I also checked out a free concert at Cafe Santa Cruz and if you’re visiting when these concerts are going on, it’s definitely worth a visit (6 & 10pm, nightly)! I don’t have nearly as many photos of Coimbra; not because it’s lacking in history, beauty, or charm, but because I’m feeling a bit of city-fatigue. After 27 days in cities, I am VERY ready for a change of pace, so kept my phone in my bag most of the time I was in Coimbra.
A few photos of my final night in Coimbra because churches at night are always gorgeous. And because I had a phenomenal meal that makes this restaurant worthy of a recommendation: Notes Bar & Kitchen. I chose it because reviews mentioned they had great options for vegetarians. Wrong! I realized as soon as I arrived my choices would either be meat or seafood, unless I want to dinner to be a cheese plate. For the first time in one month, I actually felt like eating seafood was worth it! Dinner was amazing, and one of the servers must have been a sommelier based on his knowledge of wine, and the time he took describing each bottle/glass/grape/region to me. So if you eat meat or seafood, a trip to Notes is definitely worth it 🙌
Next up: Camino De Santiago!