Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Portugal Details: Lisbon, Coimbra & Porto
(Sorry for the delay in posting our trip details!) J and I spent little time planning ahead for our trip in Portugal and other than reservations for our first two nights in Lisbon, our itinerary was up in the air before we arrived. As it was the off season this worked wonderfully--we added an extra night to our stay in Lisbon without difficulty and arrived in Coimbra and Porto without reservations anywhere.
We used the Rough Guide to Portugal, which gave great lodging advice yet fairly unhelpful transport and sight-seeing advice. It was often out of date or unclear. We found the Portuguese tourist offices useful, as well as the Comboios de Portugal (train) website. As far as restaurants, in my last post I mentioned David Lebovitz's Lisbon report, but we mainly took advice from our hosts and wandered the streets 'til we found a bustling spot. In general, every cafe or bar we popped into for a coffee or a glass of vino verde delighted us to no end--low prices, interesting characters, friendly faces.
FOOD FAVORITES AND LODGING GUIDE
Trav da Queimada 37
213 427 959
Traditional Portuguese food perfectly excecuted in a lively, crowded setting. Arrive early for a table.
Adega Santo Antao
Rua das Portas de Santo Antao 42
Rustic spot with the best roast pork and potatoes of the trip. Cheap wine and many old men sitting alone tucking into a bowl of pork and clams.
Pr da Figueira 18
213 424 470
Where we at our first nata (traditional breakfast pastry). Beautiful interior. More expensive than the nearby non-descript local cafes.
Pensao Ninho das Aguias
Costa do Castelo 74
This small pension is situated on a cozy street in the Alfama neighborhood. Beautiful views of the city and comfortable rooms. Close to the Castelo de Mouros and a short (albeit steep) walk from Praca da Figuiera. In-room bath costs a bit more. No breakfast. We called from the U.S. to reserve ahead of time.
Jardim da Manga
Rua Olimpo Nicolau Rui Fernandes
239 829 156
A self-service restaurant featuring Portuguese dishes. It's sort-of like a cafeteria but much classier with friendly service people--for example, you order espresso at a separate counter and it's expertly pulled, delivered to your table. Students watch soccer on TV in the corner. Open on Sundays, when many other spots are not.
Rua do Corpo de Deus, Largo da Vitoria
The spot to see fado in Coimbra. This club is housed in a former chapel and the acoustics are lovely. Drinks and snacks available.
Rua dos Flores 18
A Dutch-run pension in the old town section of Coimbra. Small but comfortable rooms. We chose the shared-bath option, though we were the only guests for the night. Also, we had a sink in our room. The proprietor was very friendly and gave us good advice for exploring and eating. Excellent, large breakfast.
Cais da Ribeira 13-15
Expensive contemporary restaurant serving traditional Portuguese dishes with a modern twist. Had the best octopus of my life here--so fresh and tender, in a limey, piquant marinade. Bustling room overlooking the Douro with a mix of Portuguese and European tourists.
Rua de Sao Joao 46
936 057 340
Excellent port tasting bar featuring small, independent producers. Cozy wood interior and friendly, knowledgeable staff. You can buy port to take home as well.
Grande Hotel de Paris
Rua da Fabrica 27-29
A grand but charmingly shabby hotel. The first TV of the trip. Bathroom included, as well as a fantastic breakfast, with pastries of all stripes. A five minute walk from the main train station and a pleasant stroll or quick cab ride from the historic waterfront.