The first few days of the tour (Day 1 to 4) was all in Portugal. I flew in from Newark (Stopover) to Lisbon at around 9:30 am. My parents never had to stand in line for so long! lol. My parents took a different flight as I was coming from Washington DC. They were coming from Los Angeles. At first our flights were supposed to come around the same time at 5 minutes apart. However, because of a technical issue in Newark, my flight was delayed for an hour. My parent’s flight was on time.
Day 1: The Lisbon Airport immigration system is a bit SLOW. I don’t know how many flights came in that day but my parents got there around 8:30 am and when my flight landed, they were still in line. We were supposed to meet at arrivals after customs, but instead met at the immigration line. They waited 1 hour and 30 minutes and I waited for about 20 minutes just because I saw them in line. HAHA. Too bad that we still had to wait for the people in our group who also came with me on my flight. But better outside sitting then inside standing!
The city, Lisbon, is not far from the airport at all. It took about 15 minutes from the airport to our hotel, Hotel Roma. The hotel is situated about 15 minutes to “downtown” Lisbon. I would say that I would stay here again when I’m in Lisbon.
The hotel is not at all luxurious but decent. Meaning that it’s clean and not old and not too shabby. We got settled into the hotel around noon and was hungry. We were kind of lazy to search for food so we ate at the cafe downstairs. It was alright … not something I would recommend. The food didn’t take too long because we were the only guest dining in that establishment.
The hotel is close to many transportation systems especially the Metro and the Commuter Trains to Outside Lisbon. There’s a train station across the street. However, it doesn’t take you to Lisbon but to outside cities. Made a mistake of going there and purchasing a day pass. I would totally go outside Lisbon for a day and visit one of the outlying cities.
Take the Metro if you want to go into Lisbon. It has a big letter M and in RED and a couple blocks down. When you exit the hotel turn left and it’s on your right; the ROMA station.
The Metro is about 6 Euros for a day pass and you can take the Metro and the Carris (buses, trams, funiculars, and lifts) all day for 24 hours.
As it is the first day on tour, you can do whatever you please. They do have a get together on the first night for a short introduction etc. However, between when you get to that hotel to that intro you can explore Lisbon on your own.
Usually, the tour takes you to the major sites around town and only stop in major attractions. You may want to read the itinerary for Day 2 so you don’t go to the same places on Day 1. Also, if you want to check out a place more closely and you know they don’t stop there on Day 2, visit that place first. Something I really wished I did was check out Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos, Castelo de Sao Jorge, and Praca do Commercio. The tour pretty much pointed it out while touring Lisbon on Day 2 but didn’t stop there.
I do highly recommend taking Tram 28 or Electrico 28. From the Hotel Take Metro Line Verde and exit Martim Moniz. From Martim Moniz just go back and forth on this tram. This tram takes you all over Lisbon and it’s fun to sit and enjoy what Lisbon has to offer. The only downside is that it does get pretty full and getting on may take minutes to hours.
Then if you already got your Tram 28 fix. I’d stop at Baixa-Chiado and walk around the Bairro Alto area for some of it’s historical attractions such as the Santa Justa Lift, Rossio Square, and some Funiculars.
My parents and I only had time for Tram 28 since we went to Rossio Square first. Plus, we didn’t know where to go exactly. -_-‘ I think we took Tram 12 to somewhere and ended up taking Tram 28 to Martim Moniz. It was a mess!
We went back to the hotel for the short intro and then had dinner at Marisqueira Roma which was a short distance from the hotel and was highly recommended by the Tour leader. I recommend this place too if you’re close or stay at Hotel Roma.
The food in Portugal is very common almost EVERYWHERE. I don’t know how much fish, potatoes, octopus, potatoes, potatoes, and potatoes I can handle. This is the same for Spain too.
Day 2: Our day started with breakfast at the hotel and a guided sightseeing tour of Lisbon, which included almost everything in the Bairro Alto area with a stop at the Cathedral La Se’ where St. Anthony was baptized.
The tour then continued on to the Belem Tower with a stop for pictures and bathroom break of 15 minutes.
After that we went to Mosterio Dos Jeronimos. Unfortunately with a tour, they kind of based it off of some free attractions. This place has a monastery that has a cloister that that looks like Hogwarts and a church. Since the church is free and the monastery isn’t, we went to the church only.
Then we were given an hour for lunch. Around the monastery there are small shops and restaurants, a McDonalds and a Starbucks. One of the most famous type of pastry to eat in Portugal is the Pastel de Nata; a Portuguese egg tart. This pastry is a must get when you’re in Portugal and you have to get it from Pasteis de Belem. This was the only place I got with the cinnamon and powdered sugar icing. They do have other baked goods as well. I don’t remember which one I got but I think it was Samosa, Empanadas and Croquettes. I would look at the menu but I ordered in English and the menu is in Portuguese; so am not sure what the names are. These baked goods were recommended by my tour leader.
I would say Lisbon is almost exactly like San Francisco. Lots of hills, trolleys, and they even have a Golden Gate Bridge for crying out loud. I would totally go back and stay there for 3 full days just to check out the sites slowly and not being in a rush.
Our tour then continued to Santarem to the Church of the Eucharistic Holy Miracle then off to Fatima.
Day 3: Please see more here about Fatima.
One of the optional excursions was to go to the Convent of Christ in Tomar, Portugal. We went mainly because we didn’t know what else to do in Fatima and it’s something to see. For some reason, I just like cloisters and Gothic style churches. If you like history, then I would recommend going.
Day 4: From Fatima, we went to Braga, known as the one of the oldest Christian cities in the world. In Braga, we visited the Bom Jesus Do Monte Sanctuary. It’s basically this church on a mountain and has zigzag stairway that is dedicated to the five senses. The view of Braga is AH-MAZING. However, the inside of the church gives me the creeps. I had fun going down the Funicular though!
Off to Spain!