By Shereen Shabnam
When I look back at my time in Portugal, what comes to mind is the medieval castles, palaces, hilltop castles, picturesque cobblestone villages, bustling towns and great food.
My favourite time was sitting in the open-air cafes, watching the locals while enjoying freshly baked bread, delicious fried sardines served with sauces of your choice, olives, a wide variety of cheeses and the best potato dishes that I have never been able to emulate in my kitchen. If you like desserts as much as I do, indulge in an egg custard tart from the many cafes around the city.
As a foodie, I found the Mercado da Ribeira a haven, in particular the local produce in the food hall with a wide variety of cuisine to suit different tastes.
Portugal is idyllic and has a bountiful coastline, fertile countryside, scenic vineyards and some of the best markets to wander through. I was lucky enough to venture outside the city in search of ceramics one year and loved the true beauty of Portugal.
The country has biking and hiking trails with pristine scenery, olive trees, all the beautiful colours of nature, historic villages, riverside cafes, beaches with calm blue seas, boating, surfing and kayaking areas along the meandering Rio Guadiana, country fairs and music fests all along the coast.
In Lisbon, I recommend taking the vintage retro streetcars to explore the city’s narrow streets and normally unseen streets. Take the historic Alfama tour which takes you through Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood. There are walking tours, rail tours and private day trips offered by local agents who know the city best.
The museums and Aquarium tours and the Tagus River sunset cruise leaves you with a really great feeling afterwards and the cruise is one of the most relaxing activities you can do in Portugal.
I flew to Lisbon with Emirates and stayed in the town square which was a perfect place to wander around in the evenings.
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