Visiting Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

When we visited Lisbon, our hostel proposed to go to Sintra. We had no idea it was so close to Lisbon. We hopped on the train since we had no car. The ride took about 45 minutes. Also, the train ticket was only 4,50 euros. So it’s very cheap to go and so worth it! We only had a day, but we easily could have stayed a day longer.
When you arrive at Sintra station, you can walk towards the centre. It’s not that far, just a bit uphill. There is also a bus stop next to the station if you want to go straight to one of the castles. I recommend taking the bus and not one of the hundreds of tuk-tuks as they’re more expensive.

Pena Palace
Pena Palace is the main attraction in Sintra. You can’t miss out on this one! It’s a stunning castle full of colours. It’s very fairytale-alike. Or in more contemporary terms, “This place is an Instagrammer’s heaven.” We went as early as we could to avoid the crowds. It’s the one stop everyone takes. So I suggest to go early or just before closing time. We decided to go inside the palace too. Even though we only had one day. There is a lot to see! We walked around for 2-3 hours. Then we walked all the way around the exterior and followed all the little paths. Of course, we got lost on the grounds surrounding the palace. We discovered a lot of beautiful things here with no other tourists around. So my advice would be: please do get lost here.

Me blocking the amazing view
Me blocking a sneak peek of the interior

After visiting the city centre and Pena Palace, and getting lost around Pena Palace, we didn’t have any time left to visit other castles. We hoped to have more time to visit other castles too. We also wanted to visit the Castelo dos Mouros and the Quinta da Regaleira. But I guess we’ll have to come back another time!

Me somewhere lost on the grounds of Pena Palace

Things to do and see in Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon was my first introduction to Portugal. I liked it so much I returned after six months. Lisbon is a cosy city with many stunning quarters and many colossal monuments to see.

Castelo de Sao Jorge
Let’s start with one of the seven hills of Lisbon. One of these hills you can find the Castelo de Sao Jorge. The castle offers an unforgettable view of Alfama, the lower city and the Tagus. This is already a reason to go there. In addition to the view, you’ll learn a lot about the city and its history. The first thing you see as you walk into the park is the panoramic viewpoint. Go for a picture while you’re here. As you walk further, you can enter the castle. Go up the stairs to walk on the walls. But watch out where you walk because the stairs are pretty slippy. Search for the Torre de Ulisses while you’re on the walls. In this tower, you can find de only periscope of the whole country. With this, you can look around the entire city.

Castelo de Sao Jorge

Alfama
The Moorish quarter Alfama is the soul of the fado. Fado is traditional Portuguese music. Some locals will tell you it’s more than just music. They’ll tell you it’s a sense of life. Alfama consists of a colourful maze of alleys. Go for dinner in one of the many fado restaurants. Or listen to how the fado music fills the night. Who rather wanders around in the neighbourhood will encounter some monuments. I call them sacred secrets. Alfama has some beautiful churches that are a bit hidden. Did you get the joke?

Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto is best described as the rhythm of the night. The partying continues here till the sun rises again. The many restaurants and bars have a lively but relaxed atmosphere. In the evening, they close the area for cars. Therefore people often hang out outside on warm summer nights. From Wednesdays to Saturdays there is the most to experience in Bairro Alto. And the evening starts only after midnight.

Tram 28
Tram 28 is iconic in Lisbon. The old eléctrico rattles slowly through the historic districts of the city. I know that this tram is very touristy. But without this highlight, your trip to Lisbon wouldn’t be complete. Go as early as possible so you can sit by a window. This attraction attracts a lot of tourists which catches the eye of pickpocketers. The only advice I can give you is: be careful and use your common sense. Don’t let this stop you because the ride is a lot of fun.

Tram 28
Elevador de Santa Justa

Baixa & Chiado
The Praça do Comércio is an ideal starting point for a walk through the Baixa. The square has an amazing view of the Tagus. Thanks to this view it’s one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. On the north side is a triumphal arch. For 2,5 euros a lift takes you to the viewing platform. If you walk through the arch you’ve reached the shopping streets. After the necessary shopping walk to the Elevador de Santa Justa. Go to the top and take a look at the busy centre of Lisbon beneath you. But only if you have no fear of heights. Next to the exit of the Elevador is the Carmo church situated. This church doesn’t have a roof. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and was never built again. You’re now in the Chiado quarter. This area has lots of delicious restaurants. And you’ll find the best Pastéis de Nada here at Manteigaria.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Belém
Belém was one of my favourite areas. Belém is found a little outside of Lisbon, but it’s easily accessible. Just hop on the train to Belém in Cais de Sodre. The journey takes just under 10 minutes. As you leave the station walk towards the water. You can walk towards all the different monuments via the dyke which is much more pleasant than along the busy road. The first monument you’ll see is Padrão dos Descobrimentos. This monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery. Take a quick look at the ground you’ll find a huge mosaic of a world map. On the other side, you can spot Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. This monastery is breathtaking. It’s absolutely worth a visit. If you walk a bit further, you’ll get to Torre de Belém. The tower has some amazing viewpoints on the Tagus and the Ponte 25 de Abril. In addition to the monuments, Belém has a few awesome museums. My favourite is the Berardo Collection Museum as I’m a fan of modern and contemporary art.

Torre de Belém

One day in Verona, Italy

Verona is well-known over the whole world. The city has Shakespeare to thank for that. I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet. And yes, the city is truly as lovely as the story goes. Only nowadays, Verona is a little more touristy. Nonetheless, it’s one of my favourite cities in Italy!
We visited Verona as a day trip, so we mainly had to limit ourselves to the tourist highlights. Luckily, we had just enough time to explore some of the little streets in the inner city too.

This is also Verona.

Arena di Verona
The Arena di Verona is one of the monuments you can’t walk by without seeing it. It’s huge! The Arena is located on the Piazza Bra. It’s the biggest square in Verona. It has several beautiful buildings with little cafés and restaurants. The square is also the ‘storage room’ of the Arena. When we visited the Arena was packed with pieces of an Egyptian opera. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to catch a performance. But I encourage you to go anyway! I read a lot of positive comments. The Arena di Verona alone is worth the effort.

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Juliet’s House

Casa di Giulietta
Casa di Giulietta, or Juliet’s House, is a fun monument. But be ready to crash into hoards of tourists! It’s the busiest place of Verona, although it’s a tiny courtyard. Don’t let the movie ‘Letters by Juliet’ foul you. You can leave a romantic note on designated walls. You can also enter the museum in Juliet’s house. I think the entrance fee was about 6 euros. The courtyard is free. If you enter the museum, you’ll get the chance to stand on Juliet’s balcony!

Via Mazzini
Shopping, shopping and even more shopping! Verona is heaven on earth for shopaholics! The Via Mazzini is the place to be. But don’t forget to stroll through the little streets around Verona’s shopping street. You’ll find even more shops and boutiques. You’ll find everything you’re looking for! Clothes, shoes, souvenirs… they have it all. You’ll be able to spot H&M and Zara, but also more luxurious fashion house like Armani and Gucci.

Via Mazzini
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Piazza del Erbe

Piazza del Erbe
Piazza del Erbe is another famous square in Verona. It is characterized by the unique architecture of the buildings around the Piazza. The square is easy to find, even for pedestrians. Just look for the top of the Torre del Lamberti. You’ll immediately know which direction you have to go. If you’re looking for souvenirs, look no further! Walk to the market stalls on the Piazza del Erbe. They sell every souvenir you can think off. And they’re gathered in one place. Handy, right?

Other monuments
Walk via Piazza Dei Signori towards the Scaliger tombs. The monument consists of 5 gothic towers. They celebrate the Scaliger family who ruled in Verona from the 13th to the late 14th century. Starting here, you can start looking for Romeo’s home. You won’t find much, only a door. But the search is a fun way to start discovering the small alleys of Verona. Don’t forget the bring a scarf or a jacket. You have to cover your shoulders when visiting churches.

Scaliger Tombs
Piazza Dei Signori

Top things to do and see around Lake Garda

Lake Garda is one of the most famous Italian lakes. And I can assure you it’s for a reason! Lake Garda is stunning! On top of that, you’ll never be bored here! There are so many activities to do and so many towns to visit. I’ve been here several times and I’m still deeply in love with this Lago. These are a few gems you just can’t miss when travelling to Lake Garda!

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Sirmione
Sirmione is located on a headland on the south side of Lake Garda. It’s one of my favourite towns around Lake Garda. I love to wander around the city centre without necessarily visiting something. Sirmione is perfect for this! The houses are typically Italian. And you won’t see any cars in the city centre, which makes it even more enjoyable to wander around. If you do want to visit some monuments, you have a few choices. As you’re entering the city centre, you’ll walk through the first monument. Rocca Scaligera is a castle from the 13th century and is also the entry gate to the city centre. Furthermore, you can visit several beautiful churches and the Grottoes of Catullus. The latter you might know from the movie “Call Me by Your Name”. Sirmione can be very busy because of tourism, but it’s still worth a visit.

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Desenzano
Desenzano is situated next to Sirmione. It gets a little less tourism than Sirmione, except for Tuesdays. Every Tuesday there is a market. Maybe you’re wondering “What’s so special about this market?” Well, it’s the biggest market of Lake Garda. You can not only buy food; but also clothing, accessories, souvenirs and much more. One thing that makes it even better is the fact that you’ll find yourself among the locals. Furthermore, Desenzano has a lot of charming restaurants with the best food. Look for a restaurant named Kapperi. You might want to use Google Maps. Kapperi is truly a hidden gem.

Peschiera del Garda
Peschiera has it all: the scenic lake, the cosy centre, the little shops and the delicious restaurants. And let’s not forget the gelato. We visited Peschiera twice, both times in the evening. The shops stay open until very late. So you can spend a full day swimming in the lake and still have plenty of time to shop. After shopping, walk to the Viale Cordigero. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Peschiera with countless terraces where you can enjoy a typical Italian dinner! After dinner, you should get some gelato and take a stroll around the town. If you’re looking for the best gelato, simply follow the locals.

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Limone Sul Garda
The drive from Sirmione to Limone alone is breathtaking. While you’re driving through the mountains and the little villages, you’ll get a wondrous view of Lake Garda. Limone is one of these picturesque villages you pass by. The centre can get quite busy during peak season, so I would recommend going early. Limone is also a little more expensive because of tourism. Overlooking these two small side notes, Limone is beautiful. Go for a stroll through the cultural centre or the harbour. There is also the possibility to catch a ferry to the other side of Lake Garda. If you have the time, it’s a fun and unique way to travel around Lake Garda.

Gardaland
Gardaland is a popular theme park near Peschiera del Garda. This theme park is suitable for the whole family. There are exciting rollercoasters for the daring among us. There is also Fantasy Kingdom for the little ones. And, of course, there are also a few water attractions if it gets too hot during the day. In other words, there is something for everyone! In the summer it can get pretty busy with long queues as a result. Luckily, the park stays open till 11 PM. So no need to panic! You’ll be able to go on all the rides. Small tip, bring your own food if possible. The food in the park is expensive and not so tasty.

Introduction

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Barcelona, July 2019

Hi there!

Let me introduce myself! My name is Falke. I’m a 21 years young student living in Ghent, Belgium. I love travelling, wandering through little streets and discovering new things. I have visited 20 countries so far! You might say I’m a little addicted…
As the saying goes ‘sharing is caring’, I decided to start this blog. I’ve mostly travelled in Europe, but there is so much more on my list! And so much more coming!
Thank you for joining me on this epic adventure!