Tomar, Obidos & A Tour of Belem: A Week In Portugal V.3

Colorful alley and plentiful flowers in Obidos

Excited to have the medieval towns of Tomar and Obidos on the docket, as well as a whole day touring the Lisbon neighborhood of Belem! Finally discovered that the coffee station I found was there every morning before breakfast, which is better than nothing at all. At the very least, I’ve stopped being a raving lunatic before 7 a.m.

It may have been this morning that I also discovered how to access the hotel terrace where I could have my coffee and smokes, instead of standing out front of the hotel in my PJs, holding everything ever so carefully so not to drop anything (room key, phone, coffee, cigarettes, lighter, etc.) I can just set up shop on the terrace in my PJs now. I have no shame whatsoever. I’m on vacation, and I just want to be comfortable.


Portugal’s Myriad Of Medieval Towns

Today’s tour wasn’t bad. Our tour guide talked forever and ever and ever. He was really nice and all. It’s clear his business meant a lot to him, as did the happiness of his customers. He said he didn’t want us to be bored. So… talking for eight hours straight, I guess.

A Castle, A Convent & A Picturesque Bridge In Tomar

First stop—Tomar. Tomar has a lovely little monastery and a picturesque little medieval bridge. We had to stand in line for a bit to get into the monastery and I’ve learned that the Portuguese just might be the slowest ticket takers ever known to man. There were not a lot of people in line at all, but we had to have been there for a half hour.

The monastery was nice to walk through, and I’ll learn that there are a bagillion monasteries in Portugal. The bridge wasn’t exactly what I’d expected from the photos, but I tried to get some nice photos out of it. As soon as I got back in the car, I Googled it to be sure it was the same bridge and it was. It’s just that… everyone else took their photos from the opposite side. Merrr. What can you do? Lost opportunity.

Batalha’s Jaw-Dropping Cathedral

Next stop was Batalha, which featured a ridiculously amazing cathedral (or monastery). It’s design was so incredibly intricate, it was breathtaking, and we were told it took over 300 years to finish building it. Some stops for war in there.

The photos don’t much show it, but the stone actually has a light pink or coral hue on the outside. The inside was completely different. Super understated design, but very pretty. I’d’ve guessed the interior to be as ornate as the exterior, but no. Not even a little bit. 

A Seriously Traditional Portuguese Lunch

Our guide asked us if we wanted a quick lunch or a traditional Portuguese lunch and we opted for traditional. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It was really, really good, but was literally five courses.

There was a massive spread of starters, and we could have as much as we wanted. The spread included different types of chorizo from all over Portugal. There was also a massive spread of cheese and jams from all over. I tried a few of these (and the chorizo, of course).

Next up was the main and you could choose from a few dishes there as well—fish or beef, rice or potatoes. Then came a fruit spread, which was insanely fresh. And an iced gelato of some kind. Then a basket of nuts. No, seriously. Like… wut. Then dessert. So full. I don’t think other patrons realized how crazy it was either. Great experience, though. Loved it.

The Surfing Town Of Nazare & The Rainbow Town Of Obidos

Stopped off at a fishing village with a nice overlook onto the beach—Nazare. Not much to say about this. It was quaint, but there wasn’t really much there otherwise. 

Viewpoint of the aqua surfing waters of Nazare, Portugal

Our final stop was Obidos, which I’d been looking forward to. There’s a castle and a monastery, but surrounding it is a little village with white houses and brightly-colored trim. Unfortunately, the main drag was filled with tourists and little shops, but just one road over, you got the same little houses minus the crowds. My dad didn’t care for Obidos, but I thought it was a great spot. At least for photos. 

This was where I was climbing the castle stairs, which had no handrails, and almost fell. The funny thing about this is that I was walking around with my camera on my neck, lens cap off, and randomly thought of the AP4L who’s always telling me to put the lens cap back on. So I did. For once.

I just constantly take pictures, so putting it on and off and on and off just gets… inefficient. But I did. I put the damn thing back on. When I lost my footing on an uneven stair, I grabbed the castle wall for dear life and, in the process, scratched the living hell out of my lens cap. So… I guess I’m glad it wasn’t my lens. There might be some value in putting the lens cap back on. Maybe.

Another Day On The Books. Tomorrow: Belem!

It was an hour or an hour and a half drive back to Lisbon and the. entire. time. our guide was talking. It was mostly fine since I just stared out the window, but good lord, it’s a special skill. 

Stayed in this evening and ordered room service. Long day. It ended up being the most disappointing room service ever. Truly. I guess the guy taking the order laughed at my dad and corrected him when he said “cafe con latte,” instead of “leite.” And, when it arrived, it was just so sad.

My dad got caprese again, but it was four slices of tomatoes with mozza. I got a ham and cheese sandwich and it was the most basic sandwich ever when it arrived. Not toasted, no dressing, nothing. But it had the crusts cut off. Details! Tomorrow, we’ll be tackling Lisbon’s funky little neighborhood of Belem.

All Around Town

Looking forward to today. Another deep dive in Lisbon, out towards Belem. Suffice to say, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and was total pissy pants for most of the day. I feel bad in retrospect, but… what can you do?

The Incredible Pasteis de Belem & Jeronimos Monastery

We Ubered out to Pasteis de Belem, which is thee place for the famous Lisbon egg custard tarts, pasteis de nata. I wanted to get there before the crowds and time it so the Jeronimos Monastery was opening just as we were finishing up.

There was no line for take-out, but a massive line to get a seat, so we decided to order take-out and sit in the park across the street. These pastries were supposedly invented and created by the monastery monks and are a secret recipe. You add powdered sugar and a little cinnamon and enjoy the deliciousness. They were pretty exceptional. Pasteis de Belem = a must. try.

Jeronimos Monastery opened and I’m glad we got there when we did because the lines were brutal. It was a super pretty monastery and all the locals have said we must go, but I’d seen so many monasteries at this point…

The Beautiful Ajuda Botanical Gardens of Belem

Walked to the Ajuda Botanical Gardens of Belem from there. I’d read that there was a small entry fee for this garden, but when we got there, no one was at the gate, so we just went in. Spent some time taking photos. It was beautifully landscapes and away from the crowds, which was a relief.

We left through the gate on the opposite side of the gardens and, wouldn’t you know, there’s the ticket booth. Oops. Oh well. Google Maps has had a bad habit this trip of taking me to all the wrong entrances.

The Funky LX Factory & Lisbon Underground

My dad wanted to stop by this place that was basically a bunch of train cars with street art. He Googled it and said it was the LX Factory, an arts community. While the LX Factory was really nice and cool, it was not what we later discovered was the Lisbon Underground Village. That was right next to it. Both artsy Belem hotspots.

Took a stroll through LX, which is a lot of art installations, street arts, crafty shops and cafes. We could see the Underground from where we were, but it turned out there was no direct entrance. You literally have to walk a half mile out the back of LX, and all the way around to the Underground entrance on the opposite side. After all of that, it was pretty cool, but super small. A lot of walking and my mood was improving by the minute. 

Leaving Belem for Lisbon’s Time Out Market & Pink Street

Leaving Belem and heading back towards downtown Lisbon, we stopped for lunch at Time Out! Yay! There were so many people and so many food options, it was insane. But we found a place that had its own little seating section, more or less, and was away from the whole “cafeteria” area. (A side note that there’s lots of beer and wine there, too!)

We got bread, salad, steak and potatoes, desert and a couple glasses of wine for 12 Euro each. And it was amazing. A couple of folks had recommended this place to us, and I would 100% recommend it to others. 

We decided to walk the mile from Time Out back to our hotel. The whole walk turned out to be up a hill, over a block, up a hill, over a block. In the blazing heat. We walked through a couple of cool areas (Pink Street), but I was busy being a brat, and didn’t realize some of the spots we went through had much more to see than… what I saw. I was just so determined to get back and stop walking. Hindsight. Sigh. Overall, I’m really glad we went out to Belem, but there’s still so much more to see.

One Last Night On The Rooftop

We finally got back and chilled for a bit. We were debating going out for dinner and I suggested we go put to the rooftop bar for sunset. They have snacks there and we had a big lunch anyway. When we got up there, it was incredibly packed. There were no seats anywhere and we shared a couch and table area with a couple of girls.

I saw they had a bill on the table, so I stopped a random waitress to ask for service. She told me it would be better if I stood in line for the bar myself. Like… better for who? I’ve been walking across the city of Lisbon in 90+ degree heat all day, and I think it would be great if you served us. But… I went and stood in line, anyway. 

After fifteen minutes or so, a woman that appeared to be the manager told the people behind me that, if they had a table, they could go sit and someone would serve them. And that was my cue. I’d been pissed off for a portion of the day for nothing, but here was my chance to get some of it out of my system. I told her what the waitress said to me and, well, she arranged it so we had attentive service for the rest of the evening. Sometimes, it does pay to complain. Be nice to people… but complain. 

The sunset was gorgeous and, while tame for the last night out, it really was a nice way to end the trip. The bar area started slowing down and opening up not soon after, so we had the opportunity to relax after all. Heading back home tomorrow. Another lovely travel experience in the books. 

Lisbon at night

The Way Home…

Do you ever have one of those trips where everything goes wrong with your flights? Yes? Well, this is on of those for me. I get that things go haywire for any variety of reasons and, many times, there’s not much customer service can do about it. That doesn’t mean it’s not aggravating. I’d sustained some low-level stress the day before just being an asshole, but that stress moved into today and, eventually, I gave myself a migraine. Which just added to the experience. I get chronic migraines, so I never go anywhere without my medicine. Was able to pop a pill and wait for it to subside.

The Lisbon Airport

For starters, the Lisbon airport has this thing where you can’t get to your gate and sit down without going through another security screening (after the standard screening). You basically stand there until right before boarding time, which seems like a massive inconvenience for everyone involved.

Then, when you’re finally moving through the line, you have all these folks cutting or being prioritized because they paid to be special or they’re traveling with 29 kids (some of whom look old enough to hang out with the rest of us). 

Then, we get on the flight and see that there’s no in-flight entertainment. And there’s no USB outlets. Oh, they have those tiny 1990s TVs where you can watch a movie you have no desire to watch, but no individual ones.

I just feel like… it’s time, airlines. This is basic customer service now, and it should be included in any flight over, say, 4 hours. Maybe even shorter. The worst part was there were no USB chargers to keep your iPad or phone charged while you were busy entertaining yourself for 8 hours. Ridiculous. I made it, though. 


If you’re a first-time Gate 1 customer, you’re eligible to receive $50 off an escorted tour to Portugal. (Or any other country they offer escorted tours in.) Just provide them my name and account number when booking and voila! Reach out via the Contact form, if interested, and I can provide you the necessary info.

It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye

We got to Philly where we were transferring for—literally—a half hour flight to DC. I also hate it when airlines do this. So pointless. There may have been a short delay to begin with if my memory serves me correctly, but we ended up sitting on the tarmac in line for an hour and a half. For a half hour flight. I could’ve driven to DC from Philly in the time we sat on the tarmac. But that would be skiplagging and an airline could sue us. After waiting for what seemed like the longest time, the pilot announces that we were third or fourth in line for take-off. Like… we’ve been waiting forever and we’re still third or fourth in line? It was insanity. But, we ultimately made it home, of course.

Overall, while this week wasn’t one of my greatest adventures ever, I did really enjoy it. It’s a really beautiful country and the people are so nice. Everything is really inexpensive. And there’s so much more to do in the country than we had time to do. I could definitely go back and check out the Algarve and Porto. I’d 100% recommend it. Until next time, fellow debaucherers…   

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