June 14 – June 20, 2019
Lisbon (Sintra), Portugal – 6 nights
After Seville, we went to Lisbon for 6 days, taking one of those days for a side trip to a nearby castle town of Sintra. Lisbon is as charming as everyone says. We were surprised by how much Portuguese sounded like some Slavic language (even though it has nothing to do with any of them). I see no need to write about all that we have seen in Lisbon since all that can be found with a simple internet search of “Top tourist places in Lisbon”. My intent is to record what we experienced while there.
Although we had a car, we did not use it except for a daytrip to Sintra. We walked everywhere, hours at the time. All that urban walking I’ve done with the kids back in Seattle is coming handy now because our kids are used to it and don’t complain much, if at all. In Lisbon, we even rented scooters a couple of times and Nina especially thought that was fun. Pedja was fascinated with all the tile, everywhere – on sidewalks, buildings, benches, on the streets.
While in Seville, we planned to split up at times for city outings to give Petra more opportunity to relax without her brothers. However, it seemed like that just by having those marathon talks back in Seville, she perked up a bit in Lisbon. I would attribute this change to the fact that she was “talked out” and was tired of moping around (at least temporarily).
However, as soon as one kid felt better, another one needed our full attention. It was like Pedja and I were playing some sort of an “emotional-kid-whack-a-mole”. As Petra got off the emotional roller coaster, Maksim jumped on. He was getting frustrated quickly, he picked on Nina and was generally rude to all of us. On one occasion, we got out for sightseeing and we weren’t more than a few blocks away when he got into a fight with Nina and was exceptionally rude to us. Pedja ended up taking him back to the apartment for the rest of the day even though it was only early afternoon. It was a wasted day for Pedja but a needed time out for Maksim. Nikola, Petra and I continued our plans by ourselves and had a nice, calm, enjoyable touristy day.
The next day, we got ready again for all of us to go out for a short outing but Maksim was testing boundaries again. That time, I turned around and took him back to the apartment for the rest of the day. Pedja, Petra and Nina went out by themselves while Maki and I were back at the apartment where he had no entertainment for the whole day, except reading. Those 2 days of removing him from family activities did the trick and served as enough warning for him to stop the shenanigans for the rest of our time in Lisbon.
We all truly enjoyed the day we spent in Sintra. We went to the park and National Palace of Pena and were fortunate to start with the hike through the park before we ran into huge crowds at the palace. Wait line to get into the palace was at least a couple of hours long but we got to skip it on account of Nina. Petra and Maksim are often annoyed with Nina but when his benefits serve them well, they are happy to be in the same family. Maksim managed to scrape his toe running around the palace grounds and we once again were witnesses to the superb organization and quick response of first aid people. After spending a few hours at this palace, the kids were done with sightseeing and wanted to stay in the car while Pedja and I quickly when in to see Quinta da Regaleira. It turned out that we loved this place a lot more than the Palace of Pena. In conclusion, if in Lisbon, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Sintra.
Pedja and I went out on a couple of early morning dates, exploring the city before most were awake. We would leave the kids sleeping and would bring them fresh breakfast upon our return. We celebrated Father’s Day in Lisbon, with Petra and Maki surprising Pedja with the full breakfast the two of them made.
What we haven’t done enough in Lisbon is eat in restaurants. We did not experience Lisbon as typical tourists. It seems that food plays a major role in having a full Portuguese experience. We ate plenty of great bread, I had some Portuguese wine and we all had at least 3 daily doses of pasteis de nata.
We keep saying that we would love to return back to most locations we have seen so far. Same goes for Lisbon. I could see Pedja and I back there, by ourselves, eating out all the meals, walking those beautiful streets without push-and-pull dynamic with our kids.