Relaxing Days in Colorful Lisbon – 2

Lisbon also has a name of “City of Seven Hills”, yes, it’s very hilly. When I got off at Baixa station the first time, I was totally lost. Luckily, I bought 7 day data plan sim card on my phone, looking at the map was not helpful, I had to use google navigation! Such a short distance on the map could mean a very steep uphill. It has great weather though. Although my photography tour guide told me it was unusual to have such August weather in June, the air was not humid, which was good news for tourists.

Great city view from Castelo de São Jorge:

More amazing view at the bottom of the castle, overlooking Alfama and the Tejo river:

Famous Tram that takes tourists up the hill:

Alfama, the oldest district of Lisbon:

I spent 6 days in Portugal, a beautiful, peaceful, and friendly country. Reception at hotel was trying to help in every possible way; waiter in restaurant would remind me to wear backpack on the front, etc. What can I ask more for a vacation?

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Day Trip to Sintra Portugal

Other than the main tourist attractions in the city, day trip always excites me. Somewhere away from the city centre, some place more peaceful, something that’s very different. I went to Sintra, and it’s only 30 mins train ride from Lisbon.

Moorish Castle, a hint of Beijing’s Great Wall.

Pena National Palace, beautiful exterior colors, exquisite interior details.

After waiting for an hour for the bus, and another 40 minutes bus ride, I arrived at Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Portugal and Europe. Breathtaking scenery, I couldn’t resist of a photo! It would be nice if I could stay to shoot the sunset, but the last bus to leave was at 9pm. Maybe next time!

Relaxing Days in Colorful Lisbon – 1

After a quick shopping trip in the morning at Covent Garden in London, I rushed to Gatwick airport and flied to Lisbon, Portugal. And this has been waiting for me:

During my 6 days of stay in Portugal, the weather has been sunny and cloudless like this every single day. As a Torontonian, who suffered two polar vortex winter and cool summers, I couldn’t ask for more!

Well, let’s start with some attractions:

Belem Tower

Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Jerónimos Monastery

Maybe you’ve visited hundreds of museums, but I bet Coach museum and Tiles museum is not one of them. I am not a museum person, however, I enjoyed every moment of these two:

While in the area, one simply cannot miss the famous Pastéis de Belém, started in 1837. Don’t line up for take out, have a seat, and enjoy the custard tart with a glass of lemonade, or beer.

Aeroplan

For the past few days, I have been reading, and learning how to use my aeroplan points efficiently to book a trip to Europe.

It was not that successful!

Firstly, I am not supposed to travel with Air Canada, due to its high tax and fuel surcharge when it crosses ocean. For example, I need to pay $736 CAD tax + 60,000 aeroplan points for a round trip to Lisbon, Portugal even though the air ticket is free itself. duhhh..

Secondly, I suppose to find flights with United Airline because it has very minimum tax and fuel surcharge, which means I would need to transfer in USA. If I am okay with that, the most challenging part is to find a flight that fits your schedule that has seats allocated for reward travel. So I managed to find UA flights to London, transferring at Newark airport, which is not too bad: YYZ – EWR – LHR. After staying at London for 2 days, LHR – LIS via TAP Portugal. So far so good. The problem is with the return trip, the agent cannot find a United flight that has seats for reward travel. So here are are my options:

1. Lisbon – Milan – Toronto: $540 CAD where last leg is flying with Air Canada
2. Lisbon – London – Toronto: $567 CAD where last leg is flying with Air Canada
3. Lisbon – London – Washington – Toronto: a long trip from 7:40am to 11:30pm IF there’s no flight delay: $360 CAD all United flights
4. Lisbon – London – Newark – Toronto: $282 CAD all United flights, but I have to stay in New York overnight, since there’s no United flight with reward seat that same day

Can you see the difference in price when you flight United vs. AC?

Thirdly, find the market price of your flight and determine your cents per mile (cpm). I found flights on Air Transat web site: Toronto to London, then Lisbon to Toronto, all direct flights at $660 CAD; plus an one way ticket from London to Lisbon at about $180 CAD, total comes out to be $840 CAD. Say I choose option 3 from above, that means I would be saving $480 CAD, and the cost is 60,000 aeroplan points. So my cents per mile is 0.8 (480/60000). Rule of thumb is don’t use your points if cpm is below 1.5!

Let’s say the cpm is 1.5 in my case, whether I am willing to transfer twice during the return trip is still debatable.

Anyways, I just booked my solo trip to London and Lisbon through Air Transat for $660! And saving my aeroplan for mini around the world trip! You can find more information about it here:
How To Save Money on Aeroplan Europe Redemptions
Aeroplan Mini RTW