|Lisbon - or Lisboa as it is known to its inhabitants, is the capital of Portugal with a population of half a million with a small town feel.
And we finally found those low prices we were searching for. We stayed in a quirky hostel: just 4 rooms, a full kitchen with washing machine and patio and a single community bathroom...a new and bit disconcerting experience. We took full advantage of the kitchen to whip up some healthier, more diverse meals than we can find in restaurants and to save some money. Since our room opened to the patio, we kind of took it over for eating outside and drying the ubiquitous laundry.
We spent hours wandering the narrow lanes of the Baixa and Alfama districts but our two favorite sites were not in the heart of Lisbon. One was the Monastery of Jeronimos in nearby Belem; dating from 1496, it's a lovely cathedral with attached cloister.
Reaching our other favorite, the early-20th century extravaganza Quinta de Regaleira palace, entailed our now-familiar travails by train; Portuguese trains are famous for their unreliability; it took 2.5 hours to reach the tiny mountain town of Sintra, 30 km (18 miles) away. Sintra is the former summer playground of royalty and millionaires and their fabulous estates and gardens are now open to the public - for a fee, of course.
On our last evening in town, we visited a bar famous for offering Lisbon's trademark music, fado, a form of narrative singing; it's quite beautiful but we wouldn't want a steady diet of it.