I admit it’s been a while since our last post and it’s perhaps got to do with Lara first heading off to the U.S. and then starting her career as a teacher which means she won’t really be joining me on this project anytime soon. So I began to hesitate whether to keep writing, or to quit living in this abstract, superficial online world where you’re constantly under pressure to produce new interesting content but I finally decided it’s really up to me how I spend my days and I just won’t allow myself to get drawn into this mainstream kind of thing and decided to just continue doing what I love.
But this isn’t really what I wanted to tell you. About a month ago, I visited Lisbon and as I was going through my photos with my dad yesterday morning, I once again realized it would be a shame not to share them with you. Also because I’m head over heels in love with Lisbon and would go back at this very moment if I could. I even started learning Portuguese, so yes, it really hit me this time.
My expectations of Lisbon were quite high as all my friends that had been there before told me I’d love it for sure so when mum and I left, I actually started having doubts cause I was worried my expectations would be too high. It quickly turned out though that despite all my friends’ comments I did fall in love with this place instantly. The locals were disturbingly friendly, they’d try to help you out even if you don’t speak a word of Portuguese (and obrigada doesn’t count). People were so surprisingly calm and relaxed, the world quickly slowed down and I felt very welcome in this city. It was my first time in Portugal, so I had absolutely no clue about their history, culture, language and I enjoyed my stay so much that I can’t wait to go back there to check out some more places. Porto is definitely on top of my travel list.
Lisbon – or Lisboa as the Portuguese call their capital city – is built on supposedly 7 hills but apparently there are 8. Since it’s more prestigious to have 7 hills like the Roman capital why not make it 7, right? Anyways, it’s a hilly city with a lot of walking up and down, so if you ever do plan to go there you might want to leave your high heels at the hotel. The good news is that in a city with 7 hills you get a hell good of a view of the city. There is a great number of Miradouros – which means viewing platform in Portuguese -that will reward your sweaty climbing efforts.
On our first night, mum and I went for an evening walk and as we strolled through the ancient streets of Lisbon, we came across a traditional festival with dancers wearing traditional clothing. A day earlier (12 June), the Santo Antonio Festival, patron saint of Portugal, started so we figured this must have still been part of the party that was going on all weekend. The further we went, the more the streets filled up with people and the smell of freshly grilled Sardines and traditional music. Houses in Portugal are beautifully decorated with colourful tiles that make you want to take pictures of every single one. In the background you can see the Tejo river that very much resembles the ocean but really is a river delta. The architecture and monuments take you back to colonial times when Lisbon was still a rich, international colonial power.
Any blogger that has been to Lisbon or Portugal generally writes about how delicious the small little vanilla pastries – pastéis de nata – are, so I’ll spare you that one (but let’s be honest, they really are damn fabulous!). I’ll talk about ginjinha, a lovely cherry liquor, instead that you should give a go while there. I am usually not very fond of spirits but this liquor really is worth giving it a try. It tastes like a cherry popsicle to be honest and you can get it on the streets in Alfama or any local store if you want to take it home.
Here is some advice that might be useful to you, or even to myself when I re-read this before my second trip to Lisbon/Portugal:
- Transport: It’s best to get a ‘viva viagem’ card at the metro station. It’s a little green card that costs about 1€ and is refundable. Without this card you’ll have troubles getting around in Lisbon. You will need to put some money on the card so you can use public transport. They’ll charge you every time you get on the tram/bus/metro, unless you can get a day pass, meaning that you can get on and off as many times as you wish. ALSO: there is no metro till late in the morning. So if you plan on getting to the airport by metro, please make sure you check the timetable first. This might be helpful: http://www.metrolisboa.pt
- Be careful at restaurants. Keep in mind that the starters (usually cheese, bread, olives etc.) on the table are not free, they are usually included in the ‘couvert’ that will be charged anyways.
- Beware of pickpockets, especially when riding the historical Eléctrico 28! If you’d like to take a ride on tram 28 make sure you get on at Martim Moniz (there’s usually a long queue but it’s worth waiting). End stop is usually Prazeres but you can easily get off at any other stop. Mum and I hopped off in Chiado near the famous Café A Brasileira where Fernando Pessoa, famous Portuguese poet, had a drink every now and then while doing some writing.
- My favourite Miradouros: Miradouro da Graça, Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara, Largo das Portas do Sol.
- I always love having a little tour guide on me when I travel. One of my favourites is the Marco Polo one as it gives a nice overview of the city’s history, culture, people, most important sights, usually includes a map. I was very satisfied with the different adventure tours they put together. Every tour is timed and even calculated if you want to visit all their museums they propose. They also planned coffee and lunch breaks where you can enjoy your time in Lisboa.
Hope this was somewhat useful. Have a happy stay in Lisbon!