What can a person say about Lisbon that hasn’t been said before? I guess it’s hard for every blogger to think about thousands of posts and photographs on the same subject, and to try to write original content, something that will intrigue the reader.
As there are many great posts and ultimate guides to this astonishing yet quirky city, I am going to write just my personal experience, accompanied with bunch of photos!
It was a long winter and after a hard battle between Iceland and Portugal, we decided to flee to the south, with the first signs of spring. By the time the first buds appeared we longed for the sun, longer days, warm climate and light food.
We landed in Lisbon by night, greeted by strong wind and a heavy shower. The broad avenues were magnificent even by night, our neighborhood was scented by beautiful jacaranda trees and on our first dinner in Portugal I ate (without knowing what I’m ordering) a delicious, heartwarming soup which turned out to be made of tripes! And that's what's traveling is about- it makes you step out of your routine and comfort zone and provides you with new experiences, something that you normally wouldn't experience at home.
Due to time difference, we woke up early in the morning which gave us enough time to explore the city a bit, before heading to Ėvora and Algarve for a few days.
Followed by a recommendation on the lovely Eating the World blog we went to Pastelaria Versailles, which was fortunately located about 5 minutes from our apartment- this old style cafe imitates the grandeur of the palace of the Sun King in a very charming manner- the waiters are extremely polite, the place is filled with locals having their breakfast, and the selection of sweets is so wide that if it weren’t for Lisbon's signature sweet Pasteis de nata, one would have difficulties choosing!
After breakfast we browsed a little around the Avenida da Repùblica and the thing that amazed us the most was the light- everything was so bright, the sun shined intensively, the air was- airy, and the ocean wind was omnipresent.
Another great coincidence was that the Museu Gulbenkian was also in our neighborhood, and we had just enough time to visit it. We expected a nice collection, but we didn’t expect amazing gallery space with large glass walls that open up to the greenery of the garden and almost look like a picture on its own, admirable collection which contained art pieces from Egyptian figurines and medieval manuscripts to impressionists and wonderful secessionist jewelry by René Lalique and a nice museum shop. One more thing- there are no crowds and waiting in lines for the masterpieces in this museum, one can really take some time to sit, enjoy, contemplate, relax in this amazing space!
Before heading to Ėvora we had a quick lunch in the restaurant called A parte, also in the neighbourhood- apart from having unusual and charming interior, this restaurant also makes the best salad I’ve ever tasted- out of green salad, grilled prawns, fresh mango and caramelized nuts! Yum!
We returned to Lisbon after a few days spent on the wild coast of Algarve, and the first impression of the city was so good that I could not wait to come back. We found an apartment in the old quartier of Alfama, in a steep narrow street adorned with many plants- for some reason, every tourist group and tuk tuk stopped to take a photo of that exact street, we never found out why!
A minute walk from our apartment was a wine bar called The Corkscrew where we had dinner on all the three nights we spent in Lisbon. So in a street renowned for its fado restaurants, we listened to jazz music, eating punchy Portuguese cheeses and drinking wine. This restaurant makes few dishes, but they are prepared from scratch, in front of you, and their bartender style steak and flambeed pancakes are to die for!
Since we had only two days left in Lisbon we decided to make the best of it and take at least a peak of every of the old neighborhoods. We started in Alfama, climbing up to Castelo São Jorge for some incredible views of the sunbathed city- there were lots of tourists wandering around its ancient walls, but the funny thing was that we kept bumping into the same people on different parts of the city, as if we were in a small one :D
The Ponte 25 de Abril red bridge which dominates the scene reminded me of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, and although I’ve never been to SF, I got the impression that these cities are alike- from the bridge, to the hilly neighborhoods, old school trams and the jacaranda trees.
We did visit the cathedral (Sé) in Alfama, but otherwise, we just strolled up and down the hilly neighborhood, both amazed by the lovely alleys and tile adorned houses and surprised by many abandoned, run-down buildings and dirty corners. The lovely thing is that the whole neighborhood echoes the song of many singing birds that the residents keep on their balconies! I loved the colors of the city- colorful tiles, painted façades, red and yellow trams, adorned traffic signs and intensively blue skies!
We followed the red tram line to the neighborhood of Baixa, but I'll have to write another post about the rest of our stay in Lisbon, as I have too much to say and to show to fit in just one post! In the meantime, I would love to hear your Lisbon experiences and maybe some recommendations for the next visit!