Two years ago, I published two posts about a couple of days we spent in Lisbon. There were so many photos left from that trip, that I planned to make at least one more post about it, but I never found the time. This spring, my parents are traveling to Lisbon, which made me daydream about flickering azulejos, colorful trams, houses, souvenirs, warm days, pasteis de nata, jacaranda trees, the river Tejo, broad avenues, crumbling side alleys, giant 25 de Abril bridge, and the sun, the sun, the sun...all that Lisbon is.
This spring and summer, we have some exciting travels ahead (hints: France, Italy- not a surprise!), but if I'd find myself teleported to Lisbon for just one day, I would spend it something like this:
First I would head to see and smell the jacaranda trees in the Museo Gulbelkian neighborhood. It was there I first encountered those beautiful plants, and the scent they filled the streets with after the rain is one of my first associations to Lisbon now. Then I would have a hearty breakfast at Pastelaria Versailles, conveniently located just a short walk away. On my way, I would admire the azulejos flickering on the sun in all the different colors and patterns (and I'm positive it would be a sunny day). In Pastelaria Versailles, I would not only have typical Portuguese sweet Pasteis de nata, but also croissants with cheese and ham, sweet croissants and a fresh pressed orange juice (because it's a long day ahead!).
I would take a walk down the Avenida de Liberdade with its lush greenery and fancy stores (I would just take a glimpse at those, as I wouldn't want to waste my precious time), to the Praca dos Restauradores all the way to beautiful, open space of Praca do Comercio. I would take in the sun, yellow facades and the buzz of the people attracted to this vivid square just as I am. Then I would be lured by the waters and the fresh breeze of river Tejo. My eyes would squint of all the sun coming from the broad, bright skies and reflecting from the gentle river waves.
The boardwalk would take me further to the neighborhood of Chiado, and from there I would take the steep cobbled streets of Bairro Alto. I would get lost in those streets, following the colorful trams up an down, exploring little local shops, taking in the atmosphere of crumbling facades, azulejos everywhere and fresh laundry hanging above it all.
It would be almost too late for lunch when I'd realize how hungry and thirsty I am, but I would make it last minute to the restaurant A'Parte. I would sit in their labyrinth-like terrace with a glass of wine and the savory prawn, caramelized hazelnuts, mango and lettuce salad- a dish that for me is the taste of Lisbon: sunny from the mango, fresh from the lettuce, almost too sweet from the hazelnuts and uncompromisingly delicious from the prawns. All that Lisbon is, again.
I was thinking of skipping Belem today, but I won't. There is still some energy left to take the squeaky tram ride down the Tejo waterfront. I would sit by the window surrounded by tourists from all over the world: a loud Spanish family, elderly German couple and giggly American students, all with the same goal of going up the Padrao dos Descobrimentos, looking down on the vast river and little moving dots of hundreds of other visitors. I would listen to all the different languages while the town would pass by my window: I wouldn't want to miss the view of the grand bridge 25 de Abril.
Once in Belem, I would again enjoy vast Lisbon open spaces (I love that about Lisbon!). It would be windy on the top of Padrao dos Descobrimentos, but I would take some photos anyway and marvel at the grandness of it all from above. I would walk to Torre de Belem and take in the afternoon sun with a fresh drink in my hand. And then I would head back because I would want to freshen up a bit before dinner and a stroll up and down the Alfama neighborhood. It would be a crisp evening (it's still spring after all) and I would be very tired and a little bit cold; the sound of fado would lure me in this time (because last time, we heard fado from our apartment window and on the streets of Alfama, but we didn't go into one of the restaurants where you can enjoy it with a glass of wine). This time I wouldn't miss it, and if I could choose, she would perform, the lights would be dim but warm, and there would be wine, cheese and olives on my table.
What would you do if you had a day in Lisbon? I'm curious to know. :)