“Lisbon is such a calm city. We make sure to stay here a week every year,” said the random elderly couple right next to us at the hotel breakfast. They then proceeded to gripe about America (telling us we didn’t look like your usual Americans so we’re ok) and talk about quack theories. But their comments on Lisbon stuck with me, because there’s probably no better way to describe it. Lisbon is a calm city. And all this despite being the capital of Portugal and its largest city, with plenty of history and beautiful, bright houses. It just hums with that quiet confidence of someone who knows their worth and won’t change a damn thing.
Lisbon was the starting place of the 12-day tour of Spain and Portugal that took us to Lisbon, all over Andalusia, and finished in Madrid. (Photos incoming) It was whirlwind, but we saw so much and now I have some pointers about what’s worth exploring in more detail. Lisbon – and Portugal in general – probably tops that list. We only had two days there, but I loved it! We set out to the Castelo de Sao Jorge first, to catch amazing views of Lisbon and the Tejo. Then we skipped over to get a pasteis de nata (little egg custard tarts), which I’ve only ever had in Paris at a Portuguese café (these were much better). The medievalist in me quickly honed in on the Carmo Convent, a medieval cathedral that was partially destroyed in the horrific earthquake of 1755. The Romantics left the ruins relatively untouched and now it’s a cool museum and a great photo opp.
The next day we had more of a structured tour, walking around the neighborhoods of Alfama and Baixa, ending with a visit to Belem and its famous tower. After a trip to Sintra and Cascais (photos to come later) we were back in time to stroll to the waterfront and watch the sun set over the river as some seriously talented guy made sculptures out of sand (it almost seems like a shared pastime with Spain, because in Torremolinos there were some serious sand castles with moving toy trains and painted designs).
We’ve only barely scratched the surface of this beautiful city and this beautiful country, so I can’t wait to be back! I’ve heard Porto is a great place to go in the north and then the beaches of the Algarve call. Hope you enjoy the photos!
A FEW TIPS
Praça Martim Moniz 2, 1100-341
The main draw is the central location as well as the rooftop bar with amazing views of both the Castelo (beautifully lit up at night) and the rest of Lisbon.
R. do Milagre de Santo António 6, 1100-351
Close to the Castelo on your way down. It’s inside a hotel, but the restaurant had a separate entrance. Delicious spreads and refreshing sangria – but the views on the terrace are some of my favorites.
If you’re into it, pick up a few cork products and some tinned sardines and maybe some tiles. I couldn’t get too crazy with the home decorating, as I am renting in NY, but a girl can dream…
(Funny story, had to buy some plates for the apartment and ducked into west elm only to find their new line of reactive glaze plates made in – you guessed it – Portugal. Of course I bought some.)