Posted on September 23rd, 2016
Lagos was absolutely incredible but definitely not Portugal in all of its traditional glory. Lisbon did that well though. I always love going to the capital of a country, getting to see the real essence of its culture. Lisbon was absolutely stunning; beautiful streets lined with houses covered in intricately designed tiles and all on one big hill. The city is littered with public elevators which help you in trying to make your way around this hilly city.
Lisbon was also the place where I’d be meeting up with my cousin Kerry, who’s living in London. She would just be popping over for the weekend (#jetsetter) and so we had the whole of Saturday together. It was such a joy to spend good quality time with her again after our last meet up in Champagne, France. We caught up over breakfast in our hostel before setting out for a fabulous day in Lisbon. It began with a lovely little meander through the Alfama neighborhood. I just loved this part of town with all of the characterful doorways, old tiled walls and streets filled with bright yellow old-fashioned trams.
The old yellow trams that rattle through this neighborhood are just so dear and ooze the essence of a time long ago. We HAD to hop on one and enjoyed the ride, passing through Alfama and Graca districts.
This day was actually just an amazing foodie day of trying all of Portugal’s greatest. We finished our morning off with a delicious liquor amendoa amarga at a really cute little bar in a side street saturated with pretty and colourful street art.
And then…and THEN. I don’t think words will ever be able to really describe our five-hour long traditional Portuguese lunch. We had heard about this place from the girl at the hostel who described it as having the best Portuguese food. We set out with a few squiggly lines on our map and a rough scribble of a name. We walked up and down Lisbon’s treacherous hills trying to find this place so secret that not even google maps knew about it! We heard it before we saw it and knew we’d arrived. Tucked in a hole in the wall you’d never have known what waited inside. There seemed to be a bit of a party going on outside and we soon realised why when we found out the waiting time for a table. We grabbed a few drinks and waited outside. When we finally got inside we ordered chorizo, bread, olives, vino verde and a big steaming dish to share of the tenderest calamari I’ve ever tasted. Doused in garlic, herbs and olive oily goodness we just enjoyed the sensation of velvet in our mouths. It was a feast and just made more perfect by the jovial Portuguese surrounding us. A group of Portuguese locals invited us to join them and so we sat and drank wine together for hours, just laughing and enjoying the local experience. Absolutely incredible.
That night we joined the rest of Lisbon in swarming the Bairro Alto district, a hustling bustling movement of people chatting, drinking and dancing to music in the streets. The Portuguese way prefer to party out in the streets than in the empty bars they leave behind them. After a great night out of dancing and fun we said goodbye to Kerry after a jam-packed day in Lisbon. It was too short but still such a joy!
The next day Jodi and I took it slow, making it to the Time Out market at Lisbon’s water front in time for lunch. It reminded me a lot of the market at the Waterfront in Cape Town and so the vast array of food to choose from was a little perplexing. I went for a prego roll which just melted in my mouth.
We then hopped on a more modern tram and headed towards Belem. This area boasts monuments in honor of the Age of Discoveries such as the Torres de Belem. We stumbled upon a beautiful open air market and made up for whatever souvenir shopping we had been lacking before. We then went to Pasteis de Belem and bought some pastels de nata. We found a shady patch of grass and basked in all the glory that is this Portuguese pastry. A warm, flaky pastry cupping a creamy custardy center and dusted with cinnamon. Just divine.
We had a quiet night in cooking for ourselves. The next day we meandered a bit more, trying to take in as much of Lisbon’s beauty before having lunch at the market and catching our train up north to Porto. I thoroughly enjoyed our time in Lisbon, truly experiencing the Portuguese culture and food while admiring the beauty of this stunning city.