I don’t usually do trips on back-to-back weekends, so after my Italy trip this was sure bound to wear me out. I flew into Lisbon with medium expectations, as previously getting my hopes up about a place has usually led me to be disappointed. Let’s just say that Lisbon far exceeded my expectations, and quickly became one of my favorite cities in Europe.
I checked the weather before I left, and saw that it was going to be San Diego-esque for most of the time I was there. This started a recurring theme, as so many things here reminded me of San Diego, making me homesick but also making me love Lisbon even more. I booked a private room at a hostel, and I don’t talk about my accommodations much (because usually they are nothing special), but this hostel was top-rate. Aside from being immaculately clean, having air conditioning, and serving pancakes for the free breakfast, there was this great rooftop terrace to hang out at with a swimming pool and bar. Also, right across the street was an Irish pub and a vegetarian restaurant called ‘The Green Room’, where I ended up eating three of my nights here. This was a nice surprise, as my original hostel told me a week prior to my trip that they had overbooked and could no longer provide me a room, so I had no idea what to expect but it turned out to be great.
Most cities in Europe have free walking tours, and they’re great. You tip the tour guide at the end, but you end up seeing so much of the city it’s totally worth it. I took the free walking tour my first day with Ana, a Sicilian tour guide who was really cool. We were in a big group, and went towards the Alfama district, which is known for its narrow streets and also known for originating ‘Fado’ music, which I’ll talk about later. One of our first stops was the Se Cathedral, a beautiful church, so beautiful that I was so busy taking pictures I lost the rest of the tour group!
I meandered up into the Alfama district and later found my way back with the group, so all was good. 🙂 I met an Irish guy on the tour, Killian, and his Polish girlfriend…turns out they live in Brussels. Very cool people, I hope I’ll be seeing them again.
There are lots of hills in Portugal…LOTS of hills. I’m not a fan of bicyclists, so this worked well for me, as I barely saw any my entire time here…I guess the terrain was not-so-friendly. I went on a ‘Fado night’ tour on Sunday, which was awesome. Fado is the local music in Portugal, and it originated in the Alfama district, which was a short walk from where I was staying. It’s a very sad, emotional style of music…sad like American country, where the wife or husband leaves, or the dog dies…stuff like that. I shot some video of the performances, but they were done in candle-light so the videos came out very dark and are primarily just audio. I loved how they had different performers go up and sing, men and women, and people would cheer them on when they really nailed it.
Lisbon has this really cool square, where they have a statue of King Jose I. He was the King when an earthquake in the 1700s leveled the city, and he presided over the recovery and reconstruction efforts. This square also is right in front of the Arch of Augusta, a truly beautiful arch that leads onto one of the the main streets of the city.
My last day in Lisbon, I took the metro to the marina, trying to find the aquarium but the signs weren’t that great so I never did. I did get a great picture of me standing under a waterfall at the water gardens…lots of likes on Facebook!
I later met a friend, Ariana, who I had met previously on one of the tours. We went to the Jardim de Estrela and the Basilica Estrela, both were very beautiful, and well worth the long walk uphill (most of Lisbon is uphill, even going back the way you came, not sure how that happened). I spotted a playground, and like the kid I am had to go down the slide…Ari caught some great pics of me as I was not acting my age. 🙂
As I walked to the train station the next morning, I was able to see some of the amazing street art…Lisbon is known for this, graffiti art and also amazing murals covering the sides of buildings. As I got on the train, I wished I had spent a few more days here.
Lisbon was truly awesome. The only bad thing I can say about it was there were a lot of drug dealers on the street, but that even wasn’t that uncomfortable because drugs are legal here, so it wasn’t that shady. People left you alone after you said ‘no’. Next time in Lisbon, however, I have considered wearing a shirt that says ‘no cocaine, no hash’ just to make things easier. 🙂 The day trips, which are separate blog entries, were equally amazing, and made me think I could live here for quite awhile and not get bored. This is a very laid back city, with incredible weather and numerous things to keep you busy. I love Lisbon!