Someone said that we travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. And at some point, they are right. I love exploring, and I firmly believe that this passion of exploring something new will let us stay alive and active.
I can not say that the destination I am going to describe is just a country. No, it is not the only destination, but it is also not only a country, that is the whole empire with the decades of history.
One of the smallest countries in Europe, it has outstanding food, wine, unique rhyme of the life and fantastic atmosphere no matter which part of the country you visit.
Sometimes I wonder how it is possible to combine all of these things together on such a small territory? How is it possible to be so beautiful? Good question, is not it?
We landed in Lisbon at around 2 P.M., and the first feeling you have is about how sunny this place is. Another fact which makes you speechless is architecture. Colorful buildings, super narrow streets, a lot of flowers on the balconies, roof bars and terrace cafes, spectacular views of the bridges or Alfama district..yes, it is everything about Lisbon. I would say that it can be named a king of the entire country. That is the place where you feel yourself super small, tiny one in comparison to everything you see – Castelo de São Jorge, high decorated buildings, Commercial Square and Ponte de 25 Abril. Every corner of the city has its piece of history, its story.
For example, the cobbles of the Castle remember not only Royals but prisoners during every century. The Commercial Square, the gate to the city, has beautiful arcades and lemon colors for the facade.
Even though Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, it remains very intimate and romantic. If you feel like spending an evening with the glass of wine and enjoying the sunset on one of those terraces in Alfama, you are in the right place; you are in Lisbon. If you want to watch the combination of natural beauty and human’s hardworking, you should get closer to the Ponte de 25 Abril. It looks super magic during the evening. There are a lot of nice cozy cafes next to this bridges, so it is possible to have fun every second.
Ponte de 25 Abril
Lisboa is usually called one of the windiest spots in Europe. That is why you need to grab your favorite jumper and someone who can give you a hug during some of the cold evenings.
A small advice for people who are willing to visit Lisbon, – be very careful during the night. Some people sell drugs or let us call it drug related products. They can approach you asking if you want to buy some. But from another hand, there is nothing to be scared of. Once you say No, they will stop offering.
Where to stay
Do not be surprised that there is any heating system in the city. It is my second time there, and I could not find any accommodation which has a central system of heating. The reason is very easy to understand, – weather. It is quite warm, so it does not make any sense to keep the apartment heated. If you stay in the downtown, double check if the building has the elevator. Even if you think, that it doesn’t matter, but if you travel with luggage or with kids and a lot of stuff to carry, lack of elevator can cause some problems. In some of the buildings, stairs are so narrow, that one person can barely fit.
I would suggest walking. Visitors usually think that the city is huge and it is impossible to check the places without using the transport. And they have a point to think so because you will not be able to walk to airport for example. But if you are interested in exploring the historical part, it is fine to walk. One more thing to keep in mind, – you can catch the tram #28, and it will take you to interesting places in Lisboa. If you use metro for the first time, you will need to buy a card (they are available from the ticket machine) and then pay the ticket. There are several options how to get to the city from the airport – metro, aerobus (with two different directions – city center and the business center of the capital), taxi (ask for the receipt from the taxi driver, just to be on the safe side).
What to see
One of the must-see locations I usually to ask to see is Alfama. It is like a big huge garden with colorful balconies, small tiny streets, yellow trams and beautiful churches. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes, pastry shops, souvenir shops. In my opinion, this district will make you feel the Portuguese lifestyle as it is. Do not forget to go to Castelo de São Jorge; it has a lot of open terrace with the stunning views of the city. Lisboa can be proud of the Santa Justa Elevator. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, it will take you to the altitude of 45 m. And as you suppose, there is a lovely scenery. While walking, you will not be able to miss Commercial Square, Rossio Square, Avenida da Liberdade. Speaking about the last one, I would suggest visiting the cafes with the live music, not only traditional fado but also young DJs play their own.
There is a Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery, which are located a bit away from the city center. They are situated next to the water, so one of the best spots to take pictures.
What to eat
Huge advice – go for the local food. There are plenty of places where you can try seafood, local wine or local pastry. They usually serve traditional starters which include bread, olives, some spread, some pickles might be included as well. One of the specialties I really liked – seafood soup. It tastes good and warms you up. Bare in mind that Portugal is famous for wine. No matter if it was produced next to Porto or in Duoro region, it is always nice.
They say that you need to visit Paris before you die. They must add Lisbon to the same list. If you go there once, you will fall in love forever.