Lisbon

Posted by on Aug 5, 2015 in Europe, Portugal, Travel | 0 comments

Lisbon

After days spent relaxing on beaches we leave sunny Lagos and drive north to Lisbon.

The capital of Portugal, Lisbon is a quintessentially European city with beautiful churches, plazas, cobblestoned streets, winding alleyways and distinct neighbourhoods.

The cobblestones here are particularly impressive and beautiful, as limestone has been used to create various decorative patterns which are like a living artwork.

 

An example of the pavement in Lisbon

An example of the pavement in Lisbon

 

Colourfully tiled buildings glint in the sun and trams make their way along leafy streets, while locals sip espresso and tourists window shop.

To get a better idea of what the city is all about we do a walking tour that takes us all over and tells us about Lisbon’s interesting history.

We wander through the steep and narrow walkways of the Alfama neighbourhood, stopping to taste some homemade ginjinha (a sour cherry liqueur) from the window of a woman’s house.

Neighbours have loud conversations from their balconies on opposite sides of the street, while women gossip in the communal laundries.

Alfama is an authentic village and it feels very intimate, you can hear people’s radios, smell their cooking, and walk beneath their clothes hung out to dry.

The haunting sounds of traditional fado music being sung by a lone man fill a square as people eat their dinner and locals listen from their apartments.

Our walking tour ends with a panoramic view over Lisbon just as the sun sets, from the front of Graça Church.

The apartment we stayed in is perfectly located in the Chiado neighbourhood, surrounded by great restaurants, bars and close to the shops.

 

Wayne on the street of our apartment, Rua Do Duque

Wayne on the street of our apartment, Rua Do Duque

 

The first night we go only a few doors down to a wonderful little restaurant called Moura Saluquia, run by a husband and wife.  At first the husband doesn’t want to seat us as they have a big group booked in an hour, but the wife has some stern words to him, gives me a friendly wink, and he begrudgingly seats us.

Fresh fish is sitting on ice as you walk in, and he takes a few options over to another table where a lengthy discussion is had before the perfect fish selected.  I have a salmon fillet grilled so it’s crispy on the outside without drying out the fish, served with sea salt on top and a side of steamed vegetables.

Some reviews I read complained the food in Portugal is too basic.  There is no doubt it is honest and simple food, but it’s done right and with high quality ingredients.  I actually prefer this to food that has been doused in a myriad of sauces and herbs to mask sub standard ingredients or cooking.

In the morning we devour breakfast at the aptly named Brunch Cafe.  The service is slow but the food is good and the cafe nice and relaxed.

 

My breakfast at Brunch Cafe

My breakfast at Brunch Cafe

 

On Sunday we have a buffet brunch at Quinoa, where for 15 euro you get all you can eat of delicious salads, hot and cold dishes, pastries, coffee and juice.

We try the famous piri piri chicken from Frangasqueira Nacional, but it’s not as good as the one we had in Lagos, and the piri piri isn’t spicy enough for our liking (despite asking for extra hot!)

On our last night we check out Time Out’s Mercado da Ribeira, a food hall with restaurant and bar vendors from all over the city in one place.  It’s a great concept, but it’s really crowded and the foodcourt atmosphere cannot be escaped.

I had salted cod with chickpeas from Henrique Sa Pessoa, which was phenomenal and I would recommend a visit to their actual restaurant.

All in all Lisbon is an interesting city with plenty to offer in terms of shopping, restaurants and nightlife.  It is vibrant and has a real character and personality.

The downside is it’s quite expensive, if you come by car it’s 20 euro in tolls each way and don’t even get me started on parking!  It’s also quite popular with tourists, as to be expected in any capital city.

I’m glad we experienced Lisbon, but I don’t plan on returning.

 

The view from

The view from Graça Church

 

Arches along the side of the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square)

Arches along the side of the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square)

 

Remnants from the Santo Antonio Festival, which we missed by a few weeks

Remnants from the Santo Antonio Festival, which we missed by a few weeks

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