I’m returning to Lisbon next week, indulging my rather desperate need to live there for a while. In this case, it will be for two weeks of apartment living, working and writing as per norm, in between hikes in the surrounding coastal areas, hours of walking to further familiarise myself with the layout and history of the land, time spent seeking out more of the alcada portuguesa, shopping at local markets and grocery stores and eating as many pastel de nata as my sugar levels will allow ….
I’ve booked my tickets to Lisbon and am ready to go back.
Lisbon is Portugal’s hilly, coastal capital city. From imposing São Jorge Castle, the view encompasses the old city’s pastel-colored buildings, Tagus Estuary and Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. Nearby, the National Azulejo Museum displays 5 centuries of decorative ceramic tiles. Just outside Lisbon is a string of Atlantic beaches, from Cascais to Estoril and further inland the charming longtime royal sanctuary resort town on the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains, Sintra.
These are a whole lot of pics from my trip in January that left me very much taken with the city. It was an important trip for me, as a solo traveller and as an individual. I felt alive there, more alive than I had in a very long time. There was a bounce in my step and a renewed vigor for tangible things that matter. Heart, happiness, health. After a difficult couple of years, I rediscovered all of those important things and myself, in this remarkable city that is gentle and vibrant, charming and beguiling.
Lisbon’s beauty takes on all shades of wonder, intrigue, architecture and history from the ground and is famed for its many hilltop viewpoints. It was a treat to explore by foot, tram and tuk-tuk – through the eyes of the friendly and welcoming people that I met along the way. On occasion, I was content to voyeuristically observe Lisbon life from my Airbnb balcony, on others I took up a position at cozy cafes to warm from the chilly winter weather.
I spoke to strangers, made a couple of friends I stay in touch with and picked up a few essential Portuguese words. This was the immersive living I’d envisaged. I enjoyed long lunches with chilled white wine in restaurants I discovered on lists and in guidebooks, walked the galleries of museums and lingered over art exhibitions. I took time to listen to Fado music and learn more about its origins.
Down the road from where I was staying, I visited the Museu do Aljube museum that showcases Portugal under dictatorship and the country’s subsequent struggle for freedom and democracy with a collection of photographs taken in Lisbon’s Chiado neighborhood in 1974 at the height of the so-called Carnation Revolution. The iconic images on display spoke of a different era that Lisbonians are happy to leave behind.
Most mornings I had rye toast with avocado, freshly squeezed orange juice and at least two cappuccinos at the cafe downstairs from where I was staying. Planning my day, dividing it between the work I had to do, and the exploration I was hungry for.
Exploring Lisbon like a local, ‘living’ there like one of half a million residents was a great way to familiarise myself with this sensual Portuguese city. I had time, and going back with more.
Talking time, allow much at MAAT in trendy Belem. The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology is the new cultural centre for Lisbon, a museum where these three areas intertwine within a space of debate, discovery, critical thinking, and international dialogue. I sat and watched each film installation, being transported to places and thoughts that ranged from being lost at sea, to the very real refugee crisis and living on the streets.
On one of the days I took a trip across the river and the 25 de Abril Bridge with a tuk-tuk driver to see the Cristo Rei statue – you’d be forgiven to think it was Rio – as well as take a closer look at the residential Almada neighbourhood.
Don’t visit Lisbon without allowing full immersion into the very cool vibe of the LXFactory, a regenerated creative island that is home to fashion, publicity, communication, fine arts, architecture, music, and one of the best bookshops I’ve seen. Not to mention the incredible street art and side street cafes. See more here: http://www.lxfactory.com/ It’s Cape Town’s Biscuit Mill on wholesome vegan steroids.
Of course, there are some wonderful experiences offered by Airbnb and I booked a few, including a walking tour of the old city, that unlocked both old and new stories from the riverside city. For now, some of my pics.
Views across the city from the top of Elevador de Santa Justa. If you want to save the entrance fee, walk around the back and take in the views from the bridge.
The Rua Augusta Arch is a stone, triumphal arch-like, historical building and visitor attraction in Lisbon, Portugal, on the Praça do Comércio. It was built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake.
The Bairro Alto tram which is one of the most instagrammable spots in the city.
The Church of Santa Engrácia is a 17th-century monument in Lisbon.
The Vasco da Gama Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge flanked by viaducts and range views that spans the Tagus River in Parque das Nações in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. It is the longest bridge in Europe (including viaducts), with a total length of 12.3 kilometres.
Old Buildings on the street as captured as I walked.
Trees, beacons and commemorative statues.
Touring the city with my Mon Ami Tuk Tuk guide Oaoji, which I did on two of the days to get up to all the viewpoints, across the bridge, and into outlying suburbs.
Known as the “City of Seven Hills”, on top of each hill, there are viewpoints or “miradouros” that offer breathtaking Lisbon views.
Ginjinha or simply Ginja, is a portuguese liqueur made by infusing ginja berries in alcohol and adding sugar together with other ingredients. It is served in a shot form with a piece of the fruit in the bottom of the cup as a typical drink on the streets of the old parts of town.
The MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, which opened its doors to the public on 5 October. Presenting itself as a new cultural centre in the city of Lisbon, the MAAT represents an ambition to host national and international exhibitions with contributions by contemporary artists, architects and thinkers.
Built to resemble the shape of a caravel, the massive, angular Monument to the Discoveries is a prominent feature of the Belem waterfront.
Signage and Street art.
The street to live on.
Military Museum in Belem
Take a look at my Lisbon, Portugal In Pics, read My First Lisbon Riverview Airbnb Apartment for more info and details of how and where I booked my flights and accommodation, and be inspired to learn more from my Lisbon, Portugal. Street Art post. To book a Tuk-Tuk tour see Tuk Tuk Me Away. Can’t wait to get back there.