As a full-time travel writer, I’m fortunate enough to regularly find myself in beautiful destinations that teach me about the world that we live in. My life is deeply enriched by each experience, yet I cannot deny that some places settle in my heart more than others. Currently holding top spot is Lisbon that I’ve just visited for the second time this year.
Long drawn to see the city, on both occasions I bought a ticket with TAAG Angola Airlines, booked an apartment with Airbnb in a well-located area – the first time for ten days in historic Alfama, and then two weeks in more residential Santos, and arrived with no plans other than to immerse myself into local living. Which is exactly what I did.
Lisbon as Portugal’s hilly, coastal capital city sits on the Tagus River with the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge linking its banks. Its beauty takes on all shades of wonder, intrigue, architecture and history and it is famed for its many viewpoints, the most impressive being from São Jorge Castle.
Among the attractions are the National Azulejo Museum displaying five centuries of decorative ceramic tiles. In trendy Belem, the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) is where these three areas intertwine within a space of debate and dialogue. I took time to listen to Fado music and learn more about its origins, visited the Museu do Aljube that showcases Portugal under dictatorship and the country’s subsequent struggle for freedom and democracy, spent time in the Maritime Museum and lingered in all of the art galleries.
On one of the days I took a trip across the river to see the Cristo Rei statue – you’d be forgiven for thinking it was Rio – as well as a closer look at residential Almada. A day trip to nearby Sintra introduced me to the charming royal sanctuary resort town on the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains. I spent much time at the LX Factory, a regenerated creative island that is home to fashion, food, fine arts, music, and one of the best bookshops I’ve seen.
I walked for hours to familiarise myself with the lay of the land, seeking out the best examples of alcada portuguesa pavements and photographing street art. I lingered in restaurants and cafes, shopped at local markets and ate as many pasteis de nata as possible.
Besides the walking, exploration was by tram and tuk-tuk and through the eyes of the welcoming people I met along the way. I’m already planning my return trip for more, and could quite easily join the half a million lucky ones who get to call Lisboa home.