So me and my chicas (Spanish for “girls”) made the decision to go for a weekend break to Lisbon to escape the big city just for a little while. Living in Madrid, Portugal is not too much of a stretch to get to, but the few viable options are bus (8hr journey for aprox. €25) blablacar (6hr for €40) or a plane (1hr for €45). We opted to take the plane to save time on travel during a busy exam period at our university.
When we arrived in Lisbon it was already dark in the city, so we took a taxi to our quaint airbnb, which turned out to be within the great castle walls, to drop off our bags and freshen up and then pop out for some dinner. We found a lovely restaurant just 10 minutes away from our place and settled down for traditional Portuguese cuisine, including delicious salmon, octopus and pasta.
The next day was when I believe we all fell in love with Lisbon, strolling outside of our castle walls like unworldly princesses, our eyes fell upon the stunning view that was Portas do Sol. Palm trees, ocean and old houses stretched out in front of us as we breathed in the crisp sea-air. We took one of the old rickety trams down to the city centre, which I must say as pretty as they are to look at, I wouldn’t recommend taking one unless you wish to pay €2.85 for a very short journey where you will be squished amongst strangers like a sardine and thrown around the twisting roads until you feel rather weak at the knees.
Once we got to the centre, we went for a stroll around the Praca da Figueira square until our bellies began to rumble and we settled down for a late breakfast at the most wonderful brunch place ever fittingly called “Brunch Cafe” (we even went back for a second time on our short trip!). As a vegetarian, I struggle finding good brunch places in Madrid, and being British I also have difficulty finding proper tea, but this place had it all! Me and my other vegetarian friend settled for a huge Mexican breakfast consisting of tortillas, eggs, avocado, tomatoes, black beans and a good old cup of tea. We also were able to draw during our time waiting for our food to arrive, which was a lovely touch, plus our pictures are now on the wall for everyone to see! The waiter was also incredibly accommodating and recommended somewhere to go for a good night out, somewhere called “pink street.”
After we finished our delicious brunch, we continued on with our days, with no plans in our heads, we simply let the streets lead us to where they may. This happened to be a stunning cathedral with the most incredible architecture (well, what can I say, the whole of Lisbon has stunning aesthetics). Outside this cathedral, we saw many tuk-tuks lined up outside offering tours and since we were there for such a short time and definitely did not want to opt for the tourist buses, we thought “why not” and the four of us jumped onto a tiny tuk-tuk and what a wonderful decision it was! We were taken to Miradoura da Senhora do Monte, through the thieves market (which we ended up going back to later and buying all sorts of interesting stuff), The Cloister of Jeronimos Monarchy, Jardim Botanico Tropical and the Tower of Belém all in the warmth of the shining autumn sunshine. Our driver even treated us to the traditional Portuguese tart called Pastel de Nata from the famous Pastéis de Belém, which is like an egg custard served with cinnamon and icing sugar, and the joy of a tuk-tuk is that we could jump on and off whenever we pleased.
We did indeed end up experiencing pink street to it’s full, it’s literally a street painted shocking bright pink, by popping into a tiny ‘hole in the wall’ type bar and getting to know the bar’s owner and his friends who happened to be drinking in the bar too, we tried some delicious cocktails for a reasonable price (€4) and even ended up pouring some drinks ourselves to show the owner how much (or rather how little!) alcohol Swedish and British bars pour for one mixer or cocktail, around half the amount of the Portuguese, so there’s no doubt you will get your money’s worth! After chatting to some people in this small stand-up bar, we discovered they were flight attendants pre-drinking before a ‘flight attendant party’ at a club called “Place,” which we danced in until around 6am to Spanish, Portuguese and English music with flight attendants dancing up on stage! Brilliant!
On our last day, due to it being a rainy day and me and Jennifer being tired from our late night out, we simply went to different shops in the centre and found a lovely winery and spent our afternoon drinking red wine and eating cheese and in the late evening we braved the pouring rain to go out to a lovely little restaurant just five minutes down the cobbled roads where we had the Portuguese equivalent of “tapas” trying many different dishes, which were simply just delicious!
One thing I must point out is the Portuguese people are just so incredibly friendly and I felt at home in this new city straight away, I certainly can say that I will be going back in the future and I would 100% recommend Lisbon to anyone for a relaxing, food and drink orientated weekend break.