lovetomtom went to Lisbon
You probably already know I had a summer break in the fabulous city of Lisbon. The fact that I described it as ‘fabulous’ kind of gives it away but if you haven’t already guessed, I loved this city!
Usually before I go anywhere, I like to do a bit of research, find out what there is to see and do but life has been rather busy and I did none of that. Instead I was packing at 12pm the night before a 4am start the next day. All I knew about Lisbon was that it was sunny, hot and there were these things called Pastel de nata which I knew I would be eating a lot of.
Let’s just put it out there now, Lisbon has some crazy steep hills! Not a deal breaker or anything but with the heat and the tiny, slippery tiles that pave these amazing hills, walking soon became an entertaining challenge. Luckily, public transport is cheap so if your calf muscles are crying out for a break, this is a great alternative. The metro system is easy to navigate and the trams give you some of the best views of the city.
A combination of walking and taking local trams is how Mr B and I explored the city. A city that has so much to offer and could explain the vast number of tourists that filled it’s tiled streets. There are positives and negatives to this and one positive is that I didn’t feel we stood out. Of course we looked like tourists (Mr B’s Irish complexion kind of gives it away) and it goes without saying that in any city, whether you are a local or a tourist, you have to use a bit of common sense when out and about. But because there were so many tourists I felt comfortable enough to have my camera and map in hand without being ogled at. That brings me to the locals. We found everyone to be very helpful, friendly, welcoming and by the third day in what we claimed to be our local bakery, we were greeted by the staff in a way that suggested we had been going there for years!
I’m surprised it has taken me this long to get to it but a highlight of the trip were the famous Pastel de nata. I ate one of these heavenly custard tarts every chance I got! Mr B, with the help of the Lonely Planet guide book informed me that I wasn’t the only one enjoying these traditional Portuguese tarts. Apparently, in Belém where they originated from, there is one bakery alone making around fifteen thousand a day! Fifteen thousand a day, in one bakery! Clearly there is something special about these. Not keen on tarts (do such people exist)? Don’t worry, you won’t go hungry. We found all the food to be good, especially if you like fish and it didn’t cost much to fill our bellies. I find it takes a bit of courage sometimes to walk into a place that doesn’t have an English menu, or a menu at all for that matter but these are usually the best and that was definitely the case here. Being vegetarian, I often had to ask if there was anything for me to eat and in one place that had no vegetarian option, I was offered an alternative meal which consisted of a cheese omelette, vegetables and salad. Plenty really when we usually started a meal with olives, bread and cheese. Sticking with meal time, and not to sound like a complete lush, but like the food, alcohol was also very cheap. Cheap, tasty and generous! Generous in the sense that three parts gin and one part tonic seemed to be the standard rule of thumb. Whether it was a gin and tonic, sangria or mojitos, one seemed like two and a quest to get to one of the best views of the city was met with one of the best mojitos I’ve had in my life! Well worth the climb, I mean walk.
Other highlights included an eccentric flea market we found ourselves in. We could have spent all day there, not only because of its size but because of all the characters in it!
We also took the train to Sintra, a town west of Lisbon and this is where travelling in summer can be a bit of a pain. There were so many people there, clearly doing the same thing as us but once we got past the queues, we battled the hills and explored Quinta da Regaleira which was well worth it. This is only just one thing to see and do in Sintra but it was enough for us.
I’ve lots more to show you so stay tuned for part II where I show you one of my favourite things about Lisbon, besides the tarts of course!