Right away, I wish I’d decided (and researched more) to spend more time in Lisbon and not as much in Spain. Spain was beautiful, but as a tourist, I found it less friendly and easy to navigate than I’d hoped.
Lisbon is just wonderful. It is a big city, with Train, Metro, Bus and Trolleys, if you don’t feel like walking the seven hills. Public transit is easy to navigate, with English options on the kiosks. But I recommend walking. It’s charming, with interesting little alleyways and small cobblestone streets. The people are so friendly.
When I arrived, my flight from Madrid landed late, so I did uber to my AirBnB, just so I didn’t keep my host up till after midnight. The I had a hard time finding the uber driver at the airport, so I called him. He answered with a Ola! But I soon realized he spoke English. Once I found him and got in the car, I said a few things in Spanish, and he said “I don’t speak Spanish” I was confused. And, a little embarrassed. To be honest, I added Portugal to this trip because I’d heard good things about it, and because of the proximity. It was an add-on to Spain, before I flew to Germany. I realized I had wrongly assumed they spoke Spanish here too!
My AirBnB was a small private apartment, downstairs from my host. The uber driver could not drive down the narrow steep street, which made me smile, and immediately fall in love with the location. I walked down, climbed in through the doorway which was more like a window, and met my host, who let me in, gave me the key, and left me to crash.
The back patio has a dog, who lives there full time. He never comes inside, apparently. He’s sweet, quiet and seems to like his life under the lemon tree.
I set out In the morning to explore Lisbon. I skipped going for a run, knowing how hilly this city is. I first walked down to the main, stopping at a small coffee shop in my neighborhood, for a coffee and pastry. One of the must-try pastries here – and there are many – are the Nata pastries. They are so good, and I sampled many!
For lunch I stopped at Faz Figura, which was a little more high end than I was looking for, but it was close and I was hungry. I’d probably recommend it for dinner more than lunch. I loved the breads and the mussels I had. The breads here are so good, sweet, soft, and such variety.
Lisbon is a great city to just wander with no plan, so that’s what I did. I had my fill of grand old catholic churches in Spain, so I decided if I was going to see any of the “must see” sites, I wanted to see the old Castle Jorge. It is no longer a residence or in use, but it’s still a beautiful property to explore for an hour.
I walked around Chiado and Baixa neighborhoods. There were so many cute shops and restaurants. I then wandered back to my Airbnb, to get ready for my first Airbnb experience. I was getting tired of my boring photos with landscapes, and I am not a selfie-taker, so I scheduled myself a photo shoot! For a few euro, I was able to meet a local photographer, who would spend time showing me some scenic spots, and taking a few pictures for me to remember my vacation.
After my photo shoot, I found a place on the edge of the Barrio Alto – Meson Andaluz, The friendly owner greeted me and showed me a nice table in the corner, where I could see everything. The food was great, I realized how hungry I was when I ate the entire bread basket and then a whole leg of Lamb.
I wandered back to my Airbnb through the Barrio Alto. I bumped into a fun group of Americans from the company Talkdesk. They invited me to join them, and I didn’t. Later I kind of regretted not hanging out with them for a bit. It would have been fun to have some folks from home to chat with. And the neighborhood was full of fun buzzy bars and restaurants, it seemed to be a nice mix of locals and visitors.
Sadly, I had to leave Lisbon. So far, I think it is my favorite of any European cities I have visited.
I booked a train to Porto, and even that was a breeze. Unilke Renfe in Spain, Portugal’s railway – CP – has a friendly easy to use app, that takes US credit cards! My ticket was electronic, on my phone (no stress about printing!) and the booking process was a breeze. The metro getting from Lisbon city center to the main train station was also very easy. I’m just loving Portugal. Looking forward to the next stop!