We’re starting a new section in which people that we know tell us about places where they have been spending a few days, or even longer spells.
Our first guests are Ana and María, two sisters who tell us about their holiday in lovely old Lisbon.
If you’ve got three days to spare and you don’t know what to do or where to go, we advise you to take a trip to Portugal (or to Lisbon, to be more precise), and for several reasons: for a start, you don’t need to take a plane – you can get there on a night train, which is always nice, at least for us. This is what we did:
Once you arrive in the neighbouring country, we recommend you to stay at Baixa House, where María treated us very nicely and explained all the city’s subtleties, as well as handing us beautiful maps and a lot of cards with very interesting addresses.
Here is the address of her blog: My Lisbon House, in which she explains carefully all you need to know about Lisbon, and more.
As for the apartments, they’re really nice – check these pictures and judge for yourself. The only con is that you might not want to leave the house. Greetings to María from here, and our heartfelt thanks for her generous hospitality!
First we decided to go to Belem, for which we jumped on a very cute wooden tramway. To us, Belem= ‘Natas’ – sure, those Gerónimo cakes are spectacular and deservingly popular, but the cherry topping of the area are truly those small cakes of Brie with cinnamon. Simply exquisite: a real success.
On our way back home, we stopped at that famous bridge called XXX, where we found a really nice second-hand-dealer who had very interesting things to tell us. Four steps later we had crossed the bridge and old decadent Lisbon had given way to modern Brooklyn – yes, derelict warehouses that have been squatted and turned into bars, shops, architectural studios, biological supermarkets…very interesting.
Once in central Lisbon, we feel tired and we need to refresh our throats with some vinho verde, so we take heed of our friend Pessoa, who invites us to a drink at his favourite bar: La Brasireira, with a beautiful decor.
And suddenly it’s time for dinner. What could be better than an old beer factory for tasting the famous Portuguese bacalhau Cervejaria Trindade (rua Nova da Trindade, 20c) is the name of the place: good, nice and cheap.
The following morning… surprise! Some pixies have left a small bag by the door with warm, freshly baked bread for breakfast. And if that wasn’t enough, in the fridge there’s also juice, cheese, yoghourt, cereals and other delicacies that fill us with joy and energy.
Today it’s time for museums and churches (as my sister says: ‘the entrance is free, and they’ve got chairs to sit on’).
First of all, an unmissable visit to the Museo Mude: a former bank turned-museum in which the traditional structure has been totally respected – as you follow the itinerary, you even pass through the old safe and the meeting rooms, all very curious. And watch out for Fernando Brizio, he might steal your heart!
Later on we went to the Castelho, walking up a very steep slope. Luckily the way is paved with churches and viewpoints to stop and rest for a while (comfortable shoes are strongly advised, and of course, no heels). As we arrive, we find a restaurant with a nice viewpoint. The place is almost a circus, it’s extremely charming and the views are great. We can’t say much about the food other than it looked really fabulous, as the place was really packed and we didn’t get to sample it.
As we tried to access San Antonio’s church (the saint who takes care of love affairs) in order to present him with a few ‘chines’ in exchange for a boyfriend, we arrived at home – no small feat, given that the two hours of the way up had turned into five minutes on our way down.
All that there was left to do was to buy a pack of beers and return home for a deserved rest. Out with those shoes!
As soon as we finished eating we resumed our tour. No time to be wasted on siestas when the sun is setting at five pm. We got on the Bica train that goes up to the Barrio Alto. The tramway itself is an attraction. As it goes up climbing, you can glimpse the Tajo behind the rooftops of the sloped little houses. Gorgeous! Once we were up there, we enjoyed the breathtaking views from Mirador de Santa Catalina, surrounded by locals relaxing at dusk and having a quiet beer. No such luck for us, dedicated tourists who only had a quick look since it was already getting dark.
The Barrio Alto and the Chiado are full of temptations; there are all sorts of stores (our favourites are always the ironmongers’ and the drugstores), bars and cafés. But we managed to get to San Roque’s church, another example of Portuguese Baroque style that reminds us, just like the Jerónimos, of the splendour of Portugal during the colonial period.
After this paradinha we resume our journey with a stop at the Mirador de Graça, where another tramway takes us to the Príncipe Real square, with its hundred-year old trees. The views are supposed to be great from here, but the night had been faster than us. So we took it easy and stopped for a beer at the Café Chino. An amazing place, with the most diverse array of collections on display (from lead soldiers to little black men).
And after some provisioning, a bit of shopping. The best stores: Vida Portuguesa, Vistalegre….
A Vida Portuguesa
A Vida Portuguesa
Our last day in Lisbon has arrived. First, the customary shopping: tablecloths, dishcloths and all sorts of textile items in Portuguese cotton. The best ones are the shops on our street, where you can also get tablecloth fabric by the metre (if you’re crafty enough). And if you want to customize your tablecloth, there are dozens of haberdashers’ in which you can find all sorts of threads, flounces, embroidered strips… you name it. Enough to spend the whole morning!
But make room for a stop at Catalina’s perfume shop, which will transport you to another era. We must still cross the river Tajo. There are ferries every 20 minutes, and you can pay the fare using the same transport card that applies for the underground, the buses and the tramways – very handy!
This is a city worth visiting. We strongly encourage you to do it.