Last week I was lucky enough to meet one of my best friends in Lisbon, Portugal. Neither of us had been, and she was heading over to Braga for a work conference. Given how close she would be to Zurich, it would have been a shame to not take her up on the invite, and we had 5 nights planned to spend in Lisbon together.
I had rented an apartment through AirBnB within Chiado, one of the more popular districts in the city. The drive from the airport was flat until we got closer to the water – then we were up and down cobblestone streets that were paved over the hills that make up Lisbon. The width of the street the apartment was on barely fit a Mini Cooper. Clothing hung from lines outside apartment windows three levels up and chatter could be heard from the outdoor seating of local restaurants.
My friend and I arrived late on Thursday so we didn’t do much except walk to the local square for a bottle of wine and some snacks. For 3 of us it was 27 Euros. I hadn’t seen prices that cheap since I could last remember.
Friday morning found us up at a reasonable hour – mostly because there was construction right across the street! We knew we wanted to try out a Sandeman’s walking tour in order see the city and learn a bit more about Lisbon. It ended up being a great idea because we got a sense for the city and learned all of the fun tidbits about Lisbon to go along with it.
Where the revolution happened in 1974
Luiz de Camoes – famous Portuguese poet
Crack in the church due to earthquake
Not only did we learn some interesting tidbits, but the city is GORGEOUS. The sun was shining and there was a cool breeze off the bay that made for the perfect weather. The city is also extremely hilly, even more so than Zurich is, so we definitely got a workout in while we learned about Lisbon.
A few fun facts that we took away:
- In 1755 there was a massive earthquake that triggered a tidal wave that destroyed the city. The king at the time was so freaked out that he lived in a tent the rest of his days and commissioned his BFF to rebuild the city.
- Chiado was the famous literary part of town. There was an author named Fernando Pessoa who was so schizophrenic that he had 137 different characters he wrote books as.
- The 1974 revolution was actual done in a very peaceful manner. Only 2 shots were fired and they were both warning shots.
- The world’s oldest still-operating book store is right in Chiado. It was a good opportunity to buy Harry Potter in Portuguese.
- There are tons of buildings covered with tiles. The tiles that are of geometric design stem from the Moors where they were religiously forbidden from drawing anything from nature.
That night found us in the youthful part of town, thanks to the recommendation of our college student tour guide. We wandered around with our sangria, just marveling at the tile and carefully watching where we stepped – up and down cobblestone hills with some adult beverages does not always equal a safe time.
Saturday we headed over to the famous flea market Feira da Ladra to do some shopping. It was a sea of vendors, all selling really interesting things. I was able to purchase some porcelain swallows (the bird) to hang in the house and a lovely, made in Portugal espresso cup/saucer set. Total price? 35 euros, BOOM!
I was told by the person who sold me the swallows that they are good luck – every year they migrate from Africa to Lisbon and bring luck to the city. Whether or not it’s true, the birds are darling and I wanted to bring some luck to my own home.
The next two days were spent at the beach getting some sun – and sun we did get! I did the most horrific job of applying sunscreen in the history of the world. I have the weirdest white spots across my body, and the sun was incredibly powerful.
However, it was totally worth it. We were in Cascais the first day and hung out on the main beach – the water was really cold but perfect to dip in to cool myself down.
The second day we went a bit further past Cascais to Praia do Guincho, a gorgeous beach where the wind was almost as high as the waves. This was where the surfers came and the majority of tourists didn’t know about. We were more secluded here, and took in some awesome kite surfing views.
We spent our last night back in the youthful part of town, sharing our favorite stories from the trip and sipping some Rose wine.
I enjoyed Lisbon so much that I would jump at the chance to return. It is such a special and unique place, well worth a second look.
Vá e divirta-se! Obrigada!