My trip to Lisbon has been short, but so bittersweet. The reality is that I really only had a full 24 hours to go sightseeing and the such. But regardless of what I did or did not see, I have to say that I now know why people fall in love with this city. The people are so friendly, and laid back. The city has a borderline sleepy feel to it, but just enough action to keep you moving.
Although my flight here landed at around 4:30 pm, I didn’t make it into the city until around 6:00 pm. And as much as I wanted to immediately go out and explore while it was bright out, my body just wasn’t having it. So I did a quick walk around my neighborhood for about a four block radius just to orientate myself. I also was in need of something to drink and some cigarettes.
As I did on my last trip to Europe, I decided to book an apartment through Wimdu.com. The total cost for a two night stay was $148, which to me is a great deal! I was located right in Bairro Alto and the Chiado area. The apartment was literally half a block away from Tram 28 which takes you on a touristic route of the city. The host of the apartment, Ana, was such a wonderful and graceful woman who spent almost an hour with me when she checked me in. She went over the city map in detail, showed me how to get to different areas, and answered any emails with my questions promptly throughout my stay. (The link on her name will take you directly to her listing on the site. I highly recommend it!)
I’m very lucky that the weather here was great! It was about 70 degrees throughout my stay and I never had to really use a jacket. I even got some color from walking around outside! Before I left the airport, I purchased a Lisboa Card, which gives you free and discounted access to some sights and also transportation.
On my second day, and after about 12 hours of sleep, I decided it was time to get off my ass and head out. Originally, I was going to do a walking tour, but I eventually I decided against it. I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t really leave the apartment until about 2pm but I strongly feel that the travel experience should never be rushed. Everyone who takes vacations has different ideas and itineraries. And even though I had a general idea of what I wanted to do and see, I always go by my gut instinct (and also my energy level.)
For lunch that day, I found a burger place that turned out to be pretty darned good! It was called Hamburgueria do Bairro. I know what you’re thinking. WHY would I be eating something so American like a burger of all things?! Well here are a few reasons:
- I really, REALLY love burgers! (I try to go to a different burger place in NYC once a week)
- I know it sounds weird, but I like the idea of possibly finding a place that does American food “good” (or any other kind of food thats not associated with that country) when I’m traveling.
- I was really hungry and didn’t feel like walking around trying to find something that I would like, and this place was two blocks away.
- I’m not a huge seafood eater. Don’t get me wrong, I like some of it but not all of it.
Okay so I sound like a crazy person right? I really wanted to sit down and have some great Portuguese food, and I will on my next trip here for sure! That’s how much I loved my experience here.
So back to the rest of my day. After having my burger, I headed to wait for Tram 28 so I could take it to the square where I though I would be meeting the tour guide. Nothing was officially booked as it was one of those tours where you just kind of show up. But being that I arrived about half hour early, I decided to take a walk down to the ocean. The smell of ocean air always does something to me being that I grew up in Hawai’i. No matter where in the world I am, it reminds me of home.
After mulling around the beach and soaking in some sun, I decided to head back up the hill to the square. Thats when I realized that I wanted to walk around and get lost. At first, I walked back down the route that the tram took me and stopped in random stores along the way checking things out. I eventually made it back to the apartment for a quick stop to check my phone and also a map. I had forgotten to grab it on the way out. After taking a look, I decided that I was going to down to see one of the monuments on the beach, the Discoveries Monument. Well, the only thing I discovered was that I went in the wrong direction! Not to worry though because I eventually realized in which direction I was going. I was back at the area of the beach from earlier.
At this point, I just kept walking. I got to the main square, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Elevador de Santa Justa. I was hoping to find these places and I did! I got my fix of pictures in, and as I was on the observation deck of the elevator, I saw the park that I passed on my way into the city with the giant flag that I was dying to photograph. I headed up the hill and finally made it to the park. It was quite a hike but worth it. By that point, the sun was going down and I decided to head back home. I was satisfied.
As I stated earlier, I really feel that traveling should be each and every individual’s own experience for them to keep for themselves, whether traveling alone or solo like me. (Seasoned solo travelers know what I’m talking about.) That being said, if you have the time to go off on your own, or if you’re traveling alone for the first time, just go with the flow and see where the day takes you. You might surprise yourself and discover things that other’s wont. Or observe things other than the touristic monuments that will make your experience unique.
One of the things that I loved about Lisbon, was the little stores all along the streets. I’m not talking about the souvenir shops or the major stores. I’m talking about the neighborhood places that you would randomly see while walking around. There would be a seamstress, or a small grocer. There were tiny little “cervezarias” or bars that were no larger than about an average living room where older men would be smoking cigarettes and playing backgammon. There would be little old ladies sitting outside of the fabric shops, and old men standing outside of the butcher shop, talking to their friends on the inside. These were the moments that defined what Lisbon was like for me. A metropolitan city to an extent, but at the end of the day, there was a familiar feel to being back home in Hawai’i. Neighbors know each other more than just neighbors. Hanging out at the store with the owner to talk and catch up because you’re friends, or maybe even family. It was welcoming, warm and a place that everyone should experience once in their lives.
I’m now preparing for my flight to Barcelona in the morning. I’ll be posting more during this trip and look forward to it! Make sure to check out my gallery of Lisbon photos here! Until next time, adeus!