Brace yourself; this is about to be a long blog post, but I couldn’t give anything less to the amazing city of Lisbon, Portugal. Being the capital of Portugal, it is the largest city and still somewhat touristy, but the perfect size to not be overwhelming or crowded. It’s a relaxing get away with so much to see and do. The people of Lisbon are beyond wonderful, and it’s very convenient that most of the locals know English. In many touristy cities over here, especially my wonderful Barcelona, being an American and being a tourist doesn’t always result in the most kindness or understanding. Lisbon is for sure the nicest, most hospitable city I have visited. Whether it is street vendors, wait staff or tour guides of some sort, they will make sure your visit is worth it. Lisbon, Portugal has definitely stolen part of my heart after this past weekend.
Our first day in the city, we decided to somehow find our way up a huge hill in the city to some incredible views. Unfortunately yet fortunately, all of the city trams had hour long waits just to get up the hill. This might be one of my biggest tips if you ever visit Lisbon: TAKE A TUK TUK. These are crazy little motorized cars that you will see all over the city and the drivers are constantly wanting to sell people rides(similar to a taxi but way cuter and more fun). Incredibly worth the bumpy ride. After being pestered four different times by the same driver, we decided to take his tuk tuk up the hill. Our tuk tuk was cheap and quick, and our driver got out at the end to point out some of the major buildings and tell us about the history of the views we were looking at. Tuk tuk drivers are the best tour guides around Lisbon!!
We were able to jump on a tram, all of which are very famous throughout Lisbon and cover most of the city, and head down the hill into the area of Alfama. Alfama is known for the views of its buildings all over the coast line, and they 100% did not let down. We even met our great friend Kevin from Senegal who was selling artwork and jewelry on the street. After talking with him for a while, he gifted us with elephant bracelets made in Senegal that symbolize lifelong luck and happiness. Not sure if it was the bracelets or just Lisbon being great, but we ended up having a lot of luck the rest of the trip.
Day two was the best day ever. We woke up early to jump on a boat tour that went down the coast and underneath a huge bridge that is nearly identical to the Golden Gate(both made by the same guy, go figure).
Once we got past the bridge, we got off in an area called Belem and spent the day on a bus tour and exploring the little coastal area. There were immaculate homes in some of the neighborhoods where many embassies live and a downtown center full of beautiful, old buildings. The palace of the Portugal royal family was also in this area! We went into a famous bakery called Pasteis de Belem, where we tried a traditional Portuguese dessert, pastel de nata, which are custard tarts and absolutely life changing.
The boat ride to Belem was great and all, but the boat ride back was probably one of the peaks of our weekend trip. If ever visiting Lisbon, definitely take a Yellow Boat Tour and maybe you’ll have the same luck we did! One of the crew members asked at the beginning if we wanted to go up with the captain(not really sure why we were the only ones asked but I’m assuming being three American girls has something to do with it hahaha). We expected a few pictures and then to come down, but instead we stayed up there with the crew and captain for the rest of the ride. We essentially drove the boat full of tourists back to the port in Lisbon, which I swear has to be some sort of liability issue, but the views were better and we got free beer from the crew so it was a big win-win for us!
Definitely not the minimal point on the trip, but the food we had everywhere in Lisbon was great. Seafood is a specialty, given that they are on the coastline, but they also have other great beef and pork. We found in Belem that there are tons of these little food/drink trucks popping up everywhere in Lisbon. They all sell different things ranging from ice cream to baked goods to cocktails and even sandwiches, but everything we tried from them was fantastic!
Lisbon is now my favorite city I have visited while in Europe(Barca is still #1 in my heart, don’t worry). Whether it was the food, the people, the views or a combination of them all, I can say that I would suggest everyone visit this amazing city at least once in your lifetime. I’ve already decided that my next language to learn has got to be Portuguese!
I couldn’t end the Lisbon post without giving a special shout out to our favorite Brits that we met along the way. Our last night and last day in Lisbon would not have been as memorable as it was if we hadn’t met you guys! Cheers, Brexit.