“Lisbon is often likened in guide-books to San Francisco, because of its streets that rise so dramatically from the waterfront, and Rome, because it is built on seven hills. In truth, there is, and surely never will be, any mistaking the Portuguese capital for anywhere else. So far from surrending its compelling character to the twenty-first century’s forces of homogeneity, the new prosperity has instead revived Lisbon’s justifiable pride in its distinctiveness.”
Martin Page, in The First Global Village: How Portugal Changed the World, p. 29
Day two in Lisbon was spent with a visit to the Mercado da Ribeira, near the port, and the Feira da Ladra, Lisbon’s main flea market, before heading out and exploring the neighbourhood around the Castle de São Jorge. After finding the restaurants that had been recommended to me closed again (I finally gave up looking for particular restaurants and just went for whatever looked ok), we took a tram to Chiado where we had lunch at Cervejaria Trindade, one of the oldest beer halls in Lisbon. At night we went for a nice Portuguese meal at Bairro Alto and walked around a bit to check the Christmas lights, which were really impressive.
Sunday was mostly spent in Belem, where we visited the Torre de Belem and the Mosteiro dos Jerônimos. All the attractions were free that day, as it is most sundays between 10 am and 2 pm. It was cold but we had beautiful blue sky, as you can see in some of the pictures:
We had planned to go to Sintra in our last day, monday, but we felt that we hadn’t seen enough of Lisbon. So we went back to some of the places we had passed by quickly (like Alfama, Graça and the northern part of Bairro Alto) and explored them more fully. Another nice sunny day!
To cap it off, we had our last meal in Lisbon at an Indian restaurant recommended by our friend Detlef, a Lisbon resident. It’s one of those places you would never think of going in but that has become quite an institution among those “in the know”. The restaurant is located on the first floor of a residential building just off Plaça da Figueira and it looks very simple and low-key but the food was amazing! Fitting end for the trip…
And here’s for my top five list about Lisbon:
- Pastéis de Belém at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém
- The uncanny light that baskes the city
- Drinking Ginginha at a Ginginha bar at the end of a cold day
- The incredible friendliness of Lisboeta, who haven’t been jaded by seeing their city overan by tourists in recent years and still go out of their way to point us in the right direction. An older man actually stopped us on the street to make sure we hadn’t miss ed the lookout at the end of the street.
- How much it taught me about my own roots