Lisbon City Guide:16 October 2017
Lisbon was one of the top cities I wanted to visit even before I got to Europe. The warm weather and colors, the ocean, the old world quality, and the low-key quality of the city very much enticed me. Portuguese people are kind, welcoming, and forgiving of our lack of Portuguese vocabulary. Locals hang linens on their balcony to dry, sit for hours at the beach, and have some of the best and freshest seafood (this is coming from someone who typically swears off any type of fish).
My friend Mel and I quickly decided to plan a trip to the Portuguese capital. With cheap flights from Paris Orly to Lisbon and all the options on Airbnb, we were able to keep travel + accommodations under $200 per person.
We arrived to the city on Thursday night, and after arriving to our Airbnb, we ventured out to get some food and chose a very typical Portuguese restaurant to have an “authentic” experience. Even when we were walking around our neighborhood post-dinner, we were already announcing our love for the city. I especially loved it because of the charming quality of all the little streets and stairways, but mostly because of all the cute lil stray kitties that I chased around (much to Mel’s dismay).
Our airbnb was situated right above the lovely Heim Cafe, and I was v happy to realize that when I looked at my meticulously planned Google Map. I was even MORE happy to look at the prices on the menu. €2.20 for an iced latte, €4 for avocado toast, €4 for french toast….I could have lived there forever. I’m lucky if I get a Paris iced latte for less than €5, and I can never find avocado toast for less than €8. If you go to Lisbon for one reason and one reason only, have it be for the inexpensive specialty coffee and avocado toast because I KNOW everyone is a basic white girl at heart.
The peak of happiness was when we finally ventured out to the city and realized everything else was inexpensive (in relation to Paris/any other city). Pastel de nata for €1, a lot of gelato for €2, a big portion of noodles for €8. Kinda the best. Speaking of pastel de nata and a big portion of noodles: Time Out Market! I’m sure most of you are familiar with the publication Time Out, and Lisbon is home to a wonderful food market curated by said magazine. I don’t use the word curated because it is a buzz word in terms of instagram and anything else slightly **aesthetic**, but the Time Out Market really is curated. They’ve meticulously chosen the best restaurants in Lisbon to have stalls in one building right by the water. Whether you go for lunch or dinner, make sure you get the €1 pastel de natas because they are a goddamn experience. More than that, plan your days accordingly so that you will be near Time Out Market a few times a day and you will always have an excuse to eat them.
Another good way to spend €1 is at the Sexiest WC on Earth in the Comercio Square. €1 gets you entry to a super nice bathroom with a wall of different colored toilet paper for your choosing. Take it a step farther and coordinate your toilet paper choice with your outfit. Sounds trivial, but so worth the laugh.
Barrio Do Avillez is the ideal spot for lunch. After wandering aimlessly for a few hours, make sure to stumble upon this restaurant. If you’re with a friend or two, split the small plates! Mel and I got beef croquettes, grilled lettuce and pear salad, and cod + roasted potatoes with chorizo crumble on top. The dishes we had were all divine, and if I was better at articulating the taste of food, I would do so. The restaurant itself is meticulously designed with ceramic sea creatures hanging from the ceiling and white subway tiles coating the walls (okay that description sounded nicer in my head and not like a cliche seafood restaurant in Florida). Once you’re done, take the 15 minute walk to west Nannarella to get THE BEST strawberry gelato (I got strawberry + lemon and Mel got strawberry + coconut which she raved about). Along the way, you will see some stunning views of the city rooftops, and, if you’re lucky, make friends with some cats in a nearby park.
We got drinks at the appropriately named Park Bar, which is on the roof of a parking garage, to watch the sunset. This was a great idea in theory, but naturally, it is a popular spot and very busy so a bit hard to watch the sunset in a peaceful manner on a Friday night.
Our second and last day was spent in the little beach town of Cascais. Just 30 minutes and €2 on the metro takes you right into the town. I saw an image of the Santa Marta Beach on instagram and made sure that we took the time to visit, because it looked so beautiful and otherworldly. The beach is about a 15 minute walk from the train station, and is perfect -- not only because of the crystal water and rocky cliffs, but because it is very isolated. All of the main beaches in Cascais are typical and filled with a lot of people, but at Santa Marta, we had it to ourselves for most of the time.
Even though I am not an avid beach-goer and haven’t had a tropical vacation since I was a kid, I was very happy to spend the day laying my pale-ass body in the warm sun (I’m also severely vitamin D deficient, so I convinced myself that a morning + afternoon in the hot sun would cure that). I was disappointed that my suntan-resistant skin wasn’t golden by the end of the day, but whatever.
If I had it my way, we would have spent the week exploring all of Portugal and spending hours on terraces people-watching whilst drinking chilled wine. Nevertheless, this little weekend getaway was really lovely and I can’t recommend this city enough. Throughout our entire trip, I had lyrics from the song No One Else from Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 stuck in my head: “This winter sky/How can anyone sleep?/There was never such a night before!/I feel like putting my arms round my knees/And squeezing as tight as possible/And flying away/Like this…”
While these lyrics describing the absolute heart wrenching euphoria of being in love have been floating in my head for most of my time in Paris, I felt them especially in Lisbon. My body is full of light and excitement for my love of many, many cities, and I feel as if the world is inside of me.
So glad to share these illustrations and this post with you all. As always, thank you for sticking with me.
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