First time visit to Portugal, Lisbon/Lisboa!
First trip of 2016 and especially right after winter, I needed some sunshine and vitamin sea. I had about 1 week and was feeling adventurous and wanted to see something new. Portugal was the ovbious choice for these reasons: new destination, adventure, culture, nearby, budgetfriendly! I had roughly 8 days, so I needed to plan this right in order to do what I wanted to do. I made sure I didn’t push it too much so I had time to actual relax. First part of the trip was Lisbon and it’s surroundings!
It’s been a while since I’ve been on couchsurfing so for this trip I tried to look for a host to show me around and to hang around with. That’s how I ended up at Fabio’s place. He’s been on couchsurfing for a few months and has hosted a couple of people every month since then. As I arrived on saturday night, we were able to walk around downtown a bit on sunday already and go visit some of the sights. The weather was sunny and pretty warm already for this time a year. He showed me how to take the train downtown and we made our way to Belèm. First stop was to visit and get some of the infamous Pasteis de Belèm in the area. A must touristic stop and it showed. The place was packed with tourists but the queue wasn’t that bad at all. The Pasteis were crunchy and fresh from the oven, but sadly Fabio didn’t feel like eating so all 6 of them were for me! Anyhow, we made our way to the sights in the area such as the Jerónimos Monastery. The monastary was just being renovated and access to the gardens were closed at the time we arrived. The main entrance was amazing as expected. The level of detail on the sculptures and decorations were superb. It’s a pity we didn’t get to see the inside. Afterwards we just crossed the road and headed towards the water for the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. One of the most famous landmarks in Lisbon located on the banks of the River Tagus. It was quite amazing to see it in person, but nothing you wouldn’t notice if you saw it on a picture. (I know, I’m not really selling it). We stopped for a bit and walked a bit further down towards Belém Tower. I liked this place a bit more as it was surrounded by water and it has more charm to it I felt. Maybe because it was surrounded by water or maybe that it was less polished than Padrão dos Descobrimentos, it just felt more appealing to me. At this point we made our way back towards the start and back home. Passed under the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and took some pictures there as well. By this time we pretty much walked all afternoon and decided to head back. Fabio has to get back to work the next day and so I planned my next couple of days accordingly.
Free walking tour
I’m a big fan of free walking tours as I did some of the on my other travels (Poland). I joined the 3PM, so I had some extra time to walk around before that. It was during this free walking tour that I met Christophe and Marion. Coincedently Christoph is also from Belgium and to top it off they’re cool people too. The tour took us through Rossio, Chiado, Baixa and finally ending at Alfama. It was a really interesting tour with tons of history and information on the neighbourhoods.
After the tour I went up to Castelo de S. Jorge with Christophe and Marion and finally ending up Rua das Portas de Santo Antão. Apparently a popular strip for some delicious seafood. I’ve told them my plans to visit Sintra the next day and we made plans the next day to meet up there. I’ll discuss Sintra in a separate posts here. After Sintra, I had one full day left before I had to go to Peniche. Christophe and Marion also had a full a day left before they had to catch the plane back the next day. So they suggested I spend stay in thair Airbnb that night so we could check out the nightlife together around Bairro Alto. During the day we just took it easy and walk around familiar places again. We revisited Alfama and went up some of the viewpoints from before. We also went up to visit Cristo Rei on the other side of the water to get a great view. We just took it easy during the day as the hills were killing my legs and all the walking took its toll. But mainly to prepare ourselves for the “crazy” night life.
We backtracked some of the bars and areas we visited during the tour and check out a few live bars. We basically went from bar to bar until the bars closed. We eventually even made it down to Rua Nova do Carvalho (Pink street) where the majority of clubs were located. We stopped by some of the clubs but most of them were quite empty as it was the middle of the week. We ended up at another cozy lounge bar with some great r’nb classics mixed by the dj. It was a great night alltogether and had some great laughs as well. The next day we had some extra time before we had to say our goodbyes so we looked up what we could visit and came up with LX Factory. The place just reeked of hipster city to be honest. But it was also very artistic, down to earth and trendy. Graffiti decorate the streets and interiors of the buildings. At the top of the main building there was a huge area reserved for a co-working space and some of the remaining offices on the floor were occupied by model agencies. It seemed like an inspirational place to work at. If I ever got lucky enough to freelance, I would definately want to work in a place like that.
Anyhow, that also marks the end of my stay in Lisbon. It was short, but intense as you might have read by now. There’s tons of stuff to see and do in Lisbon but also very exhausting with all the hills and stairs. I do recommend taking 4-5 days to explore Lisbon at your own pace. I had a blast with Fabio and Christophe and Marion. Great memories were made along with great friends!
More Portugese adventures in Peniche and Sintra!