Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and was our next destination after our time in the Algarve. It took about 3 hours on a train to get there. We arrived at the train station in Lisbon and took an Uber to our hotel. Instantly, I noticed that Lisbon is very hilly and has lots of buildings tucked together with tile on the outside. It made me want to explore and walk around. So, we dropped our bags off and headed to the Time Out Market to get dinner.
One thing Brennan and I have found we really love while traveling is to eat at food halls. There tend to be lots of different options, good food, and the social expectations of how to order are clearer than a lot of restaurants. We enjoyed looking around and exploring the neighborhood around the market (Barrio Alto) as we walked back toward the hotel.
The hotel we stayed at was called The Emerald House. It was unassuming from the outside, but had a beautiful lobby and restaurant area! I love the bold green bar and all the detail that went into making this area stand out. We ended up eating dinner here the second night and it was delicious too! Our room was nice (you'll have to take my word for it-I forgot to take pictures!) and very comfortable.
On our first full day, we scheduled a walking tour to get to know the city. We met up with our group at this plaza near our hotel. Nearly every sidewalk in Lisbon had tile like this. It's a mosaic and all the designs are from when the city was first rebuilt after an earthquake/tsunami/fire in the 1700s. The tiles on the buildings are influenced by Moorish people and are good insulation for when it's cool and keep the heat out when it's hot. I loved seeing all the different designs; they really give the city a unique look.
Because Lisbon is so hilly, there are lots of good lookout points. You can see a castle up on the other hill, as well as the river from the this plaza. We spent a lot of time in the valley between the hills. Lisbon is a tricky city to navigate because you are not only navigating left and right, but also up and down. In a lot of areas, it feels like things have been built on top of each other and there are narrow staircases. The tour guide told us there are lots of hidden elevators all over the city to help people get around more quickly.
This monastery was damaged as part of the earthquake in the 1700s. When they rebuilt the city, they left the roof off of it as a reminder/memorial for the people who died in the destruction. Now, they have plays and a museum here. The plaza pictured below the monastery is outside the national theater and was one of my favorite places we saw. The fountains were beautiful, it was interesting to be able to look up at part of the city, and there was lots of good people watching. I ended up sitting here one morning when Brennan slept in and read a book on a bench with a chai tea. It was amazing.
This area was called Santa Justa. It was the center of the touristy part of town and had lots of shops, restaurants, and bars all mixed together. At the end, was the Praca de Comercio, a huge plaza right near the river. We ended our tour there and headed back to the hotel for the rest of the evening.
The next day, we went to Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, which was right across the street from our hotel. We didn't know what to expect, but thought it would be nice to look around. The museum was so affordable, around $10 for both of us to get in! The most unique thing we saw were these cabinets. They were from palaces and showed Biblical stories through sculpture. Each one was so intricate and detailed!
After walking around the museum, we found this coffee shop, Copenhagen Coffee Lab, and grabbed lunch and drinks. We sat in a park and people watched while we ate lunch. We were right by a streetcar stop. This is one of the modes of public transportation in the city. They have a metro, streetcars, busses, and trains. Our tour guide also said elevators and outdoor escalators are part of the public transportation, because the city is so hilly.
We rode a scooter back to the hotel to get our bags. We had to walk up these 3 sets of stairs to get back to the hotel and they were not easy! I was surprised by how uneven and slippery the stairs were. We were thankful there was no rain-I can't imagine how slippery everything would be!
We switched hotels part way through our time in Lisbon, so for the second half of the trip, we stayed in the middle of Santa Justa. This meant we were really close to another Copenhagen Coffee Lab location, so we visited and got breakfast and coffee there every day. Their lattes, chai, and pastries were all amazing.
This was a church we went in that we walked by on our tour from the first day. The tour guide said it was worth visiting, so we went back and walked through. At one point, it was the most expensive church to build in Europe because of all the gold. Everything in the side areas was covered in gold! I also thought the painted ceiling was impressive. I love that you can see the wood planks and the perspective as you look at the mural.
On this evening, we wanted to find somewhere to hang out and enjoy the city. We found this plaza, close to the hotel. We had stopped back at the Time Out Market, because someone told us the best Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts) were from there. They were very good! We brought them with us and got drinks and hung out for awhile.
Lisbon is a relaxed city with a lot of sites to see and areas to hang out. We enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and friendly people while we visited. We had 2 more days where we went outside the center of the city after this-I'll write about them next!
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.