3 August 2014

Lisbon Visual Diary + Travel Guide




Three weeks back in the homeland and my visual diary + travel guide from a wonderful week in Portugal's capital city with the 'rents is finally ready to go live. Lisbon won me over with its monochrome cobbled streets, painstakingly tiled buildings, and lots and lots of delicious cuisine. Of course, it helped too that the sun beamed down upon us for the duration of the trip, enabling me to return home with a rather more bronzed complexion. Read on for my rookie guide to Lisbon and apologies in advance for the photograph overload - I couldn't help myself!




WHERE TO STAY

Our home for the week was a little apartment in Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon. It was a short walk away from the main bustle of the city and a cooling comfort to return to after wandering around in the heat all day - I'd definitely recommend checking it out if you're planning a trip to the city. 

I should also mention that our apartment was just a couple of minutes walk to the Tram 28 stop. Lisbon is famous for its bright yellow trams which criss-cross about the city - a must-do to get about if you fancy a break from walking!



WHAT TO DO

In my opinion, to properly experience Lisbon you need to allow yourself at least half a day to meander up and down the cobbled streets, exploring and soaking up the atmosphere. None of this cramming on a tour bus, shuttling from place to place lark!





The Museum of Design and Fashion (MUDE), Rua Augusta 24, is an interesting place to while away a couple of hours. The permanent exhibition on the ground floor is a timeline of fashion and design throughout the twentieth century and contains a number of lesser known design classics, in addition to the more familiar pieces.






Praça do Comércio was the original gateway to Lisbon. With its riverside location, mosaic cobbles and the magnificent Arco da Victória, it makes London's Trafalgar Square seem a little meagre in comparison. The World Cup was taking place during our stay and a big screen was set up in the square where locals and tourists alike would gather in the evenings to watch the matches.






Walking back to the apartment on our last night, we came across the most beautifully designed barbershop that I have ever seen. Figaros, Rua do Alecrim 39, is an old school barbershop that I'd urge you blokes to check out, and to report back to me if the service is as good as the decor has me imagine.



Besides the ubiquitous yellow trams, Lisbon also has an excellent network of trains, buses and the metro. Use this to your advantage when planning day trips about the city and the surrounding area as there are a number of different tickets on offer that allow you to hop on and off the various forms of public transport as you please.



The pretty town of Belém can be reached by bus, train or tram - we found the number 15 tram from Praça da Figueira was the easiest option. The Jerónimos Monastery is absolutely stunning but the main reason for our visit was to sample the original pastel de nata from Pastéis de Belém. Coupled with a mug of rich hot chocolate, it was truly delicious.

For the arty folk among you, the Museo BerardoPraça do Império, contains a spectacular collection of contemporary paintings and sculptures, with works by Picasso, Mondrian, Warhol and Bacon to name a few.





If time allows, reserve two days for visiting Sintra, a picturesque town approximately 30km north-west of Lisbon. One day we spent in the town itself, and the second we devoted to the nearby beaches. Take the quarter-hourly train from Rossio and turn left out of the station on arrival, heading towards the historic centre. You'll come across Sapa, Volta Duche 12, a patisserie famous for its queijadas (small caramelised cheesecakes perfect for those with a very sweet tooth). They also do rather tasty savoury tarts and foccacia-style bread with chorizo.







Palácio Nacional da Pena is a 50 minute walk from the town centre (or you can hop on one of the many buses) and has the most stunning views across the town and beyond. Although the palace's interior wasn't particularly momentous, the vast expanse of botanical gardens are well worth a visit.




Returning to Sintra the following day, we turned right outside of the station and took the public bus to Cabo da Roca, the most western point of Europe. From there, we walked along the coastal path towards Praia da Ursa, before hopping back on the bus to Almoçageme where we walked to Praia da Adraga. Despite having to walk in the scorching heat, these stunning beaches are well worth the visit and (I'm told) much quieter than those at Cascais and Estorial.





WHERE TO EAT

Casa Brasileira, Rua Augusta 267, is an excellent choice for breakfast. Grab a table or stand and eat at the counter, where the copious amounts of tempting pastries on display will leave you consuming rather more than you first intended.

Confeitaria Nacional, Praça da Figueira 18B, is a beautiful old fashioned pastry shop which also does the most fantastic toast - pão torrado if you want to order it for yourself.



Nova Pombalina, Rua do Comércio 2, is a winning choice for lunch. The suckling pig sandwiches are their speciality, alongside a number of fresh fruit juices - try the ginger and pineapple!



Café Lisboa, Largo de São Carlos 23, is my favourite restaurant of the ones that we dined at. It's also rather spectacular to look at - located inside the São Carlos National Theatre. I had one of the best steaks I have ever eaten, served up medium-rare with portobello mushrooms. Their signature cocktail is also worthy of mention - a delicious amalgamation of lime, peppermint and crushed berries alongside a shot of rum.

Taberna da Rua das Flores, Rua das Flores 103, was another delight, so much so that we visited twice. It's a little restaurant off Largo de Camões with mainly tables for two (although we managed to fit the three of us at a squeeze) and with one such 'table' consisting of cushions upon some wide steps, which was an interesting touch. The menu changes on a daily basis and consists of tapas style dishes, all of which are explained to you by one of the friendly waiters or waitresses. We were impressed by all the dishes that we ordered but notable were the clams (served in a garlic and white wine sauce alongside chorizo), deep-fried asparagus, barely-cooked strips of white fish (I can't remember what type) with sweet potato crisps, pork belly with red onions, and baked figs with goats cheese. The chocolate cake for dessert is also a good choice.









Cervejaria Ramiro, Avenue Almirante Reis 1, is the place for seafood. I have been advised on more than one occasion that no food is worth queuing long for. However, Cervejaria Ramiros definitely calls this advice into question. We waited an hour and a half before finally being invited into the crowded interior and seated alongside an aquarium of lobsters. Piles of toasted bread dripping in butter are served alongside the some of the freshest and tastiest shellfish that I have ever eaten. I'm not the greatest fan of shellfish but the chilli and garlic prawns were absolutely divine - and that's no overstatement. We finished the meal with a prego (steak sandwich) which left my carnivorous tendencies well and truly satisfied.






Cantinho do Avillez, Rua Duques de Bragança 7, is owned by the same chef as Café Lisboa. In fact, José Avillez owns five restaurants in the capital, all of which serve slightly different cuisine. We started with deep-fried green beans and pork cheek with asparagus in a mustard and pickle sauce. I couldn't resist a steak for the main course but most notable was my dad's Alentejo black pork with garlic breadcrumbs and black beans. For dessert, I'd recommend the chocolate cake with strawberry ice cream, or the orange and vanilla crème brûlée.

Chapitô à Mesa, Costa do Castelo 1, is a lively restaurant set in a courtyard within Lisbon's circus school. The sea bass was grilled perfectly although the vegetables served with it were a little boring. More adventurous were the ice cream choices which included eucalyptus and mandarine flavours.



WHERE TO SHOP

Although we did little in the way of shopping, this post would be lacking if I didn't include a few gems that we came across.

Feira da Ladra, Campo da Santa Clara, is Lisbon's flea market that takes place every Tuesday and Saturday. A lot of the stalls sell expensive tat but go with an open mind - and a scrutinising eye! - and there's many a treasure to be found. After a couple of hours of hot, dusty thrifting, I came away with half a suitcase's worth of vintage clothing - and a 1950s houndstooth suitcase to house them in.





A Outra Face da Lua, Rua Assunção 22, provided more vintage beauties for me to feast my eyes upon, and at prices competitive with the stores back in the UK. They even have an adjoining tea room, although unfortunately we didn't have time to check it out.





Viúva Alegre, Rua da Assunção 19, is their sister store which stocks more dressy pieces at slightly higher prices.

EurekaRua Nova do Almada 26-28, caught my eye with a pair of vintage red oxfords, which I later learned were a reissue of a design first produced 25 years earlier. On entering the shop, my eyes lit up at the vast array of gorgeous Portuguese leather shoes on offer. Unfortunately the oxfords were sold out in my size but I still managed to walk away happily with a pair of dark navy lace ups, which shall be featured on the blog once I get my act together with outfit posts again.

Embaixada Lomográfica de Lisboa, Rua da Assunção 15, is filled with all things lomographical (yes, I totally made that word up!) and I believe they do workshops too. Possibly the most hypocritical digital photograph I have taken but hypocrisy aside, this shop was rather awesome.



And so that concludes my mammoth blog post and guide to Lisbon. Doubtless as a newbie, I will have missed out a number of must-see places and eateries. But if I have, please do give me a heads up because Lisbon, I'll be back!

11 comments:

  1. So cool, I love Lisbon :) I'll be moving there in September, I can't wait to explore the whole city

    ReplyDelete
  2. I LOVE THIS POST! Such an amazing overview of the things to do in Lisbon. I would like to visit it as well!

    http://santebysabrina.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for sharing!! Now I have to visit Lisbon :)

    - Kristine B
    www.kristineb.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Woah, thanks for sharing! Can't believe I missed so much when I went there last year! Have to take another trip there! x




    http://cashmereandcherrypie.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Portia! I nominated you for the Liebster Award on my blog!


    xxx
    www.journal-of-style.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. OH WOW i NEED TO VISIT LISBON
    www.populairelife.co.uk xx

    ReplyDelete
  7. i was never a fan of spain/portugal but i def need to think about :)
    bisou mirjam
    www.jeneregretterien.ch

    ReplyDelete
  8. Belém has a beautiful garden called Jardim do Ultramar, just behind the street of the Pastéis, it's well worth a visit too :) And there's another large garden in Sintra called Quinta da Regaleira (yes, I have a thing for gardens).



    And now I'm hungry...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ooh, I shall definitely have to check these out if I visit Lisbon again - which I really hope to do!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Awesome photography! I'm planning to have a vacation there in Lisbon next few weeks and I'm currently looking for a good place where there are coffee shops and resto nearby, what do you think about this link? http://dreamhomeaway.com/rooms/18233

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh wow, the apartment looks gorgeous. I'm not so familiar with the part of Lisbon where it's located but I know it's in easy walking / tram distance of the main centre so it looks like a good choice of accommodation to me!

    ReplyDelete