Lisbon, Portugal

As I said in my last post, I’ve been trying to cram in the travel.  Portugal was on my short list of places to visit and I had some friends that would be in Lisbon June 4-7.  I booked my ticket on Tuesday afternoon and I flew out Thursday morning!  Hooray for EasyJet!  I also booked an AirBnB that turned out to be sort of a hostel in that it hard shared bathrooms.  It was fine, I had a tiny private room with a key and it was safe.  The bathrooms and showers were private and very clean.  The price was right and the location is very central–walking distance to the metro and so many sights. I got into the city no problem, the metro links directly to the airport.  Finding my AirBnB was another story.  I had directions from the far exit of the station and I didn’t know that I emerged from the (much) closer exit, so I walked back and forth in the hot sun with my wool backpack 4x before I figured it out.  I’m so glad I wasn’t schlepping around a suitcase and my pack wasn’t heavy.  Another plus of inter-Europe travel in the summer!  Once I checked in, I changed and quickly set out to explore–simply wander wherever looked interesting.  There was so much to look at, Lisbon is vibrant with colour.  I had no idea there would be so much tile everywhere–on the sidewalks, public squares, and on the buildings.  I wore sandals the whole time and I had to be be careful as the sidewalks were worn smooth over the years and had become very slippery.  One store I knew I wanted to hit up is Luvaria Ulisses.  It’s a very small shop that sells handmade gloves.  Fitting was a unique experience.  The woman looked at my hand and immediately knew my size.  She brought out some gloves and I propped my elbow on a small cushion.  She used a wood tool to open up the glove fingers and blew in some talc.  Then she put the glove on my hand–this must be where the saying it “fit like a glove” comes from.  It was a perfect fit!  I bought a pair then I met up with my friends nearby at the Santa Just a Elevator.  It’s a Neo-Gothic structure that connected the lower streets with the higher Carmo Square.  Lisbon is hilly with some very narrow streets.

Day 2:  I got up early to beat the heat and tourists to take some photos in the Baixa Chiado neighborhood by my AirBnb.  The weather was perfect–slightly cool and dry with the sun rising.  I found an old café for breakfast and had a traditional custard tart; a pasteis da nata.  It was OK, not my favorite.  Then I walked to my friends’ AirBnB and we took a very noisy and bumpy bus ride to the Jeronimos Monastery.  Then we had lunch at the Time Out Mercado da Ribeira which is a really good food court.  The vendors are made up of some of the city’s top restaurants all in one accessible location.  I highly recommend it if you’re in Lisbon.  It’s a great way to inexpensively sample different types of food.  The rest of the day was more exploring to work off my big lunch.  Side note, a lot of people in Lisbon speak English.

Day 3:  I walked to the Alfama neighborhood, which is the oldest district in Lisbon.  It is very hilly and known for it’s narrow, winding, cobblestone streets.  I had to be extra careful to not wipe out.  A lot of streets were festooned with colorful garlands and littered with bottles and trash so it looks like I just missed a party the night before.  I have no idea what the occasion was.  I followed this up with some shopping then hopped on the metro back to the airport.  Lisbon is an incredible city, I hope to go back.  I had a great time and I’m so glad I made this last minute trip!!

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