Collaboration: Air Baltic sponsored my flights to Lisbon
The capital with art and architecture
Portugal felt like a mystical country to me before I went to Lisbon last month. It’s so far away in the southwest that it gave me these romantic vibes of the remote countries: eternal explorers, surfers hitting the cold Atlantic waves and at least one football guru from Madeira. I have been dreaming about a long road trip on the coast of Portugal and now I got my excursion to see the place a bit. I flew with Air Baltic that took me quick to Lisbon. There are so many good options on the Air Baltic route map that at first I felt a bit stupid that I didn’t go to Madrid instead: it was much warmer there inland! Luckily Lisbon turned warm too and after a few days I didn’t need to feel cold anymore. A Finn went to the tropic: I had only packed summer clothes!
Lisbon felt charming right away. The city is very personal. Its architecture is beautiful, the buildings are fabulous: colourful and decorative. Their age creates value too. Established in 1179 Lisbon reflects historical mood everywhere you go. One outstanding thing I noticed as soon as I had arrived is that the houses are covered with decorative tiles on the outer walls. They are so cool! There are all kinds of tiles: retro style, lukewarm tones, descriptive and flourish tiles. There is also a tile museum in Lisbon, which I didn’t visit yet – next time! Also the hilly terrain makes Lisbon special! The rolling streets and the bridge similar to the Golden Gate and of course the liberal spirit of the city reminded me of San Francisco. The landscape full of houses looked too pretty in changing colours of light. The whole place is like a piece of art. Luckily I took my painting stuff with me! In the evening I enjoyed drinking Portuguese red wine and painting in my cosy artsy room. A sincere recommendation for Sao Bento Guesthouse for a budget accommodation in a great spot – just make sure you book a room well in advance so that you get a room with your own bathroom. Close by is the Basilica de Estrela and the beautiful green park of Estrela: I loved how lush it was and had all kinds of trees and bushes.
Good cafes and local food
The price level of Lisbon is great! I enjoy going into different cafes just randomly – I think that’s the place were you feel the local lifestyle. One Americano and a pastry cost less that two euros. There was a local papa reading the newspaper and drinking Sagres. I saw a pint cost 1,5 euros – nice news after paying 9 euros or so in Finland… Sagres and Super Bock are the two big beer brands in Portugal and they compete also by supporting different local football teams. The most traditional food I ate was the Brás Style Codfish. Portugal exports codfish and fish in general, and they have a lot of fish on menu – naturally. I also ate fresh seabass which was delicious! Similar to Spain Portugal has the tapas culture too. The last supper I had in atmospheric “Tapa Bucho” in lively uptown district Bairro Alto. Bairro Alto is a place you should visit by day and night since it totally changes! It’s sleepy and silent during the day (but there are nice boutiques and parks around it) and it fills up in the night. It’s a cool place!
Iconic trams and the beach by the big city
The public transportation of Lisbon is awesome! It’s very easy to use the metro that works great until I think 01 am. After that Uber is great. The trams make the city iconic of course! I did the legendary tram route number 28 that gives a perfect perspective about the city. The line goes very fast through the very narrow streets of the old town Alfama – it’s picturesque but very touristy. It also passes Baixa and Chiado shopping area and the line ends up just next to the Estrela Park, which I mentioned above.
I also moved by train from the Cais do Sodre station and hit the beach: I went to Carcavelos, which is a nice surf beach 17 km away from the Lisbon centre. This was not only my first time in Portugal but also my first time by the Atlantic ocean. But I didn’t swim! Atlantic was cold! There are restaurants on the beach so I ate and just sunbathed on the beach. That’s good for October. Too bad, it was too late I realised I could have visited the Jerónimos Monastery and its Santa Maria church on a way if I would have hopped off at Belém train station. The church looks amazing on pictures and Neomanueline tomb of navigator Vasco da Gama is located there. On the next trip then, and I’ll go early in the morning because this place will be packed I heard! Once again, time flew and the trip was over too soon. However it will be nice to go back. Lisbon is so rich I won’t get bored, I loved the city! Obrigado Lisbon!
The best things in Lisbon – consider these!
– Bruch Café – all day brunch!
– Casanova pizza restaurant – the best Quattro Formaggio I have ever had: just the right amount of cheese (note: you have to wait in line, there’s no reservations)
– Calouste Gulbenkian Museum – I enjoyed this multiple buildings museum with interesting collection and a nice garden yard
– Manteigaria Pastels de Nata – Pastel de Nata is the local delicate and in this take away place it’s made with the secret recipe of the monks, delicious!
– A walk in Bairro Alto during the day and in the night!