Wandering and exploring a small part of Portugal on my birthday. There are so many reasons to love the country, but to name a few: Lisbon, fado, pastéis de nata, azulejos, miradouros, Sintra, Cascais, trams, the Atlantic Ocean, and castles.
I knew I want to visit Lisbon after I saw the movie Night train to Lisbon. Since I found the movie fascinating, I started reading about Portugal and Lisbon, in particular. Pessoa, the famous Portuguese writer, said that “Life is what we make of it. Travel is the traveller. What we see isn’t what we see but what we are.”
One day I was in the English bookstore in Brussels to buy the book by Pascal Mercier, and I saw it next to the sign “Like all travellers, I have seen more than I remember and remember more than I have seen”. I bought the book and my plane ticket the next day. If this is not a sign, I don’t know what is!
After work, I landed by plane at night in Lisbon, hence the title. I arrived in Praça dos Restauradores exactly the night Lisbon was celebrating Sardine day or the feast of St. Anthony (Os Santos). There was music, a beautiful huge parade (comparable with the Rio Carnaval) and in the entire city was a big party. I must confess when I planned the trip in June I had no idea I will arrive during such a massive and beloved celebration. So that was a pleasant surprise.
Lisbon is best to be discover walking or taking the vintage trams. I always take a long walk when in a new city, doesn’t matter if is raining or is sunshine (both scenarios happened while in Portugal).
When to go? I visited in June and I think it was a good month since the city is extremely hills and the 20 something degrees weather was perfect to walk around.
Each neighbourhood is different. I started in the animated neighborhood Bairro Alto and continued to Baixa. In addition, to travel between the picturesque Baixa (or Lower Town) and Carmo Square you can use a lift: Elevador de Santa Justa. Or why not, funicular Elevador da Bica.
Also, everywhere in the city you see beautiful azulejos – the Portuguese and Spanish word of Arabic origins for painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework. Portuguese use this colorful tiles to decorate the inside and outside of houses, churches or castles.
Speaking of architecture, the beautiful Oriente train station was built by famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Nearby is the Vasco da Gama bridge, the longest bridge in Europe, that spans the Tagus River.
Alfama and trams
The next day I had planned a walking tour in Alfama – the oldest neighbourhood of Lisbon than was not affected by the massive earthquake from 1755. The highlight of the day was the ride with the vintage electric trams – cute, noisy and one of a kind. My favorite part of the route of the classic yellow tram 28 starts at Se Cathedral.
Thanks to many hills in the city you can have breath-taking views from many “miradouros”. My favourite one in Alfama was Miradouro das Portas do Sol.
From Alfama I walked up to Castelo de São Jorge and admired the view of the city and explored the fortified citadel that dates back from the Moorish times.
Instead of conclusion:
I knew that this trip would be great since this country invented two things that I absolutely adore: pastéiss de nata and fado.
Perfect locations from Lisbon for amazing day trips are Sintra for castles and Cascais for the Atlantic Ocean.