Travel

Holiday Travels – Lisbon, Portugal

A rather belated Part II of my Portugal holiday post, see here for Part I: Holiday Travels, Sintra. After a delightful few days in Sintra, we took our hire car back to Lisbon Airport and took an Uber into Lisbon. Sidenote: Ubers in Lisbon are super cheap, and the drivers are so friendly and love to talk about Lisbon.

We rented an Airbnb apartment, it was the first time we had used Airbnb and we were so impressed. The owner and his family who look after the apartment were super responsive and really helpful. The one-bedroom apartment is in a converted stables block and was incredible. It’s in a fantastic part of Lisbon: Chiado, which is very central and is known for being the theatre district, as well as being trendy and home to some spectacular views of the city.

outside-of-our-apartment

Day 1, Thursday – Our first stop after dropping our stuff off at our incredibly trendy apartment, was for lunch at a nearby restaurant called Sacramento do Chiado. I have to say, it was decorated similarly to our apartment! Very funky decor and we loved the unusual light fixture, below. I remembered seeing online that this restaurant is labelled as being quite romantic, and I can see why with its red and pink colour scheme. The food was lovely – Mediterranean-style cuisine – my fish curry was lovely and fragrant. As with most of the restaurants we ate at, portions are very generous here. The wine list was also very good.

sacramento-do-chiado-restaurant

After eating we decided to wonder around Chiado and were drawn to the glimmering River Tagus that we could see in the distance. This particular afternoon was one of my favourites in Lisbon – we went down to the river and found a bustling little kiosk by the water’s edge, and sprawled out on the wall (there were comfy-looking deck chairs but they were all taken at this point) and guzzled many glasses of Espumante, a very nice Portuguese sparkling wine. We just sat for hours, gazing at the incredible 25 de Abril Bridge and soaking in the glorious sun.25 de Abril bridge.jpg

After getting a wee bit tipsy in the sun, we headed back to the apartment to freshen up before dinner and headed out to Taberna Tosca, a cosy little tapas restaurant in the Bairro Alto district, not far from our apartment. It’s quite a small restaurant but this only serves to make it look even more intimate and buzzing, and the tapas were excellent, as was the wine.

We tried a couple of cocktail bars after dinner, including Pensão Amor and Bom, o Mau e o Vilão (‘The Good, the Bad and The Ugly’ – love that name!). I loved the decor and atmosphere of both bars, but was underwhelmed by the cocktails themselves.

Day 2, Friday  – On our second day in Lisbon, we headed for the castle – the Moorish Castelo de Sao Jorge. It was a delightful (if rather steep!) walk up to it, the Alfama district is really old and quirky.

alfama-district

Much of the castle is battlements with great views of the River Tagus. I’ve also added a wee outfit picture below, the dress is from New Look which I bought last year in the sale and the cream bag is from Zara – their 2016 S/S collection.

We had lunch in Casa do Leão, a restaurant within the Castle’s walls. It has a beautiful outdoor seating area – the view is divine and the food was good. NB: If you book ahead it’s worth letting them know you would like to sit outside, and you have to buy a ticket to enter the castle if you want to eat there (I think a ticket costs about 8 euros).

After a little nap in the afternoon, naturally, we got ready for dinner. We headed to Kais, which was one of the most memorable restaurants in Lisbon. It’s a converted warehouse by the docks, the walls are glass with a waterfall effect; and inside it’s huge with trees all around the edges, and lit by huge candles everywhere – such a unique place. The food was incredible, the staff were very attentive and friendly, and the wine was lovely with a designated sommelier – Luke was very pleased that he impressed him with his wine choice!

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Day 3, Saturday – We began the day in the very unhealthy Pop Cereal Café, which was very close to our apartment – the (I presumed but not entirely sure) owner was like a puppy – so full of energy and enthusiastic. They have tons of the really delicious but oh-so-bad-for-you American cereals; you can choose combinations from their menu or make your own and add toppings. Delicious!

We then had a wonder round the Carmo Convent, which is now in ruins but you can still see the beautiful gothic architecture. The convent was destroyed in an earthquake in 1755. There are also some archaeological items housed there, including shrunken heads – not gonna lie, these were awesome!; South American mummies, ancient tombstones and coins dating back to the thirteenth century.

We then meandered towards the Museum of Ancient Art, stopping off at the Marionette Museum on the way, which has lots of different types of puppets from across the world, through the ages. Granted, much of this was very creepy, but also pretty cool.

We ate lunch at the Clube de Jornalistas, eating in the terrace at the back of the restaurant which was really peaceful, and the food was really nice. We had dinner at a restaurant called As Salgadeiras, a cute restaurant that used to be a bakery – you can see the arches where the ovens used to be.

We finished the evening in Hot Clube de Portugal, a highly recommended jazz club which we really enjoyed. It’s quite intimate which is good because you can always see the musicians.

hot-club-de-portugal

Day 4, Sunday – For our fourth day we headed to Belem, which is home to many Lisbon attractions. We saw the Torre de Belem but didn’t go in as the queues were huge and it was pretty boiling, but it’s a beautiful building which was constructed to guard Lisbon from sea-bound attacks. Unfortunately the Discoveries Monument had scaffolding on it, but having seen it before I didn’t feel too hard done by.

torre-de-belem

We had lunch at Darwin’s, a really lovely restaurant by the river, I absolutely loved the animal-themed decor and the food and wine was good. We spent an hour or so after lunch just sitting in their comfy deck chairs by the river, sipping on delicious Espumante sangria!

After our relaxing lunch, we explored the Monastery of Jeronimos, which was beautiful and had a really interesting exhibition about the history of Portugal.

We just had to stop off at the famous Pastéis de Belem on our way back to the apartment. When in Lisbon…

Dinner was at one of the loveliest locations on the other side of the river River Tagus, it was a bit of a confusing Uber drive over there, but it was totally worth it. The restaurant was called Atira-te Ao Rio, in a beautiful spot at the end of a walkway by the river. The food was great, all delicious fresh fish and the wine was fantastic. The staff were attentive despite being super busy, and sitting by a little beach was just heavenly, watching the sun set – very romantic!

Day 5, Monday – Our last full day in Lisbon comprised of visiting a cat café called Aqui Há Gato, which was very cute, but slightly strange as it feels like you’re sitting in a cattery; visiting the lovely Estrela Basilica, going up to the roof top and seeing the wonderful view; and the Estrela Garden, where I was delighted to see ducks AND turtles!!

A big shout-out for this trip has to go to the wine bar Grapes and Bites in Bairro Alto, as we went here (I think) three out of the five days we were there, and found the most lovely Portuguese wines. The staff were really knowledgeable and it was fascinating hearing them talk about Portuguese wine, what makes it unique and the different grape varieties and the climates that they grow in. We spent several hours here just chilling, sipping on delicious wines and devouring their cheese and meat platters.

Our final dinner was in a modern and unique fish restaurant called SeaMe. When you arrive, a waiter gives you a drinks menu and then a little while after asks you to follow them to the fish counter, where there are tons of fish, shrimps, crabs and lobsters on ice. They explain the different types of fish and how you can have them cooked, and then they take you back to your seats and give you the food menu, which I imagine wouldn’t make much sense if you didn’t see the fish first. We shared a red mullet with potatoes and vegetables, and it was incredible. I would advise booking this restaurant as it was so busy with queues going out the door.

We absolutely loved Lisbon – the food, the wine, the weather, the people, the attractions. It was an absolute pleasure!

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