In December of 2011, my brother and I travelled to Lisbon for a 4-day stopover before our Christmas in India at my sister’s. It was amazing! Of all the places I’ve traveled, Lisbon is currently tied for first place with Ireland.
There’s something very San Francisco-esque about Lisbon. It’s hilly, there’s a huge red bridge, and it’s got a crisp coastal climate all year. The City of Seven Hills is quaint, but anytime you travel by foot, you’re in for a workout. The food and drinks were pretty cheap, and we had pretty affordable accommodations at the Oasis Hostel. We walked just about everywhere, and got to see a lot in our short time there.
We Hate Tourism Tours – X-Day Trip
There’s this great little tourism company that drags 4-8 people around in an old school van to see the sights. We opted for the “We Own the Night” tour, but nobody else signed up for it so we settled for the X-Day Trip instead. We checked out some castles and cathedrals on the way to Quinta da Regaleira, which was an Italian millionaire’s eccentric home, then we had lunch on the coast in Sintra, which is the southwestern-most point of Europe, and was previously believed to be the end of the world, back when the world was flat.
On the way back we stopped at a beach in Cascais, and had a delicious custard dessert in Belem. I highly recommend checking out one of these tours while you’re in town. They are run by locals, so you get to experience a little of that Portuguese pride as well.
The Famed Chapito’s
Greg had heard of this restaurant called Chapito’s, so we decided to give it a try. They don’t even open until 10pm, which is apparently pretty typical of places in Portugal. We opted to sit in the bar where we could enjoy the view of the water, and get tapas-style food. You could seriously order just one croquette, so we ordered just about one of everything in order to taste as much as possible. I must admit to my failure here, I can’t remember the name of anything we ate there! I do know it was really good, really affordable, and really fun!
Thieves’ Market & St. George’s Cathedral
We navigated the ridiculous streets of Lisbon to hit up the Thieves’ Market. We picked up a fellow traveler, Will, from Australia, on the way, and we all bought a few souvenirs for friends and family.
The Highest Point
After finding St. George’s Cathedral, we decided not to spend the money to get the tour, but followed the suggested route up to the highest point of Lisbon, where we were able to see the entire city laid out before us.
We stopped for lunch at a random little restaurant, which was pretty good and very cheap. Greg and Will went to a wine tasting at Will’s hostel, and I headed back to get a little work done. (Womp, womp.)
Out on the Town
One of the hostel employees runs a little bit of a bar crawl for about $10 a person. It includes unlimited drinks at a local bar, and entry to a nightclub. About 12 of us from the hostel headed out to experience the nightlife, and found ourselves in the midst of karaoke! Greg sang “Hey Jude.”
About mid-way through the night, Greg and I ditched the crew to get our belongings and head to the airport. It was an excellent trip and I can’t wait to go back!