Ahhh… Portugal. To be honest I didn’t think much of Lisbon before I arrived here. Not that I didn’t like the city, it’s just I had never thought to visit. It wasn’t on my list of must see places in Europe. However, my cousin lives in Lisbon and I was able to stay with her while I planned my next trip across Europe so that’s how I ended up in the capital of Portugal.
‘The city of Seven Hills’ has many layers to it, from the deeply religious background to the earthquake that destroyed almost the entire city just over 250 years ago. To the nightlife that’s kept me out for my fair share of 5am cab rides home to the rich history of a nation of explorers.
One of the best things I did while in Lisbon was take two walking tours (one was free, the other was about $15). Both tours basically blended together to become a crash course of the history of Lisbon and Portugal as a whole. It wasn’t until I learned more about the history of this place that I could see how prevalent it still is in modern Lisbon.
It’s not just the monuments that serve as memories of the past here, it’s the white cobblestone sidewalks from Roman influences. The tiled walls on the outside of buildings were learned from the Moors. Even the blue and white dishes used in nearly every cafe and restaurant come from their past.
Now, if you don’t know much about Portugal, they’re known for being sailors and explorers (Christopher Columbus, anyone?) and one of the running jokes with the Portuguese is that they don’t get the credit they deserve when it comes to certain traditions from other countries. For example, Tea (Britain), Tempura (Japanese cooking technique), Fine China (China), and even coffee with sugar are all things that can be traced back to Portuguese origins.
The history is rich, as well as the food. You MUST get a Pastel de Nata if you visit. Preferably, go to Belém and get one from Pasteis de Belém. You won’t be disappointed.
Go to Alfama (take the walking tour) and meet Tininha. She sells Ginginha (a native Portuguese drink) out of her living room window for 1€. Totally worth it.
Finally, hit a beach. The weather is typically perfect, think San Diego. There’s plenty of options to choose from. This one is in Cascais, a small beach town about 20 min from Lisbon.
Next up, Prague, Czech Republic
P.S. I must be integrating to European culture. I made it to my first sunrise after a night out. Head to pillow @7:30am