So when the Easter long weekend presented an opportunity to visit a warmer climate and see that big, yellow fireball in the sky again, I jumped at it.
Contrary to what I thought Portugal would be like, there was not a Nando’s on every corner and I was not offered the option of mild, medium or hot peri-peri on any of my meals.
Due to a tight budget we stayed at the Poets Hostel, a very cool, artsy place situated near all the main tourist attractions. Despite my immediate regret at booking a hostel, it was extremely clean, modern and perfectly situated in among all the tourist hot spots that you’ll want to see while staying in Lisbon. Above all, it was really affordable and we didn’t have any problems staying here.
You can get to Rossio for €3.50 on the AeroBus from the airport. Rossio is a square located in the middle of Lisbon and easy walking distance to most hotels and hostels.
We wanted to see as much of Lisbon as possible, so booked onto the X Day Tour run by We Hate Tourism Tours. Our guides Marcos and Miguel were incredibly funny and knowledgeable, the tour was excellent value and we saw everything we wanted to and more.
Our day was spent strolling through castles and villages in Sintra, eting freshly baked (and completely life changing) chorizo and cheese rolls in Serra de Sintra, indulging in ice creams in Cascais and standing on the most western point of Europe at Cabo Da Roca, once considered to be the ‘edge of the world’. Absolutely inspiring!
During the early stages of the tour, Marcos and Matt discovered a shared love for Eddie Vedder, Into the Wild and Surfing. And so I found myself sandwiched between the two of them, hurtling through the streets of Sintra with Pearl Jam pumping out of a Nokia 6210 on the dashboard as they discussed their favourite surf breaks.
Food, Drink & Culture
Our first night in Lisbon, we discovered that the food in the main tourist areas wasn’t impressive, it was only when we got out of these areas and into the smaller streets with small café’s and street vendors that we found amazing food! Do yourself a favour and stock up on savoury and sweet treats from a local bakery, amazing.
Our second night in Lisbon, we headed out to find a Fado café. Fado is traditional, soulful Portugese music and something considered to be a ‘must-do’. Unfortunately for us, we walked into Café Luso and ended up paying €56 ($71 AU) for two starters and half a bottle of white wine.
As we were scraping the last of our money out of our wallets and trying to make a swift exit, the dancers who were previously on stage now appeared at our table, thrusting large, wooden banners covered in bright flowers into our hands and pushing us onto the stage into a congo line of our fellow diners who are equally as frazzled as we are.
We start dancing around in circles aimlessly while tables of tourists produce iPhone, Smart-droid, Black-currents and start filming the whole ordeal to, no doubt, stream live to the world online. Needless to say we were both horrified and quickly scurried back off stage, out of the restaurant and to the safety of the nearest Mojito Bar.
Little Grey Tips
My top five tips for visiting Lisbon
1. Take the Tram – The #28 runs through the heart of Lisbon and is a fun, cheap and authentic way to see the sights. Go to the metro station in town to buy a daily travel card for €5.50, it will last 24 hours and you can use it unlimited on buses, trains and trams.
2. Bairro Alto – Skip the expensive, overrated drinks and dinner and go to the Bairro Alto district for cocktails and live music.
3. Chorizo rolls and Portuguese tarts – Don’t eat breakfast at your hotel, wake up early and find a local bakery. Be sure to indulge in one of the freshly baked Chorizo rolls and a Portuguese egg tart.
4. Find a real Fado Bar – Poets Hostel runs a free Fado tour on Sunday’s that will take you to an authentic Fado Café where you’ll pay a fraction of the price but have one of the most amazing live music experiences of your life
5. Oceanarium and Esplanade – Use your bus ticket to take a trip out to the Oceanarium and Esplanade, kids will love the aquarium and afterwards you can stroll along the Esplanade in the sun, then stop for Sangria and Tapas.
For reviews on We Hate Tourism Tours, Café Luso and Poets Hostel visit TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/members-reviews/littlegreybox
We Hate Tourism Tours: http://wehatetourismtours.com/index.aspx