It happened all of a sudden: many people around me started talking about Lisbon. Friends and acquaintances were recounting how their Lisbon holiday was, while others, when they are leaving and how enthusiastic they are. My Facebook feed was swiftly filled with photos of Alfama and Bairro Alto, with seafood dishes and bargains from the flea markets. That’s how Lisbon tiptoed slowly in my heart and, in a sunny day, here I am on the cobbled streets, looking fascinated around. Sweet, so this is Lisbon, I said to myself, regretting that I booked only a four day mini vacation.
The capital of Portugal pleasantly surprised me with its mix of classic and modern, which is present in almost everything – from architecture to food, hotels or shops. I had in mind, for example, the traditional fado music concerts – the kind of experience that is not to be missed, especially at Clube de Fado. But, surprisingly, I arrived also at Lux, a modern club where famous DJs from allover the world perform. And I went there out of curiosity, knowing that one of the club’s owners is the one and only… John Malkovich.
As in each new place that I want to discover, I walked a lot, and when I got tired, I boarded tram 28 – a great idea to charge my batteries, yet continuing to see the city. And then I found out about the Eco Tuks, a kind of tuk-tuk that carried me through the streets of Alfama. It’s really worthwhile, because in just two hours the guide showed me so many cool places, some I couldn’t have found by myself. At least not in a mini vacation.
I woke up in the mornings so I can go to spots that are usually very crowded, thus avoiding the long queues. So, I saw the Sao Jorge Castle and savoured, from up there, the fantastic panorama, then the Tower of Belem and the Jeronimos Monastery. I walked along the esplanade to the Praca do Comercio and, one day, by chance I ended up in a flea market at Campo de Santa. I stayed there for a few good hours, and if I wouldn’t have been worried they’ll break down the road, I would have gone home with a stack of traditional ceramics that I fancied. I’ve checked out even the designer shops, I liked the Fashion Clinic (one of the multi brands in town) and… I ate.
I enjoyed each meal, and even some snacks in between, as in Lisbon you’ll find pastry shops everywhere and it’s hard to hold back from all the goodies out there. I made a reservation at Cervejaria Ramiro, especially for the seafood dishes. And for an elegant evening, I recommend Belcanto, a two Michelin star restaurant: a true culinary experience.
After the days spent in Lisbon, I somehow understood why everyone loves this city: it’s got something for everyone. Traditional food in small, family-run restaurants, versus the very elegant Michelin ones. Flea markets, as well as renowned brands. Fado or modern clubs with hip DJs. You just have to take a few days off, to have enough time to discover each neighborhood and to be open to the most various and unexpected experiences.