Waving a heartfelt “see you again soon” to Sevilla, we let public transport whisk us away towards Lisbon. These bus and train rides provided much needed time for napping and reflecting.
While it was a longer travel day than we probably needed/wanted, time passed quickly and before long the little arrow on my google map had us approaching a very long bridge that would shuttle us into downtown Lisbon. Later I learned that this bridge, the Vasco de Gama bridge, is the longest in Europe. Fun (to me) Fact!
In hindsight, adding Lisbon to our itinerary was probably a bit of overkill. Back when the ladyfolk of this foursome were planning out our week of double-date-travels, it seemed like a fun idea to fly into Madrid and out of Lisbon, and completely do-able. While it was in fact, do-able, it led to a more rushed visit to southern Spain than we’d have all liked. But, as a result of our over-eagerness in the planning stage, we also got to go to Lisbon!!!
I was looking forward to it! I’ve been hearing and reading so much about Lisbon recently in the blogospheres of the internets and have seen this historic city mentioned many times in “up-and-coming-destination” lists. I waste a lot of time reading travel articles and lists and recommendations and I’m always a sucker for references to fun and funky hotels around the world. It seems as of late I’ve seen several such hotels & guesthouses in Lisbon and Portugal in general. We ended up deciding to splurge on our final nights in Europe and stayed in one such funky hotel: Evolution! (very much reminded of us of a stay we enjoyed in NYC in a similar futuristic/spaceship themed hotel: Yotel.)
Settling into our smart room (too smart for me, I couldn’t find the volume for the entire time we were there) provided the perfect segway into the quirky scene that is Lisbon. The fact that Portugal remains the EUs weakest economy is evident and people have been hit hard here by the economic crisis. That gives Lisbon a slightly rough-around-the-edges look, a look I love! Heading into the old town the twisting cobblestone streets leading down to the riverfront provided many reminders of the seafaring powerhouse this city once was.
Had to borrow this photo from Tom Boyd as I didn’t have one similar. Renee and I down on along the river.
We also had a chance to redeem ourselves from our terrible 1.5 meals in Porto earlier in the month – and we scored big! Portugal is known for its phenominal cod and we both agreed the giant portion we were served for dinner came in well beyond our expecations. We also checked out a trendy, upscale food court and I had the best pork belly I’ve had in my life! Even a random stop for a small plate of chicken we shared while waiting for one of our travel mates turned out delightful…and it just came from a doner kebab place we happened to pass. Renee and I were both a bit sheepish to say what was on both our minds, to say something as silly as it being the best chicken ever, but once the cat was out of the bag we both enthusiastically agreed that it was in fact, just maybe, the best chicken EVER! Whoa. Mind blown.
Lisbon’s famed Bacalao (cod)- melt in your mouth!
The hip and trendy Mercado da Ribeira
We missed a lot of Lisbon. While we did get to stroll through the Mouraria area, we missed its cousin, Alfama. We didn’t get to the parks or to see much of the waterfront or the Belem area or many of the cool museums I read about. Partially due to lack of time but also because I spent way too much time on the phone with the delightful folks at Iberia Customer Service once we discovered that Iberia had rebooked us and apparently thought we were magical time travelers because they’d given us seats on two flights with a negative connection time! Then they decided we were fine staying in Lisbon for 3 extra days, which was unacceptable given we’d miss connecting flights in Mexico and Luis needed to be in Boulder for work on Monday, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. So anyway, precious time I should have been out tasting Portugal’s seafood was instead wasted on the telephone – at least we had a cool hotel to hole up in.
Street graffito in Mouraria neighborhood.
Long story (sorta) short – I heart Lisbon and I’m really, really interested in returning. I loved our sneak peak of Porto too…perhaps Portugal deserves her own Spring In Portugal tour!?!?!??! Next year.