Saturday, 7 May 2016

MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

Hi everyone,

In the last few posts I’ve been sharing with you my latest European adventure.  Previously I was telling you about our time in Greece (Athens and Santorini) but now is the time to move to the next place on our itinerary - Portugal.
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

Our first stop was Lisbon.  Apart from it being Portugal’s capital, I didn’t know much about this far-Western European capital.  I heard from the lady I work with that it is a beautiful city and we were quite curious to see it for ourselves.

We landed in Lisbon late in the evening and couldn’t see much of the city on the way to our hotel. We stayed at Santiago de Alfama, a small boutique hotel situated in Alfama (the oldest district of Lisbon), that was recently converted from a 15th century castle into a modern, stylish and sophisticated place, situated within a short walk to Castelo de São Jorge.
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

Our first step in exploring a new city has always been on the top of a Red Hop-on Hop-Off bus and this was no exception.  Fortunately, the bus interchange was within ten minutes walk from our hotel so armed with directions and a city map given to us by the concierge, we began our Lisbon adventure.  
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

The first thing we noticed as we stepped outside is how all the streets in the old city are paved with small cobblestones that make walking quite challenging.  Luckily for us, we were forewarned and were properly shod. 
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON
The district of Alfama is a labyrinth of narrow streets, winding alleys and steep flights of steps.  Lots of buildings are covered by ancient tiles of intricate and colourful design, and others are painted in pink and yellow hues and are a great fun to look at.  
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON
Some streets bend at a really sharp angle and as you come around a corner, you unexpectedly find a cosy bar, a coffee shop or an art gallery or a shop. We absolutely loved it.  Finally we made it to the bus stop and spent the next couple of hours seeing the city from the top deck of the bus which gives you totally different perspective of the city and its people.
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON
The next day we boarded the famous 28 yellow tram travelling through Alfama all the way to its last stop next to magnificent Estrela Basilica
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON
We then walked all the way back to our hotel, making unplanned detours to the right and left off the track into the narrow streets of the surrounding neighbourhoods of Baixa and Chiado taking images of the street murals as we went.
STREET ART, LISBON

STREET ART, LISBON

STREET ART, LISBON

STREET ART, LISBON

STREET ART, LISBON

STREET ART, LISBON

STREET ART, LISBON

STREET ART, LISBON

MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

We walked and walked and couldn’t get enough of the charms of Lisbon.  At some point we stopped at a local tavern, went inside and ate the most delicious lunch surrounded purely by locals.
We fell in love with Lisbon.  We admired the architecture of the old buildings, the colours they were painted, the mosaic of wall tiles, the bright hues of front doors, the cobblestoned laneways with their small bars, vinotecas and eateries and the soft Fado music streaming out into the street from the open doors and windows – the numerous charms of Lisbon.
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON
It was almost dark by the time we found our way back to the hotel.

The next day we made a trip to Mercado da Ribeira, main Lisbon’s food market that in 2014 was taken over by TimeOut Lisboa magazine, whose management added stalls offering food and traditional local products.  
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON
Today Mercado da Ribeira is not only a destination for fresh produce but also a busy hub and a great place to have the most sumptuous lunch chosen from over 50 different food stalls and then eaten at one of the numerous communal table sharing your joy for food and wine with fellow food lovers.
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON
There is so much to do in Lisbon that our four days were absolutely full on and yet there was more to go.  We, did, however, found time to visit the majestic town of Sintra but that story is for another post.
MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY - ENCHANTING LISBON

Unfortunately, the streak of bad weather that we encountered in Greece, followed us all the way to Portugal and precluded us doing the roof-top bar hopping in Barrio Alto where the good food, wine, Fado music and great views over the city all come together to create a perfect way to end the day but we, however, found a lovely, very cosy restaurant and wine called Espumantaria on a way in out hotel where we had a scrumptious meal and drank absolutely divine wine.
Espumantaria, Lisbong
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My Steak Tartare at Espumantaria, Lisbon

Espumantaria, Lisbon

I will continue to tell you more about its enchanting city and its surrounding in my next post. 

Until then,