By Anne JORDAN and Simona PALENGA
Lisbon must be the secret that everybody knows and doesn’t bother keeping it for themselves. If you have ever watched Wim Wenders “Lisbon Story” (https://wimwendersstiftung.de/en/film/lisbon-story-2/) , those images of trams going up and down the city made you want to visit it right away. Back when the movie came out in the 1990’s, it wasn’t as easy, nor cheap as it is today to get to Lisbon.
HOW TO GET THERE : From Bordeaux Lisbon is a quick (and often inexpensive) flight on multiple carriers, from Ryanair and Eastjet to the Portugese company TAP. Once there, taxis and Ubers are incredibly affordable and easy to take to get around the city.
Lisbon is a one of the cities you learn about in world history, a once strong colonial power and people (much like the Basque) who were masters at sea. Their global influence is more nuanced today, but nevertheless fascinating. There are many similarities between the history of Lisbon and the history of Barcelona, these large cities were once strongly influenced by the Moors. This is why we see the beautiful tiles all over Lisbon and where the name azulejo came from, the Arabic word ‘Al-zulaydj’. Both cities were great beneficiaries of colonialization and transatlantic trading, and both suffered greatly during the early 20th century under dictatorships.
Kids will love the aquarium, or Lisbon Oceanarium, it’s a clean, large space (largest indoor aquarium in Europe!) so extra special if you have rainy or very hot days. You’ll see plenty of sharks, rays and tropical fish…plus the gift shop has some wonderful souvenirs / Esplanada Dom Carlos I, Lisbon, Continental Portugal 1990 / +351 21 891 7000 / https://www.oceanario.pt/
WHAT TO DO :
You can’t go wrong just wandering the streets, or taking a tram and using it as a self guided tour. Uber and taxis are relatively inexpensive and the drivers are all very friendly. They are great sources of information!
Lisbon is known for the stunning tiles or azulejo that have made this city famous for centuries. You can see them decorating the outside of buildings and adorning homes, for sale in the markets and in boutique shops. To get a good idea of the history and depth of this subject, take a visit to the National Azulejo Museum. They have a nice gift shop for souvenirs and coffee shop if you need a snack / http://www.museudoazulejo.gov.pt
WHERE TO EAT :
FOOD TOURS Oh, my cod! who offers food tours of the city. They were instrumental in discovering neighborhoods and food that came from afar, but it is Portuguese, more than anything. On the tour, we sampled Porto and vino Verde wine, ham, cow and sheep cheese, samosas of Mozambique origin, cod fish (of course!), sardines, octopus, chorizo…and more!
CONSERVAS It would be hard to leave Lisbon without some Loja Das Conservas. This is not your typical tuna in a can from the grocery store and they make great gifts. Or take them out with a bottle of wine you bring home as well to share with friends! Everything from octopus, razor clams and mussels is canned in different liquids, like flavored oils or brine water / Rua du Arsenel, 130 Lisbon 110-040 / +351 911 181 210 / https://lojadasconservas.com/
RESTAURANTS Desnorte, a small restaurant on a quiet side street that served up nice plates of fresh seafood and tapas style plates. Great value as well / 13 Rua do Norte, 1200-283 Lisboa / +351 21 342 1051 / https://www.facebook.com/desnorte
Enjoy a night of fine dining and fado singing at Duetos da Se, near the cathedral. Waiters are extremely friendly, spoke Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and, of course, English. This was quite common in most of the places where we ate or stopped for a drink : the Lisboetas are truly multilinguals! Travessa do Almargem Nº 1 A/B/C, Alfama 1100-019 Lisboa – Portugal / firstname.lastname@example.org / https://www.duetosdase.com/site
After so much fish and seafood, we decided to have a meaty dinner and were not disappointed by Pigmeu: “a nose to tail” restaurant serving all things pork, with particular attention to conscious and responsible food consumption. It was love at first bite between Miguel, the owner, suggesting starting with some bread and pig “butter”: lard seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper, just like Simonas husband’s grandmother would do it in SW France / Rua 4 de infantaria, 68
1350-274 Lisboa, Portugal / +351 218 252 990 / email@example.com / https://www.pigmeu.pt/
PASTRY During a late afternoon stroll throughout the city, stop by one of the oldest pastry shops in Lisbon still managed today by descendants of the founder: Confeitaria Nacional. It opened in 1829 and made history in many aspects, including sending their chefs abroad to master the skills of French and Spanish bakers and pastry chefs, and being the first to install the first telephones in Lisbon.
COFFEE Indulge with a tasty breakfast at A Brasileira in Chiado neighbourhood. A Portuguese went to Brazil looking for fortune, he married the daughter of a coffee producer and moved back to Portugal with the idea of selling the exotic drink. But people were reluctant to try it. So he thought he needed a place for people to sit and taste coffee, so he opened the shop in 1905 telling people to “drink it with sugar” (Beba Isto Com Açúcar). You can drink coffee everywhere, but it is here that the word bica was born to refer to coffee! / Rua Garrett, 120/122, 1200-205 Lisboa / +351 213 469 541 / firstname.lastname@example.org / https://www.abrasileira.pt/
MARKET On our last day before boarding the flight back home to Bordeaux, we chose to visit the historical Mercado da Ribeira, opened in 1882, today serving both as regular market selling fresh fruit and vegetables (omg, those bags of lemons made me wish I had space in my luggage!) and a food court with about 40 different stalls that cater for all tastes, known under the name of TimeOut Market
WHERE TO STAY : There are options for all budgets, here are the two apartments we can vouch for.
Shiadu Boutique Hotel is an apartment/hotel near the water. We had a one bedroom, livingroom with sleeper-sofa, and kitchen space to do small meals. Beautiful interior design and very comfortable beds as well. Excellent value / Rua Dom Duarte, Santa Maria Maior, 1100-198 Lisboa / +351 914 176 969 / Home – Shiadu Boutique Hotels and Guesthouses Grupo Shiadu Official Website
Alfama Stay Inn is a one bedroom apartment in a quite, pedestrian corner of Alfama, the oldest neighbourhood of the city and from there, we explored the city mainly on foot and discovered a lot of similarities between our Bordeaux and Lisbon (coming up in next post!)