“If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.” T. Pratchett
Luckily enough, the cats of Lisbon didn’t seem too fussed about being beaten to anything by anyone, as they lay there, in an almost dead-like manner, baking gently in the sun. The streets were quiet, old and tired. It gets to you, time, it really does. Your bones set in, bits and pieces fall apart, and cities are just like people.
Just like people, some cities grow old beautifully.
It took us very little time to get from the airport to Alfama (and about 10 euro) by taxi. The district is the oldest in Lisbon, with its tiny labyrinth of streets being once famed for being the host of fishermen and the poor – yet that description would hardly give the place justice. The architecture was reminiscent of Venice and even Rome in bits – all narrow, old and likely to host boogeymen in their dark corners.
Close to Alfama is Portas do Sol where you can find a few bars and restaurants (however, it is a very touristic spot), and the first contact with a Miradouro (a point of view – aka a place where you can see a large bit of the city). To the great suffering of my future hungover self, Lisbon is build on hills, which means that you always end up walking uphill. It also means there’s a lot of miradouros.
Going uphill a bit will lead you to Miradouro do Graça (or at least that’s how I call it because it’s near the convent with the same name) where you can view the western side of Lisbon and the Castle of São Jorge.
Off course, hard workers (and people who go uphill) deserve a good rest; a coffee and an introduction to Portuguese pastries. We settled for the closest coffee shop – Restaurant “Sol Nascente” – a soon to prove big tourist trap, high prices and unpleasant staff. But they had wifi and it was sunny outside.
I will go more into detail about pastries in Lisbon in the second post (Spoiler alert!), safely to say what you see on the plate is a Pastel de Nata (right bottom), a Bollo do Arroz (left bottom) – which wasn’t all that great – and a swirly thing that I have no idea what to call and which frankly I didn’t taste (if you do know what it is by all means enlighten me).
I also became a pigeon whisperer, making friends that then ended up attracting others and perching on my shoulder. Such a social butterfly I am.
The weather might not be the best during this time of the year (we ended up with some rainy days) – but it makes up with blooming orange trees everywhere that smell divine. It was almost as if we landed in a freshly washed clothes basked (that didn’t exactly sound like a compliment).
We headed over to grab some dinner at Taberna da Rua das Flores (number 103 on the street with that name), where we indulged in some Porto wine (which is a very sweet Portuguese wine usually served with dessert), some squid – which was scrumptious despite the pasta with squid ink being black and slightly not to our taste, some nice pork belly, salty goat cheese (the cheese itself was very salty but it worked wonderful with the sweet chutneys that came alongside it) and some more cheese topped with almonds and honey for dessert! Cause you can never have too much cheese in your life.
The staff was incredibly helpful, cute and bearded (he also spoke in very fluent French, English and Portuguese. Why are you working in a restaurant, man?!). As my travels would soon tell, men here liked their facial hair. And so did I.
Our adventures (once I skip over certain parts of the night) for the first day would end sooner than later, deciding to indulge in just being lazy and “recovering” from the stress of traveling.
Other posts from this trip: