Lisbon – All Tarted Up

And we’re back for my annual travel reflection! Oh how I would love to do these more regularly (hint hint, nudge nudge).

It’s been nearly a whole decade, lord help me, since I’ve been to Europe. As soon as I could spell the word pasta, I wanted to land on the doughy shores of Italy, so naturally that was the first place I headed once I graduated high school. An eight-month trip followed soon after. And then…crickets.

There was so much more of the world I had to see, from steaming bowls of pho, to treacherous death roads in South America. But it was time to reacquaint myself with ‘fancy’ backpacking, this time in two countries I had yet to set foot in – Portugal and Greece.

And holy cannoli they did NOT disappoint! First stop, the tart capital of Europe (i’ll fit right in), Lisbon!

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I knew going into my 24-hour journey that I’d love Portugal. Call it women’s intuition, or the sheer fact that a multitude of people told me so. And I was right, the love was instant. Just like one of my unattainable social media crushes, I fell hard and fast.

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I have an immense amount of trouble sleeping on planes, so even after my super comfortable flight over with Qatar, I was very sleep deprived. But that didn’t stop me from making the most of my first Saturday afternoon on the tiled streets of Lisbon.

After dropping my bags with the very lovely team at Home Hostel Lisbon and hopped up on a cocktail I bought along the waterfront, I spent the afternoon taking in this new, exciting city. Lisbon has a buzzing energy, mixed with a relaxed, almost too cool vibe, that made me feel right at home. And it’s bloody beautiful, let’s not forget that. But more on that later.

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My late lunch was brought to you by the tourist-mecca Time Out Market Lisbon, which features close to 40 purveyors of all things from fresh seafood, to high grade steaks, noodles, ice cream and more. I think this is worth checking out, but honestly, you can get amazing local food, without the hordes elsewhere in the city.

While I was there I did try a couple of delicious croquettes from Croqueteria, the city’s first and only croquette store! But what excited me most was my accompanying drink – wine with 7UP! Bananas! I guess it makes sense when you think of a drink like Sangria, but this was a whole new world for me, friends.

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A hostel family dinner and an early night (oh the jetlag!) meant I was ready and raring to go for the hostel’s walking tour – if you don’t do these already, I HIGHLY recommend. So informative, run by a local and usually full of great people, they’re great value.

Our guide was amazing (my apologies sir, I’ve forgotten your name!), taking us up to Alfama and helping us delve into the long and complicated history that is Portugal. Many rulers, such confusion.

Fact of the tour: the tiling seen on a large number of the buildings is an Arabic custom, brought to the country by the Moors. While they may look perfect, each facade actually has one tile that is incorrect, in respect to Allah.

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We also learnt about the magical and emotional world of Fado, a local musical style that is a must-see in Lisbon.

You know how I said that you meet super interesting people on these walk, well I wasn’t lying. Not long into the walk, I gravitated to Laura and Shanti, both over from London, and whom I spent the rest of my time in Lisbon with. Travel friends are the best!

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10,000 steps and a whole lot learned later, we headed to LX FACTORY, a disused factory site that has been transformed into a hipster’s paradise. Filled with both dining and retail abounds, you could spend a couple of hours here eating and shopping your little heart out. Apparently it also goes off at night.

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We ate at Sabor Authentico, and as usual I completely over-ordered but that’s cool when you get brie baked into bread and potatoes.

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These are Patel de nata, or Portuguese tarts. I recommend you eat them all.

Being the somewhat ridiculous human being that I am, prior to my trip I sought out a couple of little gigs to entertain myself at, one being at Brunch Electronik to see techno heavy hitter Charlotte de Witte.

Going to a gig on your own can be pretty daunting, but I was super lucky to have two lovely expats take me under their wing before I even made it through the gate, which made my day! Can recommend going to gigs in foreign countries to see which country has the most fun 😉

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Sunset following Brunch Electronik

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Day 2 of exploring Lisbon (I was there for 4 days in total, with 2 spent doing day trips) was spent with an early morning dash to the local “treasure” market in Alfama, and general exploration (read: eating). Apparently if you lose things in Lisbon, there’s a high probability it will end up here, so if you’re ok buying pilfered goods, you’ll probably pick up a good bargain!

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Good coffee had here
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For your Melbourne brunch fix
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Sardines like Ferris wheels too

That evening, we ventured into the night life district to see some of the aforementioned Fado, heading to Tasca Do Chico for our fix – it had a big line out front so it must be good! An interesting musical style to say the least, emotive, raw and powerful. 

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Lisbon is fun, vibrant and needs WAAAYYYYY more than my 2 days to truly experience what it’s about. I’ll definitely be back.

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