Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lisbon - Days 1 and 2

I love travel posts, I am always interested in other places, both if I have been there before or if it is on my list of places I want to go.  The photos do not often do the sites (sights?) justice, sometimes you just have to see the real life things for yourself, but I hope they serve as inspiration or memory for you.  

We went to the airport last Thursday evening (January 3) all by ourselves.  There is something extra luxurious about being at the airport without children.  We got there a little earlier than we normally would for a flight, but the Raptors/Spurs game was on so we wanted to catch most of that before boarding.  We checked through security and then sat at Lee's in the international departures section. 

The flight was not great, but fine. We tried sleeping and were mostly successful. Air Canada Rouge leaves a little to be desired; the "breakfast" they served was a slice of banana bread.   We landed in Lisbon, got our luggage, were picked up by our driver, and then taken to our apartment in Alfama.  I wrote about that yesterday here.

We had a short nap and then set out to explore.

First stop was the little pizza shop below our apartment.  It was tasty and we were glad to get something quick to eat.

We walked through Alfama and then over to Castelo de S. Jorge.  We marvelled at the colourful buildings, the narrow cobblestoned streets, and charm of the area.  Some of these photos are out of order; I was taking photos on my iPhone and Dave was using the good camera. 

Here comes the infamous trolley cars of Lisbon.  

We stopped in at this coffee shop I had read about, Copenhagen Coffee Lab, and it was exactly what we wanted.  We got some americanos and baked sweets (and free wifi) before continuing on.
My choice was a cardamom bun, the closest one on the tray.

Then up to the castelo. We got a gelato while we were up there too.  We saw lots of tourists in this area and a few peacocks, people selling roasted chestnuts, and shots of ginjinha (the cherry liqueur but we didn't try it).

Excellent views of the city up there.  We did not pay for the entrance fee for the castle and the park surrounding it although it looks like it is a popular spot and the highest part of the city.

Then we walked back to our apartment.  Dave had picked out a little wine bar for us to begin our evening.  It is called the Tábuas Porto Wine Tavern.   We ordered a couple of glasses of wine and olives.  I really enjoyed the vinho verde (green wine), and drank it wherever we went.  It is not green in colour but is just brand new, released 3-6 months after the grapes are harvested and consumed soon after bottling (thanks wikipedia for that description).

We tried going to a place recommended by our host but it was full, so we decided to try another place I had researched.  The map said it wasn't too far but the map didn't really explain how uphill it would be so we went on a bit of a climb up to R. Dom Pedro V (the street).  
The Christmas decorations were still out in full force which I was surprised about.  It was nice being in a city still dressed up for the holidays. 

We ended up at Tapisco Lisboa.  We had to wait a little bit for a table, but there was a window facing the street from which you could order your drink and wait.  We ordered some tomato bread and a cod salad to start. I had some fish and Dave had steak. 

A quick snap of me at our apartment when we got home.

The next morning our plan was to get on the hop on hop off bus.  First stop breakfast.  We went down to a spot on the water called Deli Delux  It is a specialty grocery store but they also serve meals in the back.  This is basically my favourite breakfast, smoked salmon on a bagel, so I was happy.  Freshly squeezed juice and a latte finished it off. 

I thought we would be able to catch the bus at the train station right across the street from the restaurant, and although you can get the Blue Line, we wanted the Red Line and it didn't have a stop there.  Plus we wanted to buy tickets with a credit card, not cash, and that was not an option.  So instead we walked along to the Praço do Comércio instead, taking photos along the way of course.

This is a 16th century church that survived the great earthquake (tsunami and fires) in 1755.

This is the Praço do Comércio.

We bought our tickets at the Tourist Centre and then found our way to the bus stop.

Our bus had to take a couple of slight detours because of a protest taking place at the Praca Marques to Pombel, so we were delayed a bit.  Fun fact, the recording of commentary on the tour bus was playing Christmas music in the background, mostly Michael Buble with a little Boney M and Elvis thrown in.  They were really holding onto the holidays!

This little ship on the top of the light posts is a nod to Portugal's fishing and exploration history.

We finally got to the place where we wanted to hop off the bus.  I don't know the exact name of hte area, I think it was the Docas (or Docks), but it was under the Ponte 25 de Abril (the big bridge that looks like the San Francisco bridge).  There were lots of great views there and we then grabbed lunch at an Irish Pub.  
The restaurant was in this row of buildings below

Waiting for the bus to continue on our way.

Back on the bus, a view of the bridge from a different angle. 

Then we got off in Belém.  First we went to the Torre de Belém and got some great photos of this old building. 

Then we walked over the Monastery with the goal of getting the original Nata Tarts at Pasteis de Belem.  I love Portuguese tarts so I was excited to try these ones, however I've got to say I prefer the ones at Nova Bakery in Mississauga!! Is that fair of me to say?  We are pretty spoiled here in Toronto in that we get legit food from around the world.  That all being said, they were very good and we got a few extra to eat during the rest of our stay.

The detail!!

Then we walked over to the monument to commemorate explorers. 
This was on the ground in front of the monument. 

We had to pay to get up to the top but it was worth it and a much better view than you'd get at the Belem Tower.  

This is the bottom of the monument - at the front is the explorer and behind him are all of the people who contribute to his journey - military, map makers, clergy, etc. 

Then we hopped back on the bus to go home.  We had a nap and read and then we went on a little walk to the grocery store.  Since we were going to Sintra the next day we needed to pick up some food for a picnic to bring with us.  We took the back roads from Alfama to the Pingo Doce.   Quick photo on our way home. 


We had reservations for Cantina Zé Avillez which was the place we had tried on the first night.  The owner is José Avillez, a very well known Michelin starred chef, this is one of his restaurants for the regular folk like us.

A few tapas to begin.

Dave's octopus.  I had fish and it was delicious.

We still had room for dessert so we headed over to the Time Out Market.  This is a neat spot set up like a food court, but all of the vendors have been selected by committee and are mostly top local chefs. 
Lovely Christmas tree lit up in the Plaça on the way over.

Some sweets from Nós é mais Bolos and some wine.

Tomorrow we head to Sintra.


  1. You sure found some great places to eat and drink! I like the Christmas tree in the plaza. Nice you had sunny days and blue skies in your photos. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Such great shots and a beautiful adventure to start the year. Lisbon is on my list for sure!

  3. I'm excited to read about this trip as I've never been to Portugal. Some day...