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Lisbon roundup

Lisbon mosaic

You’ve seen all the photos from the individual days when I took the camera already, but I thought it might be useful to have a bit of a Lisbon roundup post with all the places we visited, as a sort of reference. If you have any questions about anything we did, shout in the comments!

Visitor attractions we visited:

  • Castelo Sao Jorge – Castle on top of the Alfama district (of which photos here), a nice place to walk around in and with amazing reviews of the city
  • MUDE Design and Fashion Museum – excellent collection of 20th century furniture and fashion, plus contemporary product and costume design. My favourite museum from that trip. Free!
  • Ocenario – the world’s second biggest aquarium and by far the best of these I’ve ever been to.
  • Museu Colecao Berardo – another fantastic free museum, and not just fantastic for being free. Berardo is a private contemporary art collector, and built this museum to house a rotating display of his thousands and thousands of pieces. All the 20th century greats are present and correct (list of names here – really v impressive). We kind of raced through it while Milo was asleep (there was quite a lot of installations, and I’m not sure how he would have done with the no touching rule) and we were starving and overheated, so I don’t think we fully appreciated how great it is
  • Da ladra flea market – a mix of proper flea market stands selling random stuff for euros, some more traditional market stall type places, and a few pricier and more upmarket antique and art shops in the permanent buildings.
  • Mainly we just did a lot of walking about in Cascais, the Barrio Alto and in Belem

Lisbon mosaic 2

In terms of food, we probably didn’t discover as we might have, partly because we were only eating during the day and partly because the first couple of days we found ourselves in museums at lunchtime and just ate in the museum cafeterias. But we did find some goodies:

  • Pasteleria Versailles – a fancy oldfashioned cafe (lots of mirrors, gold leaf and chandeliers) with waiters in black and white uniforms. We had these chocolate tarts that were just about the best chocolate thing I’ve ever had (second picture in the third row in the top mosaic). Not too sweet, and with a spongey base instead of hard pastry.
  • Antiga Confeitaria de Belem – The place where they (supposedly) invented the pasteis de belem/pastel de nata/custard tarts. They make them in industrial quantities, and when you sit down in the cafe yours will arrive hot
  • The Decadente – we had Sunday brunch in the lovely internal courtyard (last picture in the second row in the bottom mosaic).
  • Time Out Mercado da Ribeira – a posh food food hall next to a produce market. Lots of high end chefs and restaurant have stalls, so you can pick and choose. We only discovered this on our last day, if we had found it earlier, we would definitely have gone more than once because there were so many amazing things for sale (second last picture in the bottom mosaic and Dave with his burger in the second mosaic).
  • Cantinho do Aziz – a simple Mozambiquean restaurant on one of the cobbled streets going up the hill in Alfama. The main attraction is barbecued chicken, which they do on the street, but they also have a decent selection of veggie meals. It was the first time I ever had cassava (which was called manioc on the menu). I’ve always been intrigued about how it is prepared when seeing it in shops, but i don’t think I’ll ever go out of my way to eat it again. I could see it would work well as crisps, but as the starchy thing in a curry (which is what I had) it wasn’t my cup of tea. But apart from the cassava, the curry was v tasty and the samosas were top notch!!
  • House of Wonders – vegetarian restaurant in Cascais that does an amazing buffet (see pictures of that in my post about Cascais)
  • Gelados Santini – Massive selection of amazing gelato. We stopped at two different branches – the one in the shopping district and the one in Cascais (second picture in the top row in the second mosaic)
  • Pois cafe – lovely cafe with lots of sofas and toys for the kids. The kind of place you could hang out in for hours. We only had smoothies (third picture second row, top mosaic) but the food also looked good

:isbon mosaic 3

Some observations:

Although there wasn’t many kids out and about (we really saw very few kids between 1 and 5), people were SO nice to us and Milo. Older people in particular would stop and speak to him in the street all the time, and it didn’t seem to bother them at all that we couldn’t understand them. Also, people were so understanding of the crying/tantrums. We had two days when we were in restaurants while Milo was having his nap, and he totally lost it for ages after waking up. I know there would have been lots of eye rolling if this had happened at home, but the waiting staff and other customers were brilliant.

Kind of related to this, pregnant people are so looked after. We arrived in the evening on our first day and I went to the supermarket to get us some food while Dave stayed in the flat with Milo. It was the weirdest experience, I was queueing not paying much attention, when everyone else in the supermarket started talking at me and pointing, and practically shoving me to the front of the queue on the check out next to me. I was completely bewildered! Turns out the supermarket has a priority queue for people who are disabled, pregnant or have kids and I was the only person that fit that description so I jumped right to the front. “It’s the rules” said the checkout guy. And it wasn’t just that supermarket, I was waved forward in all sorts of queues and was always offered a seat on the metro. I kind of got used to it at the end and it was a bit of a bump back to reality when I got the bus to work on my first day back and no one offered me a seat!

Lisbon is very hilly. And because none of the streets are straight or at right angles, you really have no way of knowing where is up and down when looking at a map. Map distances are essentially meaningless as you’ll probably have to walk up and down several hills in a 15 minute walk. That being said though, the city is really walkable in terms of distances, and if I hadn’t been pregnant and we hadn’t had to push the buggy I wouldn’t have minded the hilliness at all.

The tiled buildings! They are everywhere, not just in the posh or touristy areas, and they look so good. The area we were staying in (Anjos/Intendente) is a part of the city I’m guessing most visitors don’t see cos it’s mostly residential and there’s really nothing there in the way of sights, and felt quite mixed, with people of lots of different ethnicities, which made me think that’s it’s probably one of those areas where rents are cheap so newer immigrants move there initially (this may not be true). It still looked totally gorgeous with all the tiled buildings!

Any travel guide to Lisbon I’ve read told you to go to Sintra, a hill town with two famous palaces that’s just a short train ride away. It did sound great, but as far as we could work out, we would have had to use buses to get around while there, and we didn’t really fancy

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  • Rhianne 22 April 2015, 11:11 am

    Great round up! We’re hoping to go to one day as we went to Porto last year and really loved it there – the tiled buildings really are amazing aren’t they!!

    • Franca 26 April 2015, 7:06 pm

      🙂 I’ve heard that Porto is great and the girl that let us in to the airbnb couldn’t believe we weren’t going because apparently ‘everyone’s been to Porto’!

  • Maria 22 April 2015, 12:43 pm

    I am going to Lisbon on the late May bank holiday – partly inspired by your Lisbon blog posts – so I may be getting in touch with questions! I love your round-up, and I feel a quest coming on to hunt down those chocolate tarts!
    PS we have already decided to go to Cascais rather than Sintra..

    • Franca 26 April 2015, 7:05 pm

      Oh awesome, have fun! Just email me if you have any questions!

  • karen 22 April 2015, 6:12 pm

    ha, i was instantly drawn to the chocolate tart and mug full of something that looks deliciously thick and hot! your photos have put portugal at the top of my holiday list. forgive me if i missed this in a previous post, but what was your accommodation like? any recommendations on favourite neighbourhoods to stay in? and how nice for you to be treated so kindly – if only the respect for pregnant women/people with kiddos carried over at home!

    • Franca 26 April 2015, 7:04 pm

      We stayed in this airbnb which was lovely: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/3409486. It’s in the anjos/indendente area, which was pretty residential, but just a 20 minute walk to the centre. I didn’t really get that strong a sense of distinctive neighbourhoods, the city’s not that big so when we were searching for airbnbs they were all pretty close to each other (except quite a lot which were in Belem, which is about 5km outside Lisbon proper), and we didn’t really narrow it down to a neighbourhood – plus we were limited because we wanted somewhere with a kids room with toys in. I guess in terms of neighbourhoods, the barrio alto was nice (lots of posh shops) and Alfama is very athmospheric, lots of tiny cobbled streets, though not the most accessible.

  • Jessica 22 April 2015, 6:27 pm

    Wow, now I want to go to Lisbon! Hat a fantastic post, thank you!

    • Franca 26 April 2015, 6:52 pm

      Thanks, and you’re welcome!

  • knitlass 23 April 2015, 9:35 am

    Lovely round up. Looks like you had a great time 🙂

    And who knew the Portuguese were so accommodating to pregnant women – bet that’s not in the travel guide!
    knitlass recently posted..Tidying and decluttering for families – a review of Marie Kondo’s ‘The life-changing magic of tidying’My Profile

    • Franca 26 April 2015, 6:52 pm

      Haha, no, it’s only relevant to a very specific audience!

  • Lorena 25 April 2015, 11:32 am

    Hi Franca,
    I really enjoyed reading about Lisbon and seeing the images. Little did i know it was hilly.
    Its one of the places that never makes it on my list… I really dont know why!
    Now that I’ve read about the flea market, it moved a few spots on my list… maybe next time I am around I can go there or maybe Andorra.

    • Franca 26 April 2015, 6:50 pm

      I would definitely recommend it!