I always find starting these travel posts to be so challenging. Where to even start? Visiting a place for the first time induces a cocktail of feelings and emotions ranging from exhiliration to anxiety. And when I mention anxiety, I am referring to the mental state you enter upon letting go of your usual surroundings. The word anxiety often has a negative connotation, but here, I'm speaking of that unestablished, maybe even unstable, "freed up" mental state that commences when usual routines are suddenly absent and your mind is trying to make sense of the newness being encountered. What kind of excitement would travel be without the uncertainty that accompanies?
I always desire to convey a place so thoroughly, making you feel as though you are really there, but that level of completeness is only possible to experinece in person.
There's a saying that my biology professor used often, "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts." I love applying this in so many areas... here, my words and photos only show you parts of Lisbon. But still, I hope I can convey a small part of the city's character.
Lisbon is often compared (for those of us in the U.S.) to San Francisco. Grographically and topographically, the two share so many similarities. One of my favorite things to do in Lisbon (and we did pretty much every day) was find a perch somewhere to overlook the city and it's rooftops. Luckily, there's no shortage of viewpoints all accross the city. Just a few of our favorites are:
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol- beautiful place for taking photos. The contrast of white buildings and red roofs is so charming. Plus, you have the Tagus River, National Pantheon, Church of Santa Engrácia, and the Monastery in view. It is really spectacular at any time of day.
- Nossa Senhora do Monte belvedere- also called "Our Lady of the Hill", it's such a fun climb if you take a tuk-tuk! This is the highest point in Lisbon.
- Castelo de São Jorge- I mostly enjoyed the viewpoints in which the Castle was visible, but the scapes a FROM the actual castle should not be missed! There's an outdoor cafe up there that has wine and phenomenal gazpacho!
There were so many more, but these few rendered our favorite photos. Not only that, we found it to be a place to linger and take it slow. Especially the Castle, where there are places to sit all along the outer edge of the castle to enjoy the view alone or with a companion. Although the Castle is usually crowded, this was still a nice quiet place to take a break from the busyness of Lisbon.
The neighborhoods of Lisbon are so cool. I think we found ourelves winding through Alfama and Bairro Alto almost everyday (BA is where the late night foods is.... so no doubt we hit it up). These neighborhoods have multiple layers of deep, complex history that extend out and define Lisbon as a whole. If you're in Lisbon, I highly reccomend taking a few walking tours to learn about the history of these neighborhoods such as Alfama, Mouraria, and Bairro Alto.
One of the neatest experiences in Lisbon was admiring the city from the viewpoints where you feel as though you are on the rooftops, then venturing down the narrow, winding streets (I highly recommend getting lost in those streets) and into the neighborhoods. The difference in perspectives is truly immersive, and it's a good way to get a feel of local life. We loves wandering through Bairro Alto late at night. The tourists are replaced with local Lisboans who are out enjoying each others company over drinks or dinner. We loved inconspicuously melting into the crowds at night, navigating the tiny coblestone streets with no agenda.