Click Here to see all my Photos from Lisbon. Photos were taken with a Panasonic Lumix TZ-70.
So 2 nights in Berlin, 2 nights in Budapest…I finally get some extended time in a city with 4 nights in Lisbon. Because of my last minute changes for my trip, my first night was spent in a Hotel on the other side of the bridge in Almada because I thought I would sit on the beach next to the Hotel. Of course, I landed and was so tired that I didn’t leave my room and never made it to the beach. The next morning I headed into the city of Lisbon and stayed at Lisboa Central Hostel. First let me say, I absolutely loved staying here, great staff and a nice welcoming environment. I highly recommend if you’re visiting the city.
When I go to cities, I like to go with minimal plans and just figure out what I want to do on the spot. I did a quick google search for Lisbon attractions and saw that they had a castle. “I’ve never been to a castle” I thought, “It’s only 35 minutes away walking, no problem”. Whenever people told me about Lisbon, you hear about how nice the city is but no one ever tells you that you’ll be walking on an incline half the time. Also google has no idea either, it just sees a street and says go that direction. The castle is at the highest point of the city and you’re walking up these steep inclines. I was tired and sweaty by time I made it to the top which is what everyone wants to feel while on vacation. Fortunately when I made it to the castle I ran into a wonderful couple from Manchester, Hayley and Masiye. This was their last day in Lisbon before heading back home and the castle was one of the last places they were going to see. We talked while walking around the castle and even afterwards about where they were from, healthcare systems, sports and of course, politics. Masiye is unfortunately a Manchester United fan but he’s still a great guy. I never really considered visiting Manchester but I would go just to see them again and they even welcomed the idea.
The next day was a day I had been looking forward to for at least a month. Thanks to Triple.co Tours, I was connected with Miguel from Classic Lisboa Ride for a 3 hour tour in his classic Datson. Miguel is from Lisbon and he knew the city like the back of his hand. He took me to different points of the city and explained why we were going to each location while giving me the history about the different areas. He was entertaining and educational 3 hours with him. This is a unique touring experience and if you’re coming to Lisbon, definitely consider having one with Miguel.
After my tour, I walked back to my hostel and was bit tired but at the same time I wanted to start posting on my blog. I sat in the common area and just started typing when I very nice woman (Mariana) walked in with a yellow shirt, yellow umbrella and a smile on her face. She asked me with enthusiasm “Do you want to go on a walking tour?”, I replied “I’m a little tired, are you around tomorrow?”, “No sorry just today”. I trusted my gut and just said “Screw it, sure…I’ll come!” Let me say, that was the best decision I made my whole trip and I’ll explain further. We walked together to the meeting point for about 15 minutes and in a short period of time I learned a lot about her. I really enjoyed her personality and how she was open enough to share her brief life story with me. She’s a great person and a wonderful tour guide. Find her on Instagram for tour info.
We made it to the meeting point and after gathering up more tourists, we all introduced ourselves and said where we were from. In our group, we had a bunch of Germans that all knew each other. A little side note, I’ve been learning German since last year but I don’t get to practice speaking often, so when I find Germans, I try my best to have a conversation with them. I started talking to one of them in German and another one overheard me and said with enthusiasm “OH MY GOD YOU SPEAK GERMAN?!” Her name is Gianna and I started talking to her in German and English majority of the time on the tour. She was also with her friend Julia who was very happy when I pronounced her name properly. After the tour was over, Gianna and Julia wanted to have some authentic Portuguese food and invited myself and a Frenchman named Pierre. We went to a restaurant called Super Mario and Mario spoke no English which made the experience funnier for us. Lots of pointing and guessing. We made it most of the way through our dinner and 2 French women (Jennifer and Johanna) from our tour showed up. So now all 6 of us are having dinner, laughing and chatting. The food was good and I was with great company. The funniest moments for me was when Mario brought over the plates of food and dropped it on the table and left and also when Mario seemed to just make up a number for our final bill and wrote it on the table cloth.
But why let it stop at dinner? We walked the streets and found a dive bar to continue our conversations. Apparently this bar doesn’t know what overpouring is and serves in massive plastic cups. I’m convinced that 3/4 of my Vodka with coke was actually vodka. Either way, we had a great time I personally felt like we formed a great connection. All of this happened because I just said yes to a tour.
Ok, my last full day in Lisbon. The night before, I found out that Johanna stayed in the same hostel as me and Jennifer stayed in a hostel one street away. Gianna and Julia were busy, so us 3 decided to explore the city with a different walking tour that went to a different side of the city we hadn’t visited. The tour we took was alright but hanging out with Jennifer and Johanna was really fun. It felt like we traveled to Lisbon together but a day before we were all strangers.
After the tour, we decided to take a bus to see the Belem Tower. The tower is basically on the edge of the river and has beautiful architecture. Tourist mode kicked in and just started snapping pictures of the river and the surroundings.
By time we were done, it was around 5 PM and Johanna had to leave us, so Jennifer and I stayed together to explore the city on both of our last full day in the city. The time I spent with Jennifer will always stick out in my head. Talking to her was very easy and we talked about everything. I personally found her life perspectives to be interesting. I’m always impressed when I meet someone who can speak multiple languages fluently as I understand how difficult it is. We both also know the trials and tribulations of working in a Call Center. We stayed together till about 2 AM when we finally parted ways.
My final thoughts: It is not everyday that you meet special and like minded people. I feel extremely fortunate to meet so many in a span of a few days. When people ask me about Lisbon, it’s so hard to only describe the city and not the people I met. I feel extremely fortunate to have met every single one of them and I plan to stay in contact with them. Don’t be surprised if you see me visiting some of them in the future.
As for the city itself, it’s beautiful and unique in a different way than other big cities. The city has almost a village feel where neighbor helps out neighbor. Lisbon is having an economic and tourism boost and you can see it in play with all the construction going on with older buildings. Because there are so many hills, there are a lot of high view points where you can see the city well. If you are considering going to Lisbon, do it. Bring some good walking shoes, prepare for walking up hills and have a great time.