the place that most fascinated me
My story cannot be exhausted in a few lines, but I would need an entire encyclopedia, but as a good teacher I will try to be concise but comprehensive.
Given that travels have always attracted me and I was able to fulfill my desire, albeit partially, among the various places visited all interesting in various respects, the place that more than any other fascinated me was and remains the city of Lisbon in Portugal.
Even as a child this small country with a great history during the hours of geography at school stimulated my imagination, and made me imagine it as a fairytale country (it was the period in which Portugal, due to the dictatorship, was isolated from the rest of the world) . The first time I was in Portugal was in December of '97, a brief stop in the Algarve coming from Andalusia, but that was enough to induce me during the Easter holidays of '98 to go to Lisbon, and the Lusitanian nights made me literally bewitched, wandering the day through the narrow streets of Alfama made me feel at home, and the evenings and nights in the Bairro Alto gave me so much enthusiasm, and from the Miraduro of S. Pedro de Alcantara observing the Baixa and the Catello di S. Giorgio the mixed effect of scents and lights made me feel happy. From the nearby premises I perceived the poignant notes of Fado and all this gave me a great feeling of peace and well-being. At that moment I had decided that! that would be the city of my heart. Since that time I have been back several other times, for a few days or for almost a month, on all occasions, alone with friends or with the students of my school, and each time I have left leaving there a part of my heart in hope. to be able to return soon. This summer I have been there twice in July and in September, but I have already booked to spend the next Christmas and New Year and I count the missing days for the departure.
I am learning Portuguese, and I believe that maybe in my previous life (?) I will have been a Portuguese navigator, maybe Vasco De Gama. Obviously I'm kidding, but I don't think I can really describe the charm and magic of this fantastic and bright city, the city of saudade, of Amalia Rodrigues and Madredeus, of sardines asade and bacalhau, of azulejos and electricos, of ginjina and del Manuelino, in short Lisboa velha citade, chiena de encanto and de beleza.
A nice hug.
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We go to Portugal to relive the New Year in the city on the Tagus. A week in the alleys of Alfama, the Belem Tower, the Elevador de Santa Justa and much more
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We book online three months in advance with TAP trusting in an economic rate. Prices fluctuate from hour to hour, rise and fall. On December 30th we arrive at 16.00 (scheduled flight of the TAP regular. paid € 327 round trip online).
The city is melancholy, a little decadent or perhaps just decayed. maybe because of the rain and the season and the holidays, where everyone is very relaxed. A seaside city, although the sea is seventeen kilometers away, but there is a port, which is a river port, and there is this great river, which looks like a sea. But beautiful, happy with this melancholy, like an old lady who lives of past beauty, of past greatness. I had taken a guide from the library. a particular guide because it consisted of passages by more or less famous writers who wrote about Lisbon. Many of them talked about the sadness of this city, so much so that I brought the book back without reading it for how sad it made me. Also Tabucchi who wrote "He supports Pereira"set in Lisbon, has in its pages a vein of melancholy and even death. Perhaps a historical nemesis, due to the fact that they enriched themselves with the slave trade and colonial conquests. yes it occurred to me that it was the right punishment.
There are many, many old and beautiful houses, richly decorated but completely uninhabited and left to degrade to atmospheric events, with old barred shutters or broken glass left to rain, wind and pigeons. Then this tram rattling, small, for only twenty seated people and a few others "à pes" says the painted writing, all in polished wood inside, really authentic 30s! Red or yellow, which climbs up and down the many hills on which the city stretches. and every time I took it it took me to different places and I never got it right. ha ha! It was fun, very fun all of this!
It is hot, humid, so much to sweat, in the rain, intermittently like in a spring. Beautiful large apartment (there are six of us) taken on the Homeholiday website.
Albertino, the owner is very nice. The apartment has four large bedrooms and a living room, two bathrooms with bathtubs! A sitting room and a fully equipped kitchen including a dishwasher! I take the tobacco-colored one for myself, with a double bed, what a luxury! I suddenly feel happy.
Albertino takes us to dinner in restaurant with azulejos. We happily offer him dinner (paying only 21 euros per person). We eat bacalao on a bed of vegetables, large portion, tuna pate appetizers, almehas (clams). On December 31, we only have a daily metro pass for € 4.20, renewals after € 3.70. We decide to go immediately to Belem. We visit the convent of the Jerusalemites and the cathedral, examples of Manueline architecture which is a Gothic-Baroque typical of Lisbon. Impressive. The cathedral has the choir on a second raised floor at the beginning of the nave. Beautiful examples of stone carving, slender and very complex pillars, with very dense cross vaults, almost a stone net.
In the large square, we admire the large earthen mosaic depicting the terraqueo orb and a large compass rose. I photograph a spiteful wind and a sailing ship at the mercy of the winds and the map where Italy is located .... We admire the great stone prow of the monument to the conquistadors that juts out into the river - a river that often happens to call "sea" ... immense as it is !.
It is as impressive and proud as the courage and pride of this people who braved the winds and the seas. A trio of Chileans plays on the square: the conquered (!) Next to the conquistadors! This thought strikes me with the sad music of the Andean highlands. We climb - I with too much stupid enthusiasm! - on the monument, overcoming a very inclined marble surface higher than me, to take a souvenir photo of the group. But when I get too heavy on my left knee and I feel severe pain. I try to ignore it all day and walk and walk. Even the next day, the day when the pain will reach its peak, I will drag myself with difficulty behind the others who always run (salient feature of this group, which unfortunately I find myself not enthusiastic about).
Then the Belem Tower! Of a dazzling white in the sun suddenly escaping from banks of threatening clouds! The wind is so strong that it transforms the placid slow river into a stormy sea, of which I take several photos. At certain times the gusts are so strong that people are dragged along. I even decide to give up climbing to the top of the highest terrace, even for the huge queue.
For lunch we eat with only six and fifty euros a good and hot sopa, vegetable soup, and boiled squid with a side of salad onions and boiled potatoes. Simple, cheap and good food. Then we go to the oldest pastry shop in Lisbon to taste the pastelèis de nata! Which are sweet Pesantini. but for my friends this ritual seems indispensable.
Let's go home to rest for a while. It was a really good idea to take this apartment. You can also hear music while having a nice tea while chatting pleasantly in the lounge.
Since it is the last day of the year we go to a nice place that Albertino recommended. It is in a minimal but very elegant style. We take fondue – which is not the Aosta Valley fondue as we mistakenly thought - but only a slow and individual way of cooking meat, fish and vegetables in boiling oil. Let's just hope that this oil hasn't been used too much. Excellent wines.
We run to see the fireworks in the East, which is the terminus of the red metro, the place in the district built for the 78th Expo. It is the last night of the year! After looking in vain for a taxi we slip into the subway which is full of cheering kids (here most of the people are colored, of all colors to be honest).
We are with bated breath for fear of not arriving in time for midnight and just in time to get out of the cars that the crowd explodes in a collective shout of jubilation while the subway drivers sound the sirens at full blast: it is midnight! The old year goes away and the new one arrives!
Let's toast with sparkling wine in the large square just off the metro, under the fantastic modern architecture of Santiago Calatrava! We go back to sleep very tired. Incredibly, the metro disposes of the many thousands of people returning to the city in just a few minutes! On January 1st we go out late and lazily. Taking tram 28 we get off at Mirador de Santa Lucia, a viewpoint and a beautiful garden with a statue and azulejos and a veranda with bougainvillea that will be a show when they are in bloom! Now it's not the season. Then we go to the Castle on foot through the alleys of Alfama which is a beautiful old quarter. The walls go around and go up to the top. there is a beautiful sun and a splendid climate even if every now and then an almost lukewarm rain falls in short showers.
I buy a medieval-style tile with a zodiac sign and two t-shirts for the boys, and a very small azulejo (total 31 euros). We eat in a nice cafe, I take a sopa with cabbage - delicious! - despite it being 5pm. I go home to rest and I meet a group of middle-aged Brescians who are visiting the city during a long stop: they are going to Africa, in Guinea Bissau to work on building a village of solidarity. I congratulate these retirees who would love to add to them.
Tonight there is a tasting dinner at the Adega of the Kais, organized for us by Albertino. He comes to pick us up with a beautiful friend of his. One thing we didn't know is that Lisbon is one of the favorite places for European gays .. a place to live, for the liberality of the laws on the matter.
The place is an excellently restored old port warehouse, the downstairs walls, where we eat, have holes used as containers for wine bottles, the plank tables are of raw wood with rustic benches, the bathrooms are incredible! All covered in black stone up to the ceiling, and each toilet has a bidet next to it! However, it is the lighting that makes this place beautiful, the external walls of the ground floor are made of glass and host centuries-old olive trees. They bring us a lot of things to eat, the price was already fixed at 30 euros including drinks, the stuff is really a lot and nobody can finish it, the wine is not good though. Almost all dishes are based on fish accompanied with other ingredients, vegetables or beans. I can't even remember them. Unfortunately I can't socialize with Albertino's Portuguese friends, we Italians are on the loudest and most laughing side of the table. I even apologize to Albertino for our evident less seriousness than his very serious friends, who discuss the laws on the adoption of children by gays. On January 2nd we go to the flea market the so-called Feira dos ladras, a whole program. There I buy the typical Lisbon cockerel in colorful ceramic. Then we visit the Sao Vicente da fora church and the adjacent convent, 4 euros the entrance and inside we find beautiful azulejos on all the walls of the two large cloisters and on all the stairs and there is even an exhibition on the newly restored azulejos with stories de La Fontane. It would be nice to read them all but there are about 38 and there is not much time, and my friends run quickly towards the exit.
We eat some cottages filled with cod and cabbage near the Sé Cathedral. Going down towards the Baixa, we see the Rossio station, with its burgundy red railings and characteristic stairways between the old houses. We also climb theElevador de Santa Justa, to then find ourselves in the square in front of the ruined Gothic church. You go to see the National Gallery of Ancient Art by bus, in the beautiful large villa that once belonged to the Marquis of Pombal, overlooking the port.
Small nap in the late afternoon and dinner with fado. A nice blow to the bill! It comes in fact 50 euros the most expensive price paid so far, but they all sing in here, three singers the waiter and the cook!
I reach Praca Rossio and I enjoy a good coffee in the old patisserie where the barista makes me a short, Italian-style coffee without even asking her, just out of her courtesy! Let's go by metro to the Oriente station. We visit the center Vasco da Gama shopping center, where we have lunch. I opt for the usual delicious soup and sit on the terrace since it is not cold: there it is a beautiful view of the sea and the huge bridge and the cableway which we will take in the afternoon for a short distance. The place is called Park das Nacoes the neighborhood is similar to the EUR in Rome, large and spacious, with fountains that are modern sculptures. But I am not as enthusiastic as the old part of Lisbon which I prefer.
Pasteleis de nata in Praca dom Pedro, the one with the liberty fountain after the African sculpture exhibition which is now free. I take a tram 28 and once again it does not take me where I intended… I take another one and arrive home. Rest and dinner - the last one - in the restaurant right in a small street next to the apartment. Nice dinner. Soup for everyone, clams and fajoada with pork and prawns, exquisite. We spend 25 euros. We didn't want to eat a lot but we didn't understand each other on the portions of the prawns. Excellent wine again, almost always gods very light whites, my favorites.
We pack and wake up at 4 and 11, I hardly slept. But maybe I slept thinking not to sleep… the journey is over. It was all very interesting.
All 'Portela Airport, about 7 km from the city center, both scheduled and low cost airlines land. We took a very comfortable easyJet flight from Rome. Flight duration 2h40m.
The cheapest way to reach the center is definitely theAerobus (service active from 8 to 23, departures every 20 minutes until 21, then every 30 minutes). Take the airport exit: on the right, in front of the taxis stopped neatly in a row, you will see the shuttle stop which, in half an hour, will take you to your destination (we are talking about the furthest stop, otherwise travel times are even minors!). Tickets can be bought at the desk at the stop or directly on board. Ticket cost: € 4 which is valid for the next 24 hours. DO NOT throw it away, because you can reuse it on all public transport, including the Elevador San Justa and trams 28 and 12!
At the desk, take the Aerobus map because all the way from the airport to Cais do Sodré there are also indicated the stops near the most important hotels.
During your stay, buy the card Long live Viagem with only 0.50 cents and top it up with the desired amount (we recommend € 5.00 to take advantage of a daily ticket including all means of transport, including historic trams and the metro) at the machines that work very well. After inserting the card, the validity of which will be validated by the machine - lasts one year from purchase, you can enter the amount with coins or banknotes.
I have dreamed of Portugal for years. It is one of those destinations for which I have always thought: but yes! it's around the corner here, a few hours' flight, I can go there whenever I want. About ten years have passed since that first go whenever I want. If I could go back I would have taken that flight much earlier.
Lisbon is the first destination, and Lisbon is nostalgia. Seaside cities always have a big impact on me: the cool breeze, the seagulls, the saltiness in the air.
Three days in this city are few, but at the same time they are a good reason to return, to discover corners that have been kept hidden.
Here is what you will find in this article
BAIXA. It is the lower district of Lisbon, made of large and beautiful buildings. A intertwining of streets where there are many shops, ideal for shopping or just for walking away from city traffic. Sneaking into some back streets you can find craft shops, which you can only fall in love with.
ALFAMA. There true soul of Lisbon hides inside the Moorish quarter of Alfama. Narrow alleys that climb up making you discover squares, small glimpses and great views. And then the fado, the melancholy music that you hear in the air, that comes out of the windows and accompanies you along the road.
BAIRRO ALTO. Here the azulejo, the famous tiles of various colors, are at home. In the old part of the city, the houses are covered in unexpected colors. Here too the music of fado takes you back to a parallel dimension, you travel back in time, in a slow rhythm, suitable for savoring every corner. Small shops, artisans, cafes where you can eat excellent dishes in the Portuguese tradition.
BELEM. One of the most touristic neighborhoods in Lisbon, I loved it! Thanks to the sunny day and a lemonade with mint to sip along the Tagus river! There Tower, a Unesco heritage site and a symbol of the district, it was a fortress for the maritime control of the city. A surveillance tower therefore for all the ships that transported fabrics and precious stones. Walking through Belem you can reach the monument dos descobrimentos, with sculpted all the Portuguese characters of the colonization period.
And don't forget to eat the pasties, the typical Lisbon sweets that are said to be tastier in Belem! When in doubt I ate them in various parts ... and I still dream of them at night!
I stayed at the Inspira Santa Maria Hotel located in an excellent position to reach the center on foot, and close to the metro stop for the lazy! Modern design and great breakfasts! I also recommend the hotel restaurant ... sublime dishes!
If you like the sea you can't get lost Praia Grande. It is located on the Atlantic coast, not far from Sintra. It will be full of people, the beach will be crowded, but it will also be of unique beauty! Surfers waiting for the perfect wave and the ocean with its roar to keep company.
There are not many hotels in the area, I came across the one that boasts the largest swimming pool in Europe. Decadent building that was perhaps a super luxury hotel in the golden years has the particularity that all the rooms have an ocean view ... not bad!
Basing here you can move to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in all of Europe. I recommend a visit at sunset, and melt in front of a spectacle of nature!
For a fish dinner go instead to Cascais, stroll through the streets of this characteristic seaside town and eat good fish, you will not regret it.
And if you want to go further south in search of beaches, you can head to the region ofAlantejo.
Do you love the sea, surfing and idleness? Stop at a surf camp! Do you know what is it? A campsite focused on sporting activities, in which surfing obviously prevails with instructors who teach the techniques of this beautiful sport. You sleep in a tent, eat with your feet in the sand and meet people from all over the world. For me it was a super experience, but unfortunately I found the sea with flat calm, and no wind to learn to surf, so I dedicated myself to idleness!
Have I convinced you? Power! Book a flight to Portugal!
The trip was made in September, for a week. Perfect time, without the chaos of tourists.
From Venice I flew with the TAP, to always monitor the fares, I found an affordable price a couple of months in advance.
I highly recommend an experience in a Surf Camp. I was at the Dream Surf Camp, it is ideal for children (aged six and up), as a lifestyle and as a spectacular location on the ocean! You sleep in tents with a wooden structure, and the Camp provides everything, mattresses and blankets. Prices are great!
Portugal turned out to be a very cheap destination, I ate sublime at very reasonable prices.
A visit to Lisbon would be incomplete if you hadn't tasted its exquisite cuisine.
Its main meals are fish, meats, cheeses and soups.
In the city you will find many restaurants that will offer you its most typical dishes such as the fish recipe, the green soup or the cod with presumed.
You can not miss a delicious dessert, the most representative is the twelve o rice the most characteristic desserts, the pastéis de Belém.
If you decide to visit Lisbon you are spoiled for choice in terms of hotels, and most of the best value for money are located right in the downtown districts. So I recommend you find one right there, to be comfortable especially if you want to go out in the evening or take a break in the afternoon.
I've been to Lisbon several times, and that's why I take the liberty of recommending the 10 hotels that I think are right for you. In several of these I am personally there, while others have been suggested to me by super trusted friends. The average prices that I indicate to you refer to room per night, for two people.
If you think that the hotels I have suggested are not for you, no problem. Below is a map to give you a complete overview of all the hotels in Lisbon among which you can choose the one that will host you during your visit!