Portugal was a random destination we plucked off the map when it came to compiling the itinerary for this holiday. Regrettably, I didn’t do too much research into it – my assumption that it was going to be an extension of Spain ended up being completely off the mark. It was refreshing to actually be slapped in the face by culture shock !
Lisbon has the makings of a really big and popular tourist destination in the future, but right now, it still retains so much of its old charm without being too gimmicky yet. It is a bit of a step back in time; creaky trams going up and down ridiculously steep cobblestone hills, live jazz in the streets, grandmas watching you from behind run down window shutters, taxi drivers who don’t rip off tourists… While Barca was edgy and cool with a sense of somewhat refined wildness, Lisbon just felt more raw and unhinged (particularly when the locals come out to play on Saturday night).
Being underprepared and not having a properly working wifi connection or data meant that there were so many things we missed – for instance, I did not know there was a smaller (but still impressive) version of Christ the Redeemer overlooking the city until we saw it in the distance while at the harbour. The Monument to the Discoveries we discovered by accident, and was a grand structure that I could only stare at in awe. Fortunately, I can come back and really explore Lisbon and more of Portugal next year – I’ve been advised by some locals that the islands are really worth a trip.
The beach, architecture, food and history are a few of Lisbon’s many offerings. I feel like I’ve barely scraped the surface in 3 days (2.5 excluding the afternoon spent in bed with a fever). For anyone contemplating a trip to Europe, you must give Lisbon a shot! Just be warned that it won’t be as sweet a holiday for your glutes and suitcase wheels.
Btw, I must note this before I forget – people on European flights applaud whenever the plane successfully lands! The Joie de Vivre sure is real.