Portugal_Lisbon: City of Colourful Tiles

Lisbon, nowadays everything else than unknown for a short city trip in Europe, pretty ‘en vogue’. A must visit when in Portugal – and I truly can’t deny that. We spent three nights in Lisbon and I could have spent few days more so easily. It wasn’t a surprise that the city amazed us from the very beginning, but there is always something to uncover you may not expect… 

For me, there were mainly three reasons that made the city a place to stay: first, the colourful tiles you can find at almost every house in downtown area (and I guess even in the outskirts). I fell in love with that tile city style in Marrakech this March already (find the article about Medina Marrakech here), and I was sure, there is nothing comparable – but Lisbon definitely comes close. It’s totally different compared to Marrakech’s mosaics, of course, but the artistically coloured Lisbon tiles, often in blue shades, create their own little atmosphere.

The second reason that makes Lisbon so special for me is the steepness of the terrain – not without a reason called ‘San Francisco of Europe’ – although it should be the other way around?

Third reason is the location directly at the sea. Breath-taking view and open port to the world. What a place for someone travel-hungry! Just imagine your look right along those steep-rowed house walls decorated with colourful tiles, directly towards the sea… hmm…

 First thing I was keen on visiting was the Time out Market, or better known as the Mercado da Ribeira. There are two areas of the market: the fancy food hall, everything in consistent style, mainly in black and white, and the second area, I would say an authentic indoor fruit and vegetable market. If I have to decide, I liked the fruit and vegetable area more – it felt more ‘real’ to me, although I could see the fine quality in that fancy food hall too. But in that case, it was simply too much for my taste – a little less strict concept, and for me, this market would be a great place spending some more time. However, the food lives up to its promise. High quality, fresh, local sometimes organic, nicely presented – we took the famous Portuguese dish ‘Bacalhau’, which is codfish in all preparation ways you can imagine. Tasted very good. I liked it.

  Next, we decided to walk along the harbour to get to the LX-Factory; again one of the fancy locations I would definitely recommend. The old factory is nowadays a place for fashion, fine arts, architecture, as well as modern restaurants and bars. Exactly what I was looking for. We spent some hours there to have lunch, drinks and just looking around. I really liked it, but maybe not the perfect place for everyone’s taste. 

Bairro Alto, the charming district where our apartment was located; at the same time Lisbon’s meeting point for a fun night out – surely not the only one. For dinner we went to the area around Rua Barroca, Rua do Diário de Notícias, Rua do Norte and Rua das Gáveas – a very bustling area, which you shouldn’t miss when in Lisbon. We tried different wines and ate some fish and enjoyed the busy streetlife. By the way, if I haven’t mentioned yet – Portugues people are truely friendly and welcoming. I would say that I haven’t experienced such hospitality often in any other European country until today. Honestly amazing and made our vacation to trip with… somehow friends.

Vacation approached its last day and still so much to see and do, so we had to compromise. We decided to take a ride with the famous tram N28, which lasted two stations only. Too many people, also tourists, and it was not really comfortable. So we decided to skip the ride and give local people the chance to get to work in time ;-). But even during a two station trip I developed huge respect for the tram driver. What he was doing on hand work to move the tram forward was amazing. Funny to watch how one guy works while the others enjoy the city views (or get to work). Short but nice experience – next time we will choose another daytime for such a tram ride. We had still some things to buy not at least because in Europe you get most things, like clothes, much cheaper compared to Jordan, and so we made a side trip for shopping at the huge shopping centre, El Corte Inglés.

 Later the day: Alfama, true historic district of the city. You can find there most of the older sights, like Castelo de São Jorge or Ingreja of São Vicente de Fora etc. But we were not hunting for these, we were more interested in strolling around and getting a hint on the lifestyle. I highly recommend exploring Alfama areas when in Lisbon – narrow alleys, beautifully illuminated, and lots of authentic restaurants directly at the street. Not to miss the outlook named Portas do Sol; you get a fantastic view above the sea and parts of the city – we were lucky to find this place just by chance.

It was already sunset and we decided going back to Bairro Alto for our last dinner in Lisbon. On our way we grabbed some Natas  and an espresso – couldn’t resist. After another night in Bairro Alto, day of departure came – and why not starting the new day like the old) ended? Some Natas and coffee at a small Portuguese street bakery. I saw it clear…. I will be missing this pastry. Of course, also all other little details of this beautiful city. In three days only I couldn’t see it all what Lisbon has to offer… but there is never a better reason to come back one day…

Cheers with sunbeams.