Portugal: Strolling through Lisbon

When we booked our Portugal trip at the beginning of January for mid-February travel, I had visions of basking in sparkling, warm, Spring-like days and enjoying a lovely coffee and a delicious Portuguese pastry in an outdoor cafe. In other words, we were going to steal away to what I imagined to be sun-soaked Portugal to ward off the Winter Blues–just enough sunshine to get us through the rest of the dreary winter.

Best laid plans.

Before we left England, we checked the weather forecast and realized that Portugal was going to welcome us… with soggy arms. Indeed it rained each of the four days of our visit. But between downpours, we enjoyed a bit of sun. We didn’t sit outside in the cafes, but we did huddle in charming old-world buildings. We still managed to do a little bit of hiking, but it was mostly sloshing here and there during the day and then putting our shoes near the radiators as soon as we got to our hotel in the evening in the hopes they would be dry enough for the next day’s outing.

Our first day in Lisbon, we took the #28 tram from the Estrela neighbourhood (where we were staying) up to the Graça neighbourhood and then walked down through the twisty Alfama (Lisbon’s oldest district dating back to the 8th century) and into the Baixa (downtown district, totally reconstructed in 1755 after a major earthquake).

When I was trying to think of things to tell you about Lisbon, I came up with a bunch of words: welcoming, friendly, textured, old, older, cobbled, twisty, hilly, tiled, delicious, romantic.

But the one word that kept repeating in my head was “Underrated”.

It really is.

If Portugal isn’t on your list (and I am embarrassed to say it was low on mine–what was I thinking?!), please do consider adding it. Even if you only have a couple of days, you can still enjoy a taste of this charming country.

Next week: Sintra.

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About the Author: JaPRA is an expat Texan living in Boston (by way of London by way of Houston) with her husband (Mr. DJ), their 19-year old daughter (Roxi), and their dog Trudy.

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  1. Sandra says:

    Ai, my heart :-))
    So..What I love Lisbon by night! Thank you for the photos :-)
    You were very brave walking in my hilly city under the rain. It’s not easy.
    You stayed in Estrela. Very good choice.
    The Basilica da Estrela is a wonderful church and nearby is one of my favorites districts in Lisbon, Campo de Ourique.
    Lisbon has got a very special light during the day. That’s why the film directors like the city so much. It’s the true city -light (natural light, sun, the blue Tagus and the Ocean).
    Were you in front Martinho da Arcada? I can see that by the photo of the tram in Praca do Comercio. Did you enter there for a hot drink?
    Very good choices: the Castle, Miradouro de Santa Luzia, Rua Augusta, Rossio, Elevador de Santa Justa and you were in one my favourite places, Miradouro da Graca. The view, but also the toasts and the tea in that terras…during so many years, I went there…saudade…did you learn the word? :-)
    Thanks to bring my dear city to me! I’m very touched!
    Forget to tell you.. Lisbon was considered the Best Destination 2010 by Europeans Consumers Choice.
    See here: http://www.europeanconsumerschoice.org/winners-2010-1/best-destination-lisboa/
    Beijinhos and willing to see your gorgeous photos about Sintra. :-)
    PS: In the end of this serie, I would like to feature your posts in Presepio. Your photos are great! That one of the Elevador de Santa Justa and the last one…OMG! I would like to have this one as a poster in my living room :-)

    • japra says:

      Sandra, I am glad you enjoyed the photos! I LOVED Lisbon. When we were there, I kept looking at the Portugal guidebook and wishing we could have squeezed in at least six other towns. Well, there is always next time.

      I am glad to hear Lisbon was picked as the Best Destination. I think it deserves it!

      And I am so flattered that you would want to feature my posts on your beautiful blog! It would be an honour, my friend. x

  2. Julia says:

    Wonderful pictures! I was wondering what that tower was but I think Sandra mentioned it.

    I can just see your shoes steaming after a day of getting soggy!

  3. Invader_Stu says:

    I love the old style tram. Much better then the ones we have here in Holland.

  4. Sandra says:

    Japra,

    Do you know what I miss the most in my city? The 12th June, Saint Anthony’s Day.
    He was born in Alfama. His church which was visited by the Pope John Pau ll, is located in front the Old Cathedral.
    If you have the chance to go there in the 12th and 13th June, go and enjoy.
    You will see all the Lisbon districts represented in the Marchas de Santo Antonio. Each one has its own coreography, songs and clothes. They march along Avenida da Liberdade and a jury decides which one is the best of that year. After seeing the show, we climb untill the Castle to eat and drink. It’s completely crowded there. Sometimes, it’s impossible to enter in the Castle. Generally, we stayed next to the Se (the Old Cathedral) eating and drinking, or strolling in Alfama streets, all decorated with ballons and strips of many colours. You can join the dances and eat and drink. It’s for free. And don’t forget to drop a coin to Saint Anthony and buy a manjerico (smells so good!!) with poems dedicated to Saint Anthony. :-) Don’t put your nose in the plant, just touch with your fingers, so you get good luck in love for the rest of your live ;-) That’s the tradition!
    Thank you to bring me such good memories. :-)

  5. Aledys Ver says:

    How unfortunate t hat it rained so much. It somehow reminded me of our trip to Spain last year. We went there in May so we were actually counting on warm temperatures and a lot of sun. Well, we had snow and temperatures of -6!! And I took a summer jacket thinking I would not even use it :D
    Portugal has always been on my list and if it were not because I’ve promised my husband that he’ll choose our next holiday destination next time I’d be already buying a travel guide to Lisbon and looking for information (i.e. asking Sandra for pointers!) to go there! Beautiful pictures!! I guess that one should start by visiting Lisbon but the Douro region actually sounds even more attrative for me in particular.
    Is there more???? :D

    • japra says:

      Wow, snow in Spain in MAY?! I hope you do get to Portugal soon. I want to go back and see more more more! And yes, definitely the Douro region. I’d also like to see more of the coast. It looks very beautiful.

  6. Christine says:

    thank you for the gorgeous photos and a beautiful write-up. It looks lovely. Oh, did you enjoy the food?

  7. Maureen says:

    Portugal IS underrated. We were surprised how much we liked it and you know how I feel about the pasteis. Oh my!

  8. Oooh mooie! Thanks for sharing, the photos bring back wonderful memories from a year ago. Especially loved the evening photos. If you can fall in love with a place when it rains every day of your visit, it is indeed truly special.

  9. lucylucia says:

    Ohhh, it just looks so lovely. Absoultely beautiful evening photos, by the way! These pictures are getting me excited about coming back to Europe! The countdown has begun and hotels have been booked for 10 days in Spain this June!

  10. Amanda says:

    what a beautiful country, which you’ve captured so well in these images. i especially love the one of the tiled arcade wall, overlooking the sea.

    rain or not, hope your vacation is fantastic!

  11. Emm says:

    I am really keen to visit Portugal! It is in my top 5 but I am so glad you said it is underrated!

    I had to laugh in your first paragraph – it reminded me of our honeymoon in Spain in April 2002. It was cold, we, miserable and we both got flu!

    • japra says:

      Oh dear, I remembered it was “memorable” but forgot you both had the flu :(

      Hope you get to go to Portugal soon–and that it is nice and warm and dry when you go!

  12. Chris says:

    I have been wanting to go to Lisbon for a long time, and these photos make me even more anxious to go. Such great images! Thank you.

  13. Sónia Cunha says:

    My name is Sónia Cunha and I am a Leisure and Local Development MSc student at Coimbra’s University in Portugal. I’ll be working on a thesis, and the project’s goal is to study the emergence of the self catering tourist demand in Portugal/Lisbon, determining the profile of self catering tourist and its behavior patterns. My intention is to pursue a research where I could have a better understanding how the self-catering accommodation sector works. I was wondering if you it would be possibel to run my short survey to your friends.

    In case you got the opportunity to consider my request, or even given me your advice or suggestions, I’ll be extremely grateful.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Yours sincerely,
    Sónia Cunha – 918704066

  14. Sami says:

    The photo of the elevador de Santa Justa at night is just beautiful!!

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