After spending an amazing three days exploring Porto and Guimaraes in early-November, we were back on the train and en route to Lisbon. We’d already had a chance to explore the Alfama neighbourhood during our first mini-visit (read Lisbon Pt. 1 here), so for the second part of our visit, we decided to stay in Principe Real, an up-and-coming district.
Our arrival back in Lisbon was a bit marked: the weather was horrible – we were literally blown from Porto to Lisbon, and our cabby mistook the street name of our AirBnB for a neighbourhood outside the city. After driving around for more than 30 minutes, he finally waved down another cabby to ask for directions. So, when we arrived at our AirBnB we weren’t in the best mood.
The cabby dropped us off on the street and after walking through a gate we were met with what looked like a really nice shantytown – hundreds of little houses stacked on top of each other. The accommodations themselves were tiny, just big enough for two people. I wasn’t sure what to make of it; I immediately felt guilty: “what kind of a non-refundable hellhole did I book us into” I thought, trying to reassure it wasn’t that bad, but I knew Dave was feeling the same way.
That night, we went back and forth on whether to abandon our AirBnB and check into a hotel. After sleeping on it (and having an amazing sleep) we decided to stick it out (after all, it was already paid for). And, this turned out to be the best decision we made in Lisbon.
The AirBnB was perfectly located: walking distance to restaurants, bars and all the attractions we wanted to see. It was small (SO small), and the ladder up to the bedroom was at times terrifying, but it had everything that we could have needed in a small cottage in the middle of the city. By the time we left Lisbon, we were actually sad to say goodbye to our little hobbit hole of a home.
Our first actual day of exploring Lisbon was soaked. It poured rain all afternoon, as the evening approached it poured even more. I used the weather to my advantage and convinced Dave to go on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour (one of my most favourite, dorky ways to get to know a city). Given that the rain wouldn’t let up, we spent the entire afternoon on the tour – which was perfect! We saw so many locations that were out of the way and we wouldn’t normally venture to (including Parque das Nações, which was the exhibition grounds for the Expo ’98, and the Oceanário de Lisboa), and we were able to pinpoint a few spots we’d like to visit again.
Bairro Alto and Lisbon’s famous umbrella tree
And, everywhere in between
The driving force behind visiting Lisbon was the price of the plane ticket from Canada. Once we saw the number we thought, why not! And, I’m so glad we did. Lisbon was a wonderful mix of beauty and grit. Everywhere you looked there were beautiful and colourful buildings marked with bits of graffiti here and there. At first, I thought the city needed a power wash, but by the end of our two intense days of exploring, I was in love.
Not only was everything incredibly accessible on foot, but the people we met were amazing! I know we still have so much more to see, do and taste in the city and I’m looking forward to our next chance to explore Lisbon and beyond!
After two days of walking all over Lisbon, we decided to head a west of the city and explore another Portuguese city. The next stop on our tour took us to the stunning Cascais. Stay tuned; next week I’ll be recapping our day trip to this beautiful seaside city.
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