Last night, I was looking through the photos from my weekend in Lisbon. Fado music was in full-swing on Youtube and I couldn’t ignore the feeling of longing to go back, the nostalgia just hit me. It made me laugh at how stereotypical this was. I have ‘saudade’ for Lisbon.
Ever since I started to learn Portuguese at university, Lisbon has been high on my travel wish-list. I very nearly went in July 2014, but somehow ended up doing a three-week tour of Poland instead – this was still a fantastic decision, I adore Poland! However, seven months down the line, this weekend I was able to take advantage of the night train from Salamanca and visit Lishh-boa for the weekend with Carrie and Becca.
The only negative thing about this weekend was the journey there and back, so let’s get this out of the way! The train left Salamanca at 1am on Friday night/Saturday morning, and arrived at 7.30am in Lisbon. However, as Portugal is an hour behind Spain as it follows GMT like the UK, this was really 8.30am to us, so this was a good 8 and a bit hours. That is plenty of time to sleep and although being exhausted, the seats were so uncomfortable. Oh how I wish beds on that train were not expensive! They don’t even invest in foot rests and the arm rests cannot be moved, so I managed to find myself in many strange positions trying to get comfortable. I felt the return journey was worse. The train left Lisbon at 9:30pm on Sunday night and arrived in Salamanca at the very early hour of 5.30am. The train was so rickety, the lights were not dimmed until 1am and I felt travel sick. By 2am, I had given up any chances of shut-eye. Luckily after a brisk 15 minute walk to my flat, I was in my nice cosy and horizontal (!) bed by 6am and stayed in bed all day, feeling very defeated by such hardcore traveling.
We rolled up to our hostel after catching the metro from the train station on the Saturday morning. It was well located and we loved everything about it. I had basically just looked up the most highly rated hostels in Lisbon on TripAdvisor and this worked! What impressed me the most was the breakfast; normally at a hostel, breakfast is a glass of cheap orange juice, sand paper for bread and cheese that doesn’t taste like cheese. Here, we were adorned with home-made waffles with nutella and cheese toasties amongst other things. It was such a great start to our two mornings in Lisbon and it made a lasting impression on me.
After leaving our bags at the hostel we were roaring to explore the neighbourhoods of Lisbon on very little sleep. In order to try and see as much as possible in a short time-frame, we decided to take a Free Walking Tour. I like doing these as they show you some cool places you may not find otherwise and the guides usually spot things in the street that you would never notice.
I’m glad we did this as we saw Bairro Alto, Baixo, Chiado, Alfama and a bit of Graça. However, the tour lasted for over three and a half hours and the tour guide would go on and on about all delicious Portuguese food we could try and it made me so hungry and upset that we had so much time of the tour left!
Afterwards, we swiftly made our way to a restaurant near the Praça de Comércio that our guide had recommended. I selected a very Portuguese dish, Bacalhau à Lagareiro. It’s basically cod, smothered in olive oil, with lots of garlic and onions on top, surrounded by ‘beaten’ potatoes. If you are still not feeling hungry, look at this photo:
I’m very much looking forward to going back in July to study there for a university summer course and exploring more of the city. There is so much to see, do and soak up, it’s impossible to really ‘feel’ Lisbon in a weekend alone. It was so cool to hear Portuguese in the streets as well and actually speak it in an every-day context, after only being able to speak it in academic situations up until now.
Lisbon is such a funky city, if I am allowed to call it that. It’s so vibrant with its bright wall colours of pinks and yellows, the patterned tiles on the outside of most buildings and its street art at every corner.
After our delicious lunch that was very much needed, we spent the rest of the afternoon in Belém, continuing with the culinary delights of the area, followed by an evening listening to live fado. On Sunday, we visited the beautiful and other-worldy town of Sintra.. I will follow all this up in my next blog post!
Hostel: Good Morning Hostel, Lisbon
Petiscos – tapas, Portuguese-style