Lisbon is one of the last places a Flip would most likely visit when he goes to Europe, as this capital city of Portugal has not received the publicity it so richly deserves. But for anyone in search of an affordable European escapade, whether it be sunbathing by the sea, exploring a historical building or dancing in a crowded watering hole, Lisbon (Lisboa in Portuguese) is a very recommendable destination.
Lisbon is essentially a “walked” city. Although there is a subway that connects several tourist spots, it is not as complex as those of other big cities in Europe. There’s an uphill climb to reach Castelo de São Jorge or the Barrio Alto, for example, so light and durable footwear is advised.
The city is the best destination in Europe for seafood lovers like me. While most European capitals would charge you an arm and a leg for fish the size of a small banana, Lisbon prides itself with its rich bounty from its waters at very economical rates.
I’ve sampled a long and thick slab of bacalhao (codfish) coated in batter and fried to perfection in one of the restaurants around the Praça do Rossio, Lisbon’s main square. Crispy on the outside and super moist on the inside, it’s heaven on a plate. Lisbon is also famous for its pastries; the pastéis de Belém, custard pie topped with cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar, is a must-eat.
Nightlife and art in Lisbon converge in the Praça do Comércio and along the Rua Augusta. In the morning, independent artists and painters line this area in the Baixa Pombalina and offer the best of Portuguese street art to tourists and kibitzers alike. In the evening, the streets are lit up with festive bulbs and garlands and people pass their time eating, drinking, socializing and feeling the sea breeze.
Lisbon, however, seems problematic to the uninitiated for two reasons:
First, here would be a part in your map that seems odd. It just means that you have to take the Elevador de Santa Justa to reach the archaeological site of the Convento do Carmo. You could go walking, but why anyone would want to miss out on a ride in the city elevator totally escapes me. The Portuguese speak very good English (better than, uhmm, their Iberian neighbors, I would say) so you don’t have to worry should you get lost. Speaking Spanish is also a big advantage.
Torre de Belém
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
One thing that strikes me as a Filipino is that Lisbon is pretty much like Manila. The people are very accommodating. The food is great. The seaside is enthralling. Indeed, Lisbon is home away from home.