I sometimes think that perhaps I should have the decency to feel slightly ashamed that my travel posts are more than a year late.
….AAAAAND then sometimes I think BETTER LATE THAN NEVER! 😀
And we visit LISBON today! Beautiful Lisbon!
Home of the Bacalhau! Home of the most DELICIOUS Pasteis de Belem!! Home of THOSE GODDAMN PICKPOCKETS because I was almost robbed!!!!!
We begin our story on a beautiful summer’s day, where we find our protagonists Cheryl Adventare and Uminsummer wandering the streets of Lisbon, hunting for their AirBnB for a solid 15 minutes. Seriously, other than the horror of a hotel that was in Cinque Terre, this one came preeeeetty close. The host was pleasant enough, and the house was clean enough, but it was a good 5 to 10 minute hike up Rua Telhal every. single. day. It was steep. Also there was black mould in the bathroom and that doesn’t help too much.
But I digress.
Our kind host advised us to take a long and lovely (because it was downhill woohoo!) walk right through the middle of Lisbon, and immediately we set forth!
1. Strolling through the heart of Lisbon
From the train station São Sebastião, find your way onto the street Av. António Augusto de Aguilar (I love the alliteration, do you) and proceed to walk down towards the lush green park, Miradouro do Parque Eduardo VII. Thank goodness it’s downhill wew.
Alternatively, you could go visit the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum once you alight at São Sebastião, but that would be in the uphill direction, so we’ll save that for another day.
From there, just continue in the general downhill direction towards the roundabout Praça do Marquês de Pombal (you can justttt make it out in the picture above). But don’t get too distracted now! Our goal is to reach the plaza by the sea, so take the street Av. da Liberdade and soldier on!
But wait is that our dastardly Rua Telhal AirBnB to your right???
INDEED IT IS. Better hope your AirBnB isn’t hidden up a mountain and that it doesn’t have black mold in the toilet…….. (black mould is toxic, kiddos).
Down and down and down you walk. By then you’d have walked enough to pass the National Step Challenge with flying colours 😀 It’s mostly shaded by the buildings and trees though, so all is good!
Pretty soon you’ll hit this bustling square of sorts, the Baixa Prombalina, or Lisbon’s Lower Town. It’s a grid of streets, and there’s a Starbucks, H&M and Zara, which basically means it has hit all the criterion to be Cheryl-certified good. Yes, that is a thing now.
A little further down the streets and you’ll finally reach the Praça do Comércio, a beautiful and very yellow public square right by the sea.
An equestrian statue of King Jose I stands in the centre of the square. His horse is also stamping on snakes, if you see closely. There’s a story behind it, but I’ll leave it to you to find a local tour guide to explain it to you hehehe.
2. St. George Castle, and Alfama Old Quarter (also pickpockets!!!!)
A tourist hot spot this one, but you MUST go to St. George Castle, also Castelo de São Jorge, for your very own Game of Thrones moment. Get the audio guide!! And then explore every nook and cranny of this beautiful Moorish castle!!
Ok so STORY TIME.
Right after I took this photo, I was almost pickpocketed!! 😡We had left the castle, and were walking down out of Alfama, trying to find our way back to the square. Along the way, we noticed a guy consulting his map with the most urgent look on his face. I felt a little bad for how flustered he looked, and I had wanted to ask him if he needed help (we were using Google Maps on our phones), but there was something about him that made me wary. So we silently checked that our bags were tightly zipped and walked.
We also noticed a girl with him. She had her arms crossed and wore the angriest look on her face, so we thought: perhaps he had gotten them lost and she was mad at him. Poor sod. After a while more, we realised the guy was now walking alongside us, still consulting his map.
Maybe he was really hopelessly lost and wanted to follow us out? He was beginning to cut in front of us though, like he was trying to slow us down, and my sympathy quickly turned to annoyance. I quickened my face and tried to pull the biggest scowl I could.
At some point though, he seemed to lag behind. His head was still buried in his map though, but he was quite a distance behind, so I relaxed a little and lifted my camera to snap that photo of the red buildings above.
And that was when I felt the zipper of my bag being slowly pulled open.
I spun around in alarm, and there, barely 10 centimetres away from me, was the angry girlfriend. Waaaay too close. Her arms were still crossed, her face was still angry (and pruny), but my bag was open. She didn’t move. She didn’t blink. She was staring angrily at nothing in particular and it was like she was hoping that if she stayed absolutely still, perhaps she’d appear invisible to me.
Did you…open my bag?
And then she snapped. She screamed at me in Portuguese or some language I could hardly decipher. I was completely shocked. I was expecting a denial or something, but this??
I replied her defensive screaming (although she could literally be saying anything under the sun) with a very lame BUT MY BAG WAS CLOSED, AND WHY ARE YOU SO CLOSE TO ME!!
She threw her hands in the air and marched off. I just stared at her retreating back, aghast. And then I saw our lost man hurrying after her no longer consulting his map.
And that, kids, is the story of how I met a pickpocket.
3. Belém, home of the KING OF ALL EGG TARTS aka Pasteis de Belém
I know the title said “besides egg tarts” BUT REALLY? YOU CAN’T SERIOUSLY BE GOING TO LISBON AND NOT GETTING THE EGG TARTS!!
But there are egg tarts everywhere, you sigh in exasperation.
AH, but the Pasteis de Belém is the ONLY egg tart you will ever need. EVER. One mouthful and you will never go back. Nothing can ever compare, not even those other things posing as “egg tarts” you see hanging around the other shops in Lisbon. Nothing back home in Singapore came remotely close to being an egg tart anymore. The game is spoiled. YOU CAN’T GO BACK.
HOW TO GET THERE:
We took a tram to the parish (yes it’s called a parish ikr whut) of Belém. I think it was Tram number 15 from the Praça do Comércio (the yellow square with the man on horse statue remember), but of course this information is more than a year dusty, so please do research and don’t take my word for it hahaha.
There’s more than just the Pasteis de Belem to look forward to in Belem of course!
And then we left after buying two boxes of Pasteis de Belem because WHY NOT.
Lisbon is an incredibly beautiful place full of history and egg tarts to enjoy. 8/10 would recommend (minus 1 for the pickpocket and minus 1 for the black mould).
Just be sure to keep an eye on your valuables, otherwise you won’t have enough euros for them egg tarts anymore. And that is the last thing we want on a trip to Lisbon amirite!!!