Last weekend, we were in Lisbon. Just Sunday to Tuesday, but we were so lucky with the flights that it felt like a proper, three day break. We`ve been here twice before, and we both love it. There is something really comforting in knowing your surroundings. It doesn`t feel that way, but I think discovering a holiday destination can actually be stressful.
Lisbon greeted us with the smell of sun and cigarettes, something which always reminds me of a particular summer at home in Germany. We took a taxi. There`s a bus every 20 minutes for EUR 3.50 per person, but the journey to Alfama is brief (20 minutes) and cost us EUR 19.00. Going back was EUR 12.00 because the driver worked with the people we rented our flat from. We were later told that the bus would have taken one hour.
Different flat at the same little square. First thing we did (after dropping our thick jackets and me exchanging tights and boots for sandals!) was check whether the cats were still there, and they were. Same cats lounging on the same cars; fat and healthy looking cats – people really want them because they think they`d otherwise have rats.
The weather was beautiful, proper summer by Scottish standards. It felt lovely to walk our familiar trails and let the sun shine on us, knowing that at home, the forecast was once again rain and winds. My husband hadn`t known until a few days ago that we were going, for this was his birthday surprise, and he said he still couldn`t believe that we were here.
We found a little restaurant in one of the side streets where we sat for probably two hours, ate good, fresh food and drank sparking wine (Vinho Verde). That`s how I imagined it, and it feels great to be finally doing exactly that thing, and then have your belly full and sit that little bit longer.
Jimmy took the heads and innards of the fish, and we fed them to the cats on the square. After another little walk past the supermarket, we spent the night in the flat with a bottle of wine.
I was pleased to wake at 7.30am the next morning. I like a lie in when on holiday, but not when I`m at a place like this for only two days. I made coffee, took a shower and then did what I said last night: I took my coffee and sat at the square. Without makeup, just me and my morning coffee (and my phone to take a pic and post it on facebook. Must must!), watching the square come to life – workmen were fixing a lamp, a little boy was coming home with a bag of bread, and an old man walking his dog tried to strike a conversation. “Ingles.” I wonder how long it would take me to learn Portuguese.
We took the Escalator Santo Justa (always been put off by the queues before, but today, we were early!) to Bairro Alto, which I’ll never ever get bored of. We sat for another two hours in front of a little cafe, my husband drinking red wine, and me freshly squeezed juice. We had a lovely conversation with a Belgian couple that had claimed the other side of our table, and the woman photographed us.
Meanwhile, I was hungry, but because the cafe offered mainly drinks, we went elsewhere – a really traditional, down to earth place that seemed aimed at locals, and which was exceptional value for good quality food. But the food is good everywhere! I never ate so well as I did in Portugal! We were fantasysing about what it would be like to buy an apartment and stay here for at least part of the year.
Bit of shopping, and then we picked up some cheese and Port for a quiet evening in. We finished the bottle while taking about the rest of our lives and went to bed at the same time as we would at home.
The next day, we got up early again and made all of this last half day count. I sat in a street cafe until literally 10 minutes before the holiday ended, sipping thick, frothy espresso and eating cheese and oregano toasties.