Thursday, January 30, 2014

At Home In Lisbon

After spending the longest holidays in the UK, it was time for me to get a move on! The next big adventure on the list is South America, and the cheapest way for me to get there was to fly from Madrid (I  did my research).

Awesome! I’ve only really ever been to Barcelona… so I figured it would be nice to explore Spain for a couple weeks.

Although, my good friend, Lea, just came back from Lisbon on a holiday, and she loved it! She raved about the city and the food and the people… I’ve heard really good things from other people as well… so I consulted the map and figured out a route.

Flying to Portugal from the UK would only cost me about 30 GPB… and from there, I could make my way through the South of Spain – the Andalucia region, before heading up to catch my flight to Buenos Aires from Madrid. Commuting via car or bus or train would be easy… and I get to see more of the beauty of Spain that way too… So… YAY! Portugal – Booked! Andalucia – Booked! Madrid to Buenos Aires – BOOKED BOOKED BOOKED! And off I went!!!


A few minutes after I arrived – I liked Lisbon already! It just had a very welcoming atmosphere... Everything seemed easy and accessible, especially for tourists. A lot of it also has got to do with the hostel I was staying in, which I mentioned in the previous post --- Home Lisbon Hostel. Seriously, I cannot rave about this hostel enough. It’s centrally located, beautiful, super affordable, and just the best hostel I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering in all my travels. 


The city itself is very charming, mainly because of the tiles. They’re called azulejos and they are found on both the exterior and interior of most houses and buildings. These things just make everything so colorful, that it’s such a pleasure walking around or getting lost. It also has a lot of uphill climbs, which make for spectacular views when you get to the top.


It was probably not the best idea to be in Lisbon during my “No Carb January” diet, because there are pastries and pastry shops on every freaking corner! Lisbon --- Belem, in particular, is quite famous for these little treats called pastel de nata. It’s basically an egg tart pastry that sort of tastes like crème brulee to me… Crème brulee on a pastry cup! The original pasteis de nata, and the yummiest, can be found in Pasteis De Belem, a little restaurant in a town called Belem. Yes, I broke my diet just ONCE, to try ONE piece.

Tooootally worth it!

Belem, besides the treats, is actually a pretty good area to explore too. Check out the cathedral, the Belem Tower, and a few other monuments worth a snapshot!


So there’s this little area called, Bairro Alto. It’s Lisbon’s bohemian district and main hub for shopping and night life. It’s cute and really convenient because all the bars and restaurants are sort of clustered together. My new hostel friends and I had a really good time checking out the local scene… There are a lot of options, but we ended up in a teeny tiny little hole in the wall bar with live music, and we pretty much dominated the entire night with our inebriated states! Best night ever!


Visiting Sintra was my favorite bit of Lisbon… It’s a town about 45 minutes away from Lisbon’s center via the metro.  It’s a major tourist attraction because of all the palaces, castles, estates and beautiful buildings dotted around it! It’s so easy too… After the train, all you need to do is jump on a bus – The 434 or 435 bus takes you to all the major spots. It’s a hop-on hop-off deal too, so you either just pay 2.50 or 5 euro and you can use the bus as a shuttle that takes you from one attraction to the next!
It’s soooo beautiful….


I just can’t emphasize this enough. Home Lisbon Hostel was what made the trip for me. It seriously is the most amazing hostel I’ve ever visited. Great rooms, great price, amazing facilities and superb staff. Mama (the owners’ mother) cooks dinner for the guests every night (for an extra 10 euros). When she heard that I was on a “No Carb January” diet, she made me a special no-carb option meal! HOW amazing is this woman? I love her, and I love them. I don’t think this hostel could ever be beaten. So if you guys are ever headed to Lisbon anytime soon --- stay here. They are not paying me for this plug, by the way! This is honestly my opinion of the place, and I would go back there in a heartbeat. :)


Lisbon is a beautiful city. It’s so easy to be there. Everything is so accessible… It’s one of those places where you would welcome getting lost because every corner has something to offer. The food is great, transportation is efficient, and the attractions are spectacular. It’s the complete package, really! I would go back to Portugal to hang out at Home Lisbon Hostel, and maybe to also visit some of the other great cities over there, like Porto.

Next stop - Andalucia, Spain! :)