I had no idea what to expect when I first hit the “purchase” button on my flight to Lisbon [and returning from Barcelona]. Lisbon had been on my “places to visit” list mostly because I didn’t know a proliferation of people who’d actually been there.
So, on to my Top 5 reasons [in no particular order]:
Reason #1: An interesting way to tour around Lisbon – Go Tours
They’ve got GoCar Tours in Lisbon [as well as a few other cities around the world]. I was interested in doing something I haven’t done before. I’m constantly searching for new [for me] fun ways to experience new locations. I found the GoCar Tours site after a quick search on the internet and was immediately intrigued – the bonus? They had a special promotion for bloggers who take this tour for the first time!
I’ve never even ridden a scooter before but there I was tooling around in a foreign country in a bright yellow amped up, souped up go-cart! Belem was my chosen destination and what a fun [if not a bit too bumpy due to potholes and cobblestones] way it was to experience the trip. I like the convenience of those big hop on/hop off tour buses in that they hit the major sites that I want to see but they are SO incredibly boring, I end up falling asleep on them. The GoCar was hands on and was a thrilling way to view parts of the city [not to mention that it was easy to find a spot to park it!].
One piece of advice: Be sure you rent for several hours instead of the 90 minutes that I did. I regretted not having more time to play around the city on that thing.
Reason #2: The food and wine
I didn’t delve too much, technically, into the wine scene in Lisbon. I just drank and enjoyed [and drank a LOT more]. I found out that a lot of the producers have such a small lot that they don’t ship out their wines outside of Portugal. Those hoarders.
The seafood in Lisbon was fantastic. Fresh, interesting and grilled so perfectly – crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside – that I thought it was deep fried. The sardines were HUGE. I mean…how do they find sardines so huge? I thought they grew in a can with mustard or various other spices.
One of the Porto wine stores I visited [and subsequently bought stuff from] informed me that the Portuguese olive oil was complex and excellent. I tried some of it and was duly impressed, right along with some of the cheese selection he offered. He proudly shared that Portugal has some of the best quality cheeses, wines, olive oils, and meats around.
Reason #3: The beauty of the city
I am not a museum person. I walk through museums looking at paintings on the walls, appreciating the complexities of light, texture, and precision of the art. It’s very rare that these 2 dimensional object d’art will inspire me to linger longer than a few minutes. Instead, what inspires me most are the buildings and nature…everything that this 3 dimensional world can offer!
So it should come as no shock that most of the time was spent meandering around the city, walking around, and getting lost [we got lost a lot. unusually so]. I carefully walked throughout the city since I had this very bad habit of spraining my ankles whenever I walk on flat pavement so you know that cobblestone was a personal joy for me. I loved looking at the beautiful tiles on the walls and the interesting cobblestone artwork. There’s just nothing like it.
Reason #4: The people
Everywhere I went, the people were so warm and friendly. Portuguese is very difficult to pronounce. Luckily, it wasn’t an issue since so many people had a rudimentary grasp of English.
Everywhere we went, people were so willing to share their heritage and knowledge with me that I felt like I was missing out by not staying longer in the country.
Reason #5: The value
The cost to play in Lisbon was an outstanding value. We had some very great meals for $30. I loved hearing that my breakfasts only cost me $5 – something I rarely hear when I travel in Europe. The cost to get in to various attractions and transportation were also a lot more reasonable than in other parts of Europe.
All in all, I wish that I had spent more time traveling throughout Portugal than just the one city. The people are friendly, there’s a lot of wonderful food to eat, the architecture is awe inspiring, and Lisbon just took my breath away…