Experiencing New Year’s eve celebration in a different country is something you must try before kicking the proverbial bucket. Away from the comfort of your own home, taking part in another country’s traditions. There is something special in partying with the locals, meeting the New Year when the needle hits 12 and gazing at the fireworks. That was the plan we booked our 4 day trip to Lisbon.
In October, something happened that would change our trip. The collapse of Monarch Airlines. We were due to fly in to Lisbon with RyanAir and fly back with Monarch leaving us with no way of getting back. A single return flight with RyanAir is just shy of £250. We were reluctant on splashing out on this flight, this was nearly as much as an Emirates round trip ticket to Dubai. We waited. A bright spark came to my mind, like a shower i was consumed. What about a Multi-City Trip? I quickly ran some tests on Skyscanner; Lisbon-Rome-Manchester, Lisbon-Prague-Liverpool – it was quite fun trying to find the best combination for the cheapest price. After numerous attempts, I finally found the one. The capital cities of Lisbon, Madrid and Amsterdam. The three extra flights to get home worked out cheaper than buying that one way ticket home from Lisbon however, we had to extend our trip to 7 days total. We were going on a New Year Euro Trip.
Greeted by the mild winter climate, Lisbon is a unique capital city. Using our AirBnB host’s instruction on how to get the room, the subway system was simple with only 4 underground lines. The walk within the city was certainly interesting. Small, cobbled streets placed on multiple hills while dragging your luggage was the most difficult thing I had to do during the trip. My poor fitness level was stretched to the limit and the luggage wheels took some beating. When we finally arrived at our accommodation, it was a small town house with our room in the basement. Once settled, we wasted no time in seeing what this city had to offer.
‘A capital city that doesn’t take itself too seriously’
I was homing in to something Lisbon is extremely renowned for, the Pasteis de Nata. There are different shops in the city offering their different versions of the sweet treat, but we made our way in to the original and best; Pasteis de Belem. The queue was extremely long, going outside the shop in fact, but my God, it was worth the wait! Looking for an ideal spot to eat our pasteis de nata, we headed out towards Jeronimos Monastery and the surrounding park. It had a beautiful park and the view of the now museum.
After devouring 2 packs of heaven, we decided to burn some of the calories off and walked towards Padrao dos Descobrimentos. The monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries and a symbol of Portugal’s success in a time where the Europeans were fighting over the New World.
A view behind the monument and by the river is the 25 de Abril Bridge. Looking like one of the San Francisco bay bridges, it is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge. Relaxing by the Tagus River, the views were breathtaking. The English grind was wearing off on me and the Southern European laid back philosophy has already taken over me, and that’s just day one.
The sunset was beautiful, locals and tourists mingling, young and old. It made me forget all my troubles in the world. Time to head back to the room.
Day 2 and our last full day in Lisbon, our travels brought us to Praca do Comercio. Considered to be Lisbon’s main and grandest square. Remnants of Christmas still linger in the air, with the smell of roasted chestnuts and poorly dressed Santa Clauses. The courtyard had scaffolding and stages due to a Fado concert, a form of Portuguese folk music, similar to the Spanish Flamenco. It made the place a little littered, and I couldn’t appreciate the square’s full beauty.
Walking towards the city however, is another square; the Praca D Pedro IV. It is Praca Comercio’s humble little brother. My preferred one out of the two. It’s location within the city made it to be a preferred strolling destination for the locals. The tourists fill out Praca Comercio, while the locals hang around Praca Pedro.
Portugal’s cuisine is very seafood heavy due to their geographical position within the Iberian Peninsula. We sampled the fish and we weren’t disappointed. We tend to avoid the expensive ‘touristy’ restaurants and purposely look for family run eateries which usually means great, inexpensive food.
The locals recommended riding the Tram 28, as it takes you through the views of Lisbon whilst on the rustic old trams. We attempted to get on one, but it was almost impossible as it was always full. We took a different tram route, and went towards Castelo de Sao Jorge. We didn’t go into the castle as we needed to save some Euros for the rest of the trip so we stayed outside the perimeters. As the castle was on top of a hill, it offered views of the city from above.
A short walk east is the Panteao Nacional. We went inside the baroque church for a very reasonable price that has been converted into a mausoleum for the tombs of Portugal’s notable people. With superb architecture and an insight of Portugal’s people, it is definitely worth a visit.
In the evening and our final square of the day is Praca Luis de Camoes. I have been told that it is a popular meeting spots for the popular night life of Bairro Alto. It is a quaint, yet bustling square with people sitting on steps with a bottle of green wine and chatting the night away.
Our final day in Lisbon was a slow one. It was a mix of waiting for our flight to come and taking the rest of Lisbon in, without committing ourselves with time. We wandered around the local area where we were staying and took some pictures. We had several tram lifts in the area, a tram that goes straight, up and down the levels of Lisbon. A leg saver for those who do not like walking inclines!
After all the walking, our time in Lisbon came. We didn’t have enough time to see everything it had to offer. We definitely feel that could have seen a lot more however with the time we had, we were happy with what we saw. Lisbon is a great city to relax and eat good food. A capital city that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The laid back charm rises over its royalty; with great people and cultures, traditions and backdrop, this place is one for the soon to return list.
Off to Madrid we go…….