LISBON: Portugal’s Hilly, Coastal Capital City

Lisbon is an enchanting city with pastel-coloured buildings and artistic use of tiles. Each group of “azulejos” (from the Arab word azzelij meaning small polished stone), as they are called in Portuguese, tell a story or portray a tradition and can be seen almost everywhere in Alfama.

What I loved most was the ease of getting around with metro, buses and trams and of course, the cable cars, Lisbon is easily explored even on foot. I stayed at a cool hostel called Urban Garden Hostel &  went for a free walking tour (Sandemans) and the 3 hour tour covered a lot of touristic spots as well as hidden gems of the city.

The tour covered the following locations/stories:

  • Bairro Alto
  • The Great Earthquake of 1755
  • Chiado
  • Baiza Pombalina
  • Carnation Revolution
  • Rossio Square
  • Caromo Convent
  • The Age of Discovery
  • Salazer dictatorship
  • Santa Justa Elevator
  • The Jewish Memorial

Must try:

Pasteis de Nata : These delicious custard tarts are good enough reason to keep coming back to Lisbon

For me the highlight was Alfama with its steep, narrow, cobblestoned streets, it gives a glimpse of the more traditional side of Lisbon. It has a distinct village atmosphere with narrow lanes of residential houses and grocery stores. As far back as the 5th century, the Alfama was inhabited by the Visigoths, and remnants of a Visigothic town wall remain. But it was the Moors who gave the district its shape and atmosphere.

The tour guide told us a lot about Fado culture. On 27 November 2011, fado was inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

With the walking tour group, I tried this drink called “Ginjinha” and learnt a gorgeous word “Saudade”. I wish this term existed in English. The word is used to explain the feeling of missing something or someone. It is used to tell about something that you used to have (and liked) but don’t have anymore.




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