#A25DayJourney: Lisbon

Portugal wasn’t part of the original plan. Mom had been to Lisbon and Porto over 50 years ago, and wasn’t sure that it was worth the detour. I had to keep sending her ridiculously beautiful Pinterest pictures and Amalia Rodrigues songs to convince her otherwise. How could she not remember how amazing this place was? And it still is.

We made it our first stop. And of course, had to choose a cozy Airbnb in the heart of Alfama, the birthplace of fado music. A gorgeous old apartment with a breathtaking view of Lisbon’s port. After a long trip from Chicago, stopping in Dublin and Madrid, we felt like home.

The very rustic Taberna dos Clérigos was conveniently located a few steps from the apartment. Delicious, unpretentious traditional fair. Think baked cod with potatoes and veggies, lots of local cheese, pasteis de bacalhau and Portuguese beer. It was a pretty perfect start.

We made it a point to visit as many neighborhoods in Lisbon as possible: Belém, Baixa, Barrio Alto, Chiado and of course, Alfama. Each has its very unique charm. We rode the famous “Tuk-Tuks” up and down some of Lisbon’s 7 hills, and explore the different local markets. (They have so many!) We even took a train to Sintra, and it was so worth it. We tried to avoid the obvious places; we walked a lot.

In the process, we learned that if you try your hardest to enjoy Lisbon as a local, Lisbon will stay with you, almost in a cathartic way.

No better example that the one night Nabol and I got pulled into a tourist-trap kind of restaurant —English menu, huge seafood plates, lots of Portuguese decorations, expensive. Before we could order, we looked at each other and just ran! We decided to get lost in Alfama instead and look for the randomest establishment we could find. That would be Ginja D’Alfama.

What looked like a very small street corner bar, actually had the most amazing food and homemade ginja liquor. It had just a couple of tables and the typical stubborn waiter that serves you whatever he thinks you should eat and not the other way around. (The best kind!)

Feeling lucky as hell, we put aside our long list of best restaurants and bars according to Anthony Bourdain and such, and just learned to be absorbed by the whole experience.

We made friends there. We listened to fado… for free! We had rounds of complimentary booze thanks to our crazy waiter. We had the most amazing caldo verde and tasty-as-heck bifana sandwiches. We miss Lisbon so much.

Glad this was a stop. Mami agrees. Here's some footage!

Lisbon Markets

Get a taste of Belém

Daytip to Sintra, Portugal

For more videos, visit our YouTube page and the hashtag #A25DayJourney.

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