Recently, since we had a big Bank holiday in my country, I decided to spent some vacation days abroad, in Portugal. Lisbon is such an unexpected city! And I must confess, this was my first visit. Old and modern, so full of light, colors and life, Lisbon has a magic of its own. To be ready for a walk around, I took out of my suitcase one of my best silken dresses, with a colorful print, a pair of black leggins, my beloved black flats (the city is built on seven hills, and not the best one to wear high heels) and a silken scarf, because the wind is always blowing in Portugal.
Do you need a few tips to discover the city?
Well, don’t miss the magical atmosphere of the Belem district, among the famous Belem Tower, along the estuary of the Tago river, and the Monasterio dos Jeronimos, which is considered the jewel of the distinctively Portuguese Manueline style, and which has been recognised as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO. There’s so much silence and peace within its cloister: you can rest there for a while, staring at the many strange figures engraved in the stone, reminding of both Venetian and Arab decorations.
I was really excited by this monument, so full of story and ancient reminiscences. I don’t know to you, but to me stones are something charming, especially when they tell a story. A story of human work, intelligence, practice, endeavor, craftsmanship, tradition, devotion, past times. We took several pictures of it. Have a look at the geometry of the vaults. Isn’t it fascinating?
Inside the Monastery there’s a gothic church and a museum, both of which are open to the visit of tourists. Furthermore, you don’t need to be religious to appreciate such a place, it’s beauty and silence will talk to you all the same!
This is instead the Belem Tower, one of the most famous monuments of Lisbon and not so far from the Monastery. From the city center, you can easily go there by public transport, in our case we took the train, and in a few stops we got there. To buy the ticket was not so easy, though, there were big queues in fron of the automatic machines, but in the end they were printing no more tickets, so we had to restart the queue in front of the usual ticket office.
From the train station of Belem, you’ll have to walk a little, but it’s a nice ride, because in this area only a few cars are allowed and the district is full of bars and clubs where you can relax and enjoy an ice-cream or a drink.
This is the monument dedicated to the explorers of all the ages, because being the most western country of Europe, Portugal has always been linked to sailing and to exploring and its sailors are in fact among the most famous of all times. The monument has a sort of roof, where you can enjoy the sight of the city, we didn’t go up, though, but I’ve seen many people walking upstairs.
Some more tips? Don’t forget to take one of the famous trams in Lisbon, because they’re very typical and they’re one of the best way to enjoy a funny sightseeing, up and down to its narrow streets. Most of them are just a touristic attraction, this is why on board, you’ll find people from every country of the world, apart from Portugal. They’re quite slow, so take your time, relax and enjoy the trip, better if seated, because they’re very small and not that comfortable downhill.
And on the evening? Well you can’t visit Lisbon, without listening a live performance of Fado. Fado is, par excellence, the song of Lisbon, accompanied by two different kinds of guitar, usually sung by a woman, because it’s a yarning for those who have gone away by sea and who probably will not get back. It tells the story of the sailors and of their wives and lovers at home, waiting for them. On the touristic website of Lisbon you’ll find an entire section dedicated to Fado, but if you need a special address, don’t miss the Senhor Vinho
For the nightlife, have also a visit of the Bairro Alto, one of the most typical and oldest districts of the city, where the Portuguese go to have dinner or to drink a glass of wine, hopping from a bar to an other. You’ll enjoy the very typical atmosphere of Lisbon and like a Portuguese friend told us, you’ll eat like at your mom’s house.