Random Trip to Lisbon: 2 ½ days to be the ultimate tourist in Lisbon. PART I

Recently, I had the chance to travel to Lisbon for 3 days. It was a very spur of the moment decision, and due to lack of acceptable advanced warning, I had no time to plan anything, or to obsessively research everything that was happening in Lisbon during that Wednesday to Friday time period (with corresponding opening and closing times, admission prices, and best routes to and from), so I just hugged my recently purchased Lisbon guide and got on the plane.

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We left the plane with a list of the most famous Lisbon attractions organized in order of priority and a naïve hope that we would have time to catch them all. And as it turned out, we did. Lisbon ended up being a city very accommodating of tourists (safe for taxi drivers, but more on that later).

 I fell instantly in love with the building right in front of our apartment!

I fell instantly in love with the building right in front of our apartment!

 On our way to the Catedral Sé, I would stop at every tiled building to photograph the patterns.

On our way to the Catedral Sé, I would stop at every tiled building to photograph the patterns.

The rented apartment was right in the Alfama district, just a few streets behind the Catedral Sé, which was to be our first stop of the day. But first we walked to Pois, Café, a small cafe located behind the cathedral serving breakfast sandwiches and cakes. I had a caprese toast and a Hollerlimo (elderberry flower lemonade).

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 Our breakfast at the cafe behind the Cathedral

Our breakfast at the cafe behind the Cathedral

 Elderberry flower lemonade 

Elderberry flower lemonade 

We then visited Catedral Sé, along with the archeological excavations site in the back of the Cathedral.

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Next, we walked down to the Praça do Comercio, a walk that was made relatively longer by me stopping at every building to photograph the different tiles. Seriously, Lisbon is a dream for color and pattern lovers. From the Praça, we grabbed a taxi to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo. The national tile museum was my main incentive to visit Lisbon (that was before I actually visited Lisbon. The museum was great, but the whole city is covered in color and amazing tiles, so Lisbon is now my main incentive to visit Lisbon), and it did not disappoint.

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 Some of the tiles adorning the buildings of Lisbon

Some of the tiles adorning the buildings of Lisbon

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We had lunch at the museum, where we tried our first true Portuguese dish: the Bacalhau Gomes de Sá (cod fish with egg and potatoes). After lunch, we caught another taxi to the Castelo de Sao George. We usually walk much more when we travel, but since we had so little time in Lisbon, and the taxis inside the city were really cheap we ended up catching a few taxis to save time and fit more places into our days.

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The castle was a bit of a disappointment. We arrived near closing time, so we didn’t have time to explore everything, but once you get past the stone walls of the castle, that didn’t seem to be much to see. We sat down in the gardens a bit to look at the panoramic views of Lisbon, and then we left the castle to, you guessed it, catch another cab back to our apartment.

We chilled in the apartment a bit, complaining about the landlord who entered the apartment in our absence (how dare she?) to leave a bottle of Portuguese wine as a welcome (isn’t she the nicest?), did some personality tests, as you do when work is a couple countries away and you are restless (I’m a Daenerys Targaryen (surprisingly), would be sorted in Gryffindor (reluctantly), and if I were a Spice Girl, I’d be Geri (didn’t need a test for that one). Than we walked to Praca do Comercio again, this time to check out Rua Augusta, Lisbon’s longest pedestrianized street full of shops and restaurants, and look for dinner.

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We ended up eating a couple of pasteis de bacalhau (codfish cakes) filled with serra da estrela cheese, while we walked around the street. And they were as delicious as they were cheesy.

 Codfish cakes filled with serra da estrela cheese

Codfish cakes filled with serra da estrela cheese

We were staying in a pretty touristic neighborhood in Lisbon, but I was still surprised by the huge amount of souvenir shops all around. There were a lot of them. Everywhere. And not only the generic stuff that doesn’t really change from store to store. There were a lot of shops that sold work from local artists and illustrators themed around Lisbon, so you could find a lot of cool and unique illustrated items. That’s no surprise really, since Lisbon proved to be not only a perfect instagramable city, but a great illustratable placle as well. The colorful buildings stacked one on top of the other were asking to be made into a pattern.  And the artists of Lisbon delivered. The shops were also open until later at night, so you can leave your souvenir shopping for last, which was what we did.

 Souvenir shops are all around in Lisbon. Many of them selling unique the work of local illustrators and artisans.

Souvenir shops are all around in Lisbon. Many of them selling unique the work of local illustrators and artisans.

But as many souvenir shops that Lisbon has, it seriously lacks in convenience stores. At least the Alfama district does. We walked around a lot this first day, mainly looking for a shop where we could buy water and snacks (one of my favorite things to do in a new country is to try out their unique snacks), and we only found a small little hallway, squeezed between two souvenir shops no less, that sold your basic touristy needs. No cool, unique to Portugal snacks though…

 The elusive Lisbon convenience store

The elusive Lisbon convenience store

My travel souvenir bounty for the first day consists mainly of your mandatory Rooster of Barcelos, a nice white and blue tile with a Lisbon scene, this weird, hand painted, thing that I now use to put my pencils on (I don’t know what the original use was supposed to be), and a couple of tile postcards.

 Day 1 bounty

Day 1 bounty

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 Some more tiles from day 1 in Lisbon

Some more tiles from day 1 in Lisbon

Since this express post turned out more like a novel, I will finish it here on the first day. The second day and a half will come soon!

 When I saw this building, nearPraça do Comercio, I got the instant itch to illustrate it

When I saw this building, nearPraça do Comercio, I got the instant itch to illustrate it

 Misusing stuff from far away lands in the studio

Misusing stuff from far away lands in the studio