"Go to Lisbon, it's great," people said. So often, in fact, that one would starts to wonder how far the arm of Portuguese Tourism Office reaches. It had been on our list for a while: in hindsight, I can't believe we waited this long. Lisbon is amazing.
The first thing you notice is how pretty the centre is. Seriously, every house and street looks as if it was chosen for a painting. The second thing that sticks, is food. Plenty, really plenty of great, tasty food that will make you immediately abandon all of your new year's resolutions or diet plans. Forget it, Lisbon is there to enjoy.
We only stayed for a weekend, so we had to prioritise what to see and what not. As usual, we prioritised food.
For starters, Portugal is known for canned fish. Conserveira de Lisboa is a cute little traditional store that has been selling canned fish for about 90 years. You think a can is a can, but after seeing an amazing range of fish in different sauces, you will see (and taste) the difference. Plus, it makes a very nice present to bring home (if you travel with more than hand luggage).
One of the things you have to try is pastéis de Belém , a traditional pastry from the Belém neighbourhood, that is a unique take on vanilla-stuffed puff pastry, topped with a bit of crème brûlée. There's no better place to try it than the place that bears its name: Pastéis de Belém. Don't let the long queue discourage you from waiting to be seated inside: it's worth it.
For all foodies, with limited time and a desire to taste as much of Lisbon as possible, Time-out food market (co-located with the more traditional Ribeira Market) is the place to be. Thoroughly hipster, it features outlets of some of Lisbon's main restaurants and signature dishes, like the famous Francezinha, alias a mini heart attack in the shape of a giant meat & cheese filled sandwich, topped with some more cheese and meat, as well as a heavy sauce.
Tipped by the locals we booked a dinner at Chapitô, a restaurant with great food and a fabulous view of the city. Dinner there was the highlight of our trip, from the starter all the way to dessert, washed down with a bottle of great wine, while enjoying a night view over Lisbon. These are memories we will savour for a long time after the trip. If you have only one night in Lisbon, make sure you book your table at Chapitô. You won't regret it.
The streets of Lisbon never seem to rest. Even in the late evening, they are bursting with life and curious tourists, exploring its bars while nibbling on tapas and drinking the famous sweet (genuine) port wine. We tried it (and liked it!) and then stopped at Taberna Saudade for some more great Portuguese wine.
Two days in the city and scouting for foodie places didn't leave much time to dip into the city's rich culture. We enjoyed visiting the Jerónimos Monastery, a beautiful lace-like building with a very interesting and accessible history exhibition, but mostly, we've marked many galleries to visit the next time. And there will be a next time.