It’s said that distance weakens even the best of relationships but, having lived abroad for almost two years now and in two different countries, I’ve come to the conclusion that being deprived of something makes you value it more. That is why, even though I have had the pleasure and opportunity of seeing some of Europe’s most popular travel spots, I can’t help but fall in love with my hometown every time I go back.
I’m from Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal and the sunniest capital city in Europe, only 15 km away from the Atlantic Ocean, a 15 minute drive away from the beach.
Lisbon is in itself a witness and homage to the Portuguese Age of Discovery and all the rest we’ve accomplished. The Belém Tower, a World Heritage Site, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and Jerónimo’s Monastery, beautiful architectonic pieces that surely feature in most, if not all, of Lisbon’s tour guides are surely must sees. But if you wanted a tourist’s perspective you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?
Walk, walk A LOT, walk despite of how hot or how hilly the city might be (and oh boy they don’t call it the city of the seven hills for nothing). Walk up to St. George’s Castle, where you’ll find the most amazing panoramic view of the whole city. From there, make your way down through the old neighbourhoods that surround the castle, Alfama and Mouraria, two of the most typical sites and truly a window into the Portuguese heart and soul. You might even get lucky and hear a little bit of our national music, the fado, playing in the background.
Keep on walking until you’re close to the river Tagus and Lisbon’s downtown. Having been rebuilt after 1755’s earthquake and tsunami, this part of the city will present as carefully designed, with large open squares and wide avenues laid out in a grid plan. Once again, allow yourself to walk around and really soak up the city’s history and creativity, especially shown in the typical Portuguese sidewalk and our very colourful tiles.
“… sit in one of the terraces, have a Super Bock or Sagres, Portugal’s most popular national beers, and watch the sunset while listening to live music…”
Approach the locals, promise we won’t bite! Even though most of us do not have a perfect grasp of the English language, we’ll surely go above and beyond to make you feel at home and welcome. The Portuguese people are as warm as their weather!
Extremely cosmopolitan and youthful, Lisbon is a city that can truly cater for any taste – whatever it is you’re looking for, the city definitely has the power to deliver. Fancy doing some shopping? Head over to Chiado, get yourself some ice cream, and shop along.
If you are a foodie like me you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try some of the most amazing food the country has to offer, be it at Mercado da Ribeira, a market that offers traditional food in a very modern environment (run by Time Out magazine), or at more typical restaurants like Cervejaria Ramiro, the beer hall that specialises in seafood.
Let yourself end up by the river again, sit in one of the terraces, have a Super Bock or Sagres, Portugal’s most popular national beers, and watch the sunset while listening to live music.
Stay, even when the sun has long gone. Watch the city die and slowly come back to life as the nightlife springs all over. Get yourself up to Bairro Alto and grab another beer. Just a heads up, nights out usually start around midnight and don’t end until the sun’s out again so grab yourself some breakfast and get ready for a whole new day of experiencing Lisbon!
Rita Faria Figueiras
Images by Rita Faria Figueiras.
Home Run is the latest addition to Impact’s Travel Section, aiming to explore the diverse backgrounds of students at UoN. Presented by locals, get to know stunning cities and hidden gems to inspire you to travel a little further out – don’t forget to add your own beloved home to the series.
Interested in writing for Impact Travel? Join our contributors group here: Travel Contributors!