Arriving in Lisbon was such a treat. I was dropped off on a hilly, cobbled street located in the ever popular and laid back neighborhood of Bairro Alto. The neighborhood streets were filled with young spirited party goers, bar hopping, and fun loving. My first night I discovered my flat sat right above a tiny little restaurant that played the ever popular Fado music. I could hear it clearly through the streets and found the music to be so captivating and intriguing. Leaving my window open I sat in my room listening to the beautiful sad voices of these Portuguese men and women. I felt this to be the warmest welcome to my stay in Portugal.
The next day taking my own guided tour through the streets of Lisbon was such a joy for my heart and my stomach. City streets were lined with pastry shops enticing you to come in with their beautifully designed cakes, puff pastries, cookies and of course the ever popular pastel de nata. I wanted to stop at every corner.
Lisbon is a fantastic place to window shop, especially this time of year with the holiday season in full force. Not only did window shopping become an unexpected pass-time but admiring the pastel covered buildings and mosaic tiles up and down the streets provided my soul with such joy.
Starting out in Europe’s largest square I started my tour of Lisbon at the Praca do Comercio and continued on the Rue Augusta street passing several historic sites and discovering too many cod shops to count. I took some time to sit and ponder in Rossio Square that contained elaborate fountains and beautiful mosaic patterns along the length of the square. Also taking the time to visit the “thieves market” was well worth the detour, admiring local artisans and merchants. My walk around Lisbon wouldn’t have been complete without visiting historic churches such as the Church of Sao Domingos and Sao Roque Church, which were breathtaking, to say the least.
As I ended my evening I chose to check out a local restaurant my new Australian friends had recommended to me from their time in Portugal. Principe do Calhariz was this little Portuguese BBQ joint where people were packed in like sardines to enjoy their fresh seafood and sangria. I was seated next to this older couple from Holland whom I got talking to and quite enjoyed the conversation while I sipped on some of the best sangria I had ever had. Grilled sea bass was my dinner choice for which I congratulated myself.
Today was Thanksgiving back home and I did find myself a bit sad to be missing out on the festivities and family time, loneliness became a bit more obvious. But I could not have felt more at home than I did in Lisbon, a city that welcomed me with open arms and warm pastries.