Lisbon is a very old and beautiful city. It is the second oldest city in Europe, beat only by Athens. Based on history and artifacts the city is estimated to be 2700 years old. Lisbon was built by the Moors and was an important defensive port, first against the Vikings, and later the Christian Crusaders.
For having so much history, Lisbon is very young at heart and has a huge night life scene. The party doesn’t really get started until 2-3:00am when people come spilling out of the bars and clubs to start partying on the streets. The combination of very liberal drug laws and living under an oppressive government for so long probably has something to do with the outlook this city has towards having fun. This outlook attracts young people from all over Europe. The night life crosses a wide range of interests. From Portugal’s own type of folk music called fado, which is heard throughout the city, to exclusive clubs for A-listers
Although we didn’t pull any all nighters, we found Lisbon to be exciting and energetic (just not first thing in the morning). What we did most in the city was walked and ate. We stayed at the Lx Boutique Hotel. Each floor is decorated to celebrate some aspect of Portuguese life. It’s location is unbeatable, it’s where you want to be in Lisbon. Just across the street is the metro station and next to that is a seafood restaurant.
I love seafood. Being from Colorado it is rare and expensive so I really enjoy it when we are close to the ocean. We walked to the restaurant and started to look at the menu posted near the door. A gentleman came out of the restaurant and invited us to “come meet my fish”. Now, in spite of all of the travel advice you might hear from guides and other resources about how to blend in in a foreign country, it’s really not possible. Unless you are a master spy you are not going to blend. People approach us all the time speaking english or handing us menus translated into english.
So we went in to meet the fish. The gentleman walked us into the kitchen and showed us multiple tanks with live fish and shellfish. He made recommendations, pointing out which fish he was talking about and we ordered from there. Talk about some fresh seafood! We went outside to be seated and had a choice between a table overlooking the bay, or beanbags on the beach.
Lisbon is a sister city to San Francisco. The two cities have a lot in common. There is a bridge in Lisbon called Ponte de 25 Abril that was designed by the San Francisco architect that designed the Golden Gate Bridge. They look almost identical. Both cities are built on seven steep hills. Both are known for cable and street cars.
The Alfama district in Lisbon looks a lot more like old town areas of many European cities. Narrow cobblestone streets are very steep here and walking up to the top part of the neighborhood offers incredible views and a great workout. There are no cars in this neighborhood. It was built before automobiles were invented and most of the streets are just wide enough to walk through.
I love how the tall buildings with strings of laundry going from one window to the next give you an idea of how people live here. I can’t imagine that it looked much different a hundred or even two hundred years ago. Now I really understand that this city was large and civilized long before America was discovered. This city and country was where a lot of those first explorers came from. There is a large, impressive monument on the bank of the Tagus river called ,the monument to the discoveries. The main statue depicts Henry the Navigator, while the rest of it’s statues represent other important contributors to Portugal’s age of discoveries including Magellan.
Just a short distance from the monument is Belem Tower. Another impressive structure, built in 1514 to reinforce the defense of the Tagus. You can tour the inside and outside of this fortification.
We loved exploring this beautiful city. There is so much to see and do here and the people are so friendly. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up going back to Lisbon someday. It’s one of those places that quickly finds a place in your heart!