This week, I was lucky enough to visit a new city in a new country; Lisbon. The original plan for my first holiday of the year had been a trip to Amsterdam (finally) but owing to the nature of booking so late and during peak holiday season it was a little out of my price range so Amsterdam is just going to have to wait for me a little longer. However, all was not lost as myself and my friend, Yvie, landed on Lisbon as a place we both wanted to visit so at the end of last month we booked ourselves flights and an Airbnb for a little 5 day holiday.
How would I describe Lisbon in a word? Weird. Before even arriving all I could seem to get out of people who had been about what the city was like was “try the tarts” or “it’s very pretty/hot/hilly” and of course, “look out for pickpocketers/you will be offered drugs”. Well, I didn’t try the tarts but I did have the famous tart filling in a croissant on the first morning, it was very hot and pretty and no, I did not get offered drugs or pickpocketed. Why did I find Lisbon weird then? Well, it’s a capital city without the actual hustle and bustle that you expect. It’s relatively small but try walking around and the twists and turns of the hilly, built-up landscape is sure to make you feel as though you’ve fallen into a large maze. The buildings; they we spectacular, even the ones that look as though they were ravaged by a hurricane in the 1950s and been left alone ever since. It’s semi-apocolyptic and yet, picturesque, quaint and utterly captivating. The general mood of the entire city is one of complete complacency and calm. In the depths of the underground the lighting is akin to the sun setting late in the day, which makes you feel like you have stepped into a place of eternal duskiness. The summation of all these things and the overall alluring eerie atmosphere of the city is what made myself and Yvie fall under its soporific spell.
I don’t even know what I could begin to suggest for you to do if you decide to visit Lisbon, it’s the kind of place I think you jut have to throw yourself into and see what happens – if you are the kind of holiday goer who needs a constant list of sights to see and things to do then maybe Lisbon isn’t the best place for that but I’d urge you to give it a try. As for what we got up to, well, mostly we walked up and down a lot of hills, rode the famous 28 tram and drank a lot of white sangria plus some killer beers at Delirium Tremens (I would highly recommend the place). We took a little day time excursion up to the castle that peeks over the city from its throne but what caught our attention the most up there was the small fleet of noisy peacocks that had all the other tourists (as well as us) desperately trying to catch that perfect photo of their regal tails.
On our last day we found the commercial centre and tracked down the Eden building that we had spotted on a previous taxi ride that week. The Eden building is pale pink, abandoned and has a small forest growing in the centre of it. Only in Lisbon is that the kind of thing that people just wander by without attempting to snap a photo of it for instagram. In the evening we dressed up nice, braved the herd of catcallers who are inescapable in Lisbon and headed over to Lux Frágil; a club on the seafront that is part owned by John Malkovic. The club was very ‘aesthetic’ with it’s large disco balls, robotic polar bears hidden below the stairs and a large black orb that was smattered with an assortment of seemingly random images from a projector. Part of me felt as though I had stepped onto a set from Zoolander but I enjoyed the cocktails and the views from the balcony immensely.
By the time we were flying home I knew that there was a lot more of Lisbon and Portugal that I wanted to explore, it’s strangeness is magnetic and I feel as though few days getting lost in the streets of Lisbon would be enough to satisfy anyone’s need to escape and just… relax.