You may start daydreaming of your summer holiday now. Put on some fado in the background – Cesaria Evora might I suggest – and join me on a long overdue stroll around Lisboa.
We get off the underground mid-morning to arrive to a bustling little square; multilingual chatter and the scent of sweet pastry fills the air and I have one thing to check off the bucket list before anything else: we half-jog downhill towards the big blue. Hello salty, sunny love ❤
For me, any great day starts with great coffee, though. So I let my family go off on their own adventures and head to Fábrica Coffee Roasters in Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, not too far from central Baixa. Settling in for a bit of Southern style people watching, I order an Ethiopian espresso and a Kenyan Aeropress (and buy a cotton bag; it’s become a tradition) and feel rather Portuguese already. Really, it’s quite incredible how you’re thrown into this seemingly slowed down world with just a quick plane ride and the right holiday mindset. With so many alleys left to explore, the stroll continues up a steep hill (one of many) and I dedicate myself to capturing the variety of ceramic tiles decorating the city’s house walls, an infinite task.
After a dreamy hour or so – you lose all sense of time – we meet up to have lunch at this quirky place called A Mercearia: a delicious compromise for omnivores and vegetarians alike. Just a few doors down, there’s also a futuristic vegan restaurant, which I regret not trying.
Doro, my sister, and I take a tram to find the next coffee shop: Copenhagen Coffee Lab. Having enjoyed an obligatory cinnamon bun and a refreshing Ethiopian pour-over in a fairly tourist-free neighbourhood, we set off for more tile-watching and pretending to be locals.
The afternoon is kind of a blur of aimless sauntering through quiet, warm streets – Rua de São Bento and the lovely little side alleys around it are a favourite.
A tram ride on the popular yellow N°28 perfectly rounds off the day. Cliché as it may be, sitting by the open window, having the breeze softly tousle your hair while the tram climbs up and down through winding rows of houses bathed in mellow afternoon light is truly a wonderful way to experience Lisbon.
A few days later, we come back to the city for one last evening before leaving Portugal. We sit by the water and watch the soft colours of the setting sun over the bridge, which looks oddly similar to the Golden Gate. The warm summer night makes saying goodbye so very hard. Lisbon, you stole my heart.
Have you ever been to Lisbon? Do you have any favourite cafés or streets? Tell me in the comments!