Last day in Lisbon 😢

Thursday 8th June.

Got up, made myself a coffee and read the news. It’s election day in the UK today. I’m a tiny bit sad to miss it. I voted by post already but it isn’t the same. Given the state of British politics recently we’ll probably have another vote within a year anyway so I’ll cope. (Ed: I joked about this yesterday, but looking entirely plausible today)

We are off to Madrid tomorrow so I went off by myself did a bit of shopping for stuff we need – an iPad cable, some flip flops, oh and some pants for Dan. I’m such a kind wife.

We set off to the Principe Real area at midday and had lunch outdoors at a restaurant called ZeroZero on Catarina’s recommendation.

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Shared a pizza and a salad then a mille feuille dessert which was phenomenal. Then we walked off lunch around the area, passing the botanical gardens and the Natural History Museum. We walked up Avenida da Liberdade (Liberty Road) to Marquês de Pombal square, which I guess is Lisbon’s closest equivalent to Trafalgar Square.

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It’s named after an 18th prime minister who oversaw the recovery after the 1755 earthquake (this seems to have been a defining event for Lisbon, I’d like to learn more about it).

We jumped on the metro down to Praca do Comercial and got a drink beside the square in a restaurant called the Beer Museum (it isn’t sadly). We had a quick look inside Lisbon Cathedral, which was built in its original form in 1147.

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Then we strolled home via Fabulas, a nice little bar/cafe I wanted to show Dan, as it’s where I spent some fun times with Jess, Lucy, Madaleine and my colleague Christina during Web Summit last year.

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We had a quick look around Lisbon cathedral then walked back to our flat to get ready for our last evening in Portugal. We were lucky enough to get to spend it with my friend Catarina and her boyfriend Rodrigo. I first met Catarina when we were studying political journalism together at City University in London. We became good pals and have remained so for the five years it has been since, despite only seeing each other about once a year whenever either happens to be in the other’s city.
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Rodrigo drove us all up the hill to the Miradouro da Graca and we went for wine and nibbles in the theatre bar there, which overlooks the most beautiful view of the sun setting over the city. We had a good conversation about our recent wedding, Portuguese and British history and politics, Brexit, work and so on. It was a pleasure to meet Rodrigo, who Catarina has been dating for nearly a year now. He is a freelance camera operator which sounds like a really interesting job as you get to cover sport, politics, news and so on. There was a big party with live music and food trucks going on in the square in the hill. We’d have stayed but we had to be home as we were flying early the next day. We held out to watch the UK election exit poll and a few results. A hung parliament, massive shock – and cue lots of ‘hung’ jokes from Dan. The first was Chi Onwurah MP in Newcastle, who I know a bit through work, especially when I used to write about government. She is a big techie. I was glad to see her win.

Managed to catch a few hours of sleep before we had to head to the airport for our flight to Madrid, despite all the excitement of the election. So sad to leave Lisbon, it’s a wonderful city. I think I could live here happily.

*AHEM* I have a few brief observations to make as I leave, if anyone cares…

– June is a fun time to be in Lisbon thanks to the festival for their patron saint St Anthony. He seems to always be depicted with sardines, which are a BIG deal here. I didn’t eat any because I don’t like them, sorry. I ate lots of seafood though.
– Most locals speak at least a bit of English. However they like it when you try a bit of Portuguese too. They find it really irritating that the French refuse to speak English. Lol.
– If you go to Cervejara Ramiros, be prepared to wait for quite some time. It is good though.
– There are little kiosks everywhere selling cheap drinks like coffee, ginja or beer and snacks. Usually these kiosks have a few tables where you can enjoy whatever you’ve just bought. We visited a few of these and they are great.
– The food and wine is fantastic. You basically can’t go wrong. The wine is pretty much all local, but it’s so good you won’t care. We hear a lot about Spanish food in the UK, but Portuguese cuisine is at least as good in my view.
– Piri Piri doesn’t seem to be as significant here as you might expect. Happy to hear thoughts on this.
– Beware tourist traps. Lisbon is a cheap city but you can spend a lot of money very quickly on sightseeing tours, Fado evenings, drinks and so on. Generally there’s a less expensive and better option available. Try and ask a local if you visit and have specific questions. People here are generally kind, friendly and proud of their city.
– If you want to go to the beach, get the Cascais line from Cais do Sodre station and basically get off anywhere along that line, though Carcavelos is the biggest stretch of sand, with the most amenities (thus most popular).
– It is VERY hard to pick but I think my favourite things were the Castelo de Sao Jorge, the wine bar nearby and Sintra. Ask me again and I’ll probably change my mind. It was all wonderful.
– Have the pastel de nata or pasteis as they are known. Especially from Mantegiara. Or Belem if you visit (you should).
– Don’t stay in Barrio Alto if you can’t deal with noise. You need ear plugs here. To be fair, travelling without ear plugs is a bad idea full stop. What sort of an idiot are you?!
– The mix of tourists we encountered was American, Canadian, Aussie, French, Spanish and German. However Brits are starting to go in larger numbers too. It’s quite a fashionable place to visit, and I’m sure coverage from Rick Stein and Richard Ayoade on UK TV has helped.

Anyway, now my thoughts turn to Madrid as we have just passed into Spanish airspace. We are excited to discover somewhere new, even if it is 37 degrees (fml, seriously).

Our friend Angela, who is Spanish and lives in London, lived in Madrid from the age of 20 to 27 and she has sent us an email packed with recommendations, tips and little fun facts about the city. So kind of her. It will make it much easier for us to explore too, so really useful. Catch you later once we are settled into our new home for the next four days.

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