11 Notes About Lisbon

When I was compiling this list, I noticed that I hadn’t written about tiles, the color blue or elevators, but I guess you can read all about those in roughly the first dozen or so results for “Lisbon” on Pinterest. What I have for you here is a taste of me being starstruck (hello, food!) and shell-shocked (really, how many times can people offer you cocaine in six days?!). So, if you like peacocks and think that geese can go fuck themselves, then this is for you.

  1. Never have I been to a place that so consistently smelled like good cooking. I don’t mean the heavy stench of big restaurants, I’m talking about barbecue at the lake and family reunions and grandmothers baking in the early morning.

  2. It’s steep. It has many stairs. I lived in Lausanne, which already is notorious for its panic-inducing stairs. I’ve visited Lyon and wanted to cry when once again I couldn’t see the end of another set of ever winding steps. But Lisbon..there’s just something about it. How I both felt like participating in a booty-workout bootcamp and how it just structured the place perfectly.

  3. I wrote about this in an Instagram post already but, for heaven’s sake, those drug dealers don’t fear God. Or the police. Or angry petite tourists – though that one wasn’t so unexpected. I’m glad the country is fairing well with its liberal drug policies but whew, can’t say I haven’t checked myself out in some shop windows, wondering what about me made those dudes think I need cocaine THAT badly.

  4. It’s worth it to venture out of the old city. I know, you’ve read fifteen blog posts about where to most instagramable spots are in Alfama in Bairro Alto but honestly: fuck that. Take the Avenida da Liberdad all the way up. Get lost in Ajuda. Take refuge in one of many parks. There’s more to see than blue tilled buildings and stuff made from cork. Take longer walks between attractions or buy a daily ticket and just sit on a bus until the driver kicks you out. Trust me on this: this is how adventures start.

  5. Public Service Announcement: If you don’t have money left on your reusable transport card and have to buy a ticket on the tram or bus, that ticket will ONLY be valid on THAT tram/bus. Yes, even if you only go two stops and then change onto another tram/bus, you’ll have to buy a new ticket. I didn’t make the rules and I hate them, but I guess it’s nice to at least know about it. Oh and another thing about public transport: Google Maps will be a better friend to you than whatever hieroglyphs they try to present you with at the stations. Don’t waste your time trying to get a BA in Portuguese Bus Schedules and just let Google do its magic.

  6. Bring flat shoes, not only because of all the hill walking, but also because the pretty, cobbled streets are more slippery than sentences starting with “I’m not racist but…”. Seriously, I wore brand new sneakers and just barely managed not to break my ass. (Also FYI, whoever starts a sentence like that is probably racist as fuck.)

  7. There’s several places where you can see peacocks lurking around and it’S SO EXCITING. When we first arrived I froze in terror because I saw a gigantic bird bum hovering over my head on the fence to Jardim da Estrela. Lo and behold it was a male peacock minding its own business and not, like I had feared, a Canada goose 10 seconds away from beating the shit out of me. We also saw some up at Castelo de Sao Jorge, though only through the gates because we were too tight fisted to pay the entrance fee. But fear not, you can find the birdies in many public parks and gardens, you just have to be there when they aren’t currently taking their beauty sleep.

  8. The Tower of Belem is an absolute marvel but I will advise you not to drive out there only for the tower because you will literally only snap a few photos and then bugger off. The park around it is not well kept / littered by jackass tourists, there’s only some expensive stands and one restaurant and lots of influencers holding court. Make sure to visit the Museu Coleção Berardo (which currently has a fab exposition about the 1968 protests world wide) or the Jerónimos Monastery or SOMETHING. Please trust me on this, because one pretty tower will not make up for the traumatizing time you will spend on the bus to get there.

  9. Public transport again. Are you sensing a pattern? Am I a snob? Did Switzerland corrupt me? Of course it did. Shame on you, Helvetia! And yet: Those trams look hella cute, but they are also a death trap. Those turns? Nah. Those sudden stops? I’m sweating in front of my laptop just from thinking about it. All jokes aside: if you have anxiety, any social phobias, a delicate back or issues with balance, I’d advise against riding them. What you can do, however, is get off or on at the Metro station Parque, which is entirely covered in mosaics. The general theme seems to be a mash up of all things ocean, philosophy and geography. There’s quotes in different languages, the smallest of ornaments like sea shells and handwritten notes. It’s delightful.

  10. As I mentioned in another Instagram post: Estufa Fria, a botanical garden near Parque, is an absolute must see. It has benches. It has sexy cacti. And it’s big. Now, I know some people mistrust me when I call things big, because I’m 1.6m and y’all are mean, but by big I mean you could get lost in there with little to no dedication. Certainly less than what you’d need to open your mail. Or find matching socks. My point is: It’s utterly beautiful. The one down side: There’s a pond outside with geese but the little shits are fenced in and the thick rows of monstera block out their godforsaken honking. Google images also tells me that there should be – wait for it – peacocks. Unfortunately I haven’t seen the divas myself.

  11. The interior design of the restaurant is absolutely NO indicator for the quality of the food. Of course, this is true in many places, but I dare say it is a bit more true in Lisbon. You can have the best vegan buffet at Jardim dos Cerejas, but you will sit under neon lights and their tablecloths are a particularly ugly shade of purple that I have forgotten existed. Truly, the part of me, that gets off on photographing my food in overpriced scandi-style venues, had the strong urge to put in a reverse and walk out of it backwards. Thankfully I didn’t, because nowhere could I stuff my face quite as well as here. Just focus on the food. (And the prices are MUCH more appetizing, too, which is a whole different type of sex appeal.)

I hope my two or rather eleven cents gave you a little taste of how I experienced Lisbon. With the good and the bad and the meh. If you wonder, what all of this means for my overall evaluation of this stay, especially since I did mention a few negative aspects, I can only tell you this: No place I ever visited was perfect and if you tend to make that type of experience I’d really love to hear about it. In my case, I genuinely do not expect for it to be like that. Everywhere is flawed and everywhere is beautiful. I really liked Lisbon. I was never bored, my tummy was always pleasantly filled and I had fun observing the city and its people. The End.

 

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