Lisbon: Glorified Memories
We met my parents in Lisbon in early August. However, when planning this trip far in advance, I failed to consider the implications of Western Europe in August.
It's oppressively hot, and everyone is on vacation. More specifically, everyone flees to Lisbon.
Fortunately, we were treated to a miraculous cool spell. So much so, it started to feel like autumn.
Will and I visited Lisbon in 2013, and have been talking about going back ever since.
When plotting our year, it's a place we discussed renting an apartment for a month.
As our plans evolved, that became less feasible. But we knew for sure we'd be back.
Lisbon draws you in. The cobbled limestone streets, the weathered indigo-hued tiles.
The people, the culture, the food. It lives up to the immense hype, it's everything I want it to be.
Although Lisbon has become a more popular tourist destination in recent years, there are still so many hidden bars and cafes tucked away. It's not difficult to feel like you've found a hidden gem for your morning coffee, time and time again.
On our first night, my parents got in late, so we went to a restaurant across the street from our apartment.
It seemed unassuming. There was a smaller, older man running the entire restaurant. We ordered a carafe of the house red. My dad ordered a glass of sangria, which naturally ended up being an entire pitcher.
Not understanding the menu, we asked for the server's recommendations. Two hours later, we shared one of my favorite family meals in Lisbon. It was salted fish, three ways. I can't tell you what it was, but it was delicious.
Our first full day started with a trek up to Eduardo VII Park, north of the Avenida da Liberdade in the city center.
I have fond memories of the park, because when Will and I were in Lisbon years ago, he noted it would be such a romantic place to propose.
Mind you, he didn't do so for another three years.
This time, we collected picnic supplies along the way to enjoy at the top.
In addition to the parks and alleyways, Lisbon is renowned for having stellar views. The city has seven dramatic hillsides overlooking the Rio Tejo.
We explored the side streets in the Alfama district, the oldest neighborhood in the city.
The neighborhood comes alive at night with Fado music. It's a funky, lively neighborhood with a small, lovely plaza at the top.
We stopped for happy hour. And generally enjoyed getting slightly disoriented navigating the labrinth of streets.
Lisbon felt even more festive this time around, since Emily and I both not-so-coincidentally had friends in town.
We met up with friends at Cafe Janis for dinner one night.
And grabbed a drink at Sky Bar after, with a beautiful view of the city.
But perhaps the most memorable meals were at the restaurants where we didn't know the name. Tucked away on a street the corner with a low profile. Those were always the best.
We did frequent Time Out Market a couple of times, for lunch or for a drink. Lisbon’s Mercado da Ribeira has been a landmark since the 1890s, but is now known for being an upscale food court.
In an effort to explore new neighborhoods, we took a day trip to Belém.
It's about three miles west of Central Lisbon, and easily accessible via the train toward Cascais.
The district runs along the banks of the Tejo estuary, with monuments, museums and manicured parks.
The architecture differs from downtown Lisbon, with the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos being a prime example. The ornate monastery is a result of a growth in trade and wealth in Portugal.
However, we made the trek to explore the Torre de Belém, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and an iconic symbol for Lisbon.
The fort once stood in the center of the Tejo Estuary to guard the city from attacks by sea, with Moorish inspired watchtowers.
It was constructed in the early 16th century with elaborate carved stonework.
Interestingly, the fort was once in the center of the Tejo, but has changed overtime to the banks of the estuary. We arrived towards the end of the day, so it was a nice reprieve to explore the fort without the crowds.
Ultimately, there's seemingly endless reasons to fall in love with Lisbon.
We found that the city itself has changed tremendously in the past five years. With the vibrant culture and relative affordability, it's understandable why it's notoriety among travelers has skyrocketed.
As such, Lisbon is one most talked about summer destinations in Europe.
There's still plenty to explore, to feel your the first to discover an eatery or secret alley.
Lisbon is a place I hope to keep coming back to. This time, it was so wonderful to share the experience with my family. And made it ever more meaningful.