Cherry Flavored History: Lisbon, Portugal

Hello

Portugal has quickly become one of my favorite countries to visit.  It’s artistic, ancient, cheap and delicious; what more could you want?  I was impressed with Portugal when I visited Evora last year so I expected Lisbon to be even better. My goals were to eat lots of pastries!

Sleep

I stayed at Lisbon Chillout Hostel.  It was an amazing little hostel.  It’s a 15 minute walk from city center and with all the facilities you could want: The rooms were comfortable and well-decorate; the lounge was cozy; the kitchen was huge with plenty of utensils; there’s plenty of areas to eat; there’s are terraces on every floor.  This hostel is definitely in my top three favorites.

Getting Around

Lisbon, for the most part, is small enough to walk everywhere but there is a clean metro you can take. I download Lisbon Metro and Lisbon Map.  Lisbon Map is an offline map only, it has no information about sights.

Yum

Gingha is a traditional sour cherry liquor. They sell shots everywhere and sometimes even in little chocolate cups.

Custard Pastry is almost like flan with a burnt crème on the top.  They sell them everywhere. Personally, I tried to eat small cheap meals and cook at the hostel then spend my food budget on different pastries in Portugal.  It’s what they are famous for so feel free to indulge.  You can always walk off the calories!

Vegetable soup is served everywhere and is really cheap but filling.  It’s very traditional and may not be the fanciest dish but still delicious.

There’s a lot of small bakeries so take a moment to stop every once in a while to try different pastries.

First Day

The staff outlined a little itinerary for my friend, Tiffany, and I.  We just walked around and enjoyed the sights casually.  Most notably, I loved the street art and the markets. Since it was December, there were lots of little Christmas markets as well as a regular flee market.  We walked during the day and around 3PM, we did a walking tour with Pancho Walking Tours.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and helpful.  She was a fascinating person in her own right.  She had traveled the world and she wanted to retire in Portugal to just talk about history all day.

  • Our first stop was this palace turned restaurant.  She took us to this private room with phenomenal tile work.  She explained this was one of the main industries for Portugal from the Middle Ages until now.
  • Then we went to two monuments in the main town square.  They are dedicated to the Jewish genocide.  While Jews had been in Portugal since 482 B.C., there was a migration of Jews from Spain because of the Inquisition.  Then eventually, Portugal asked Jews to convert to Catholicism.  Then there was a plague in 1505, many people blamed the Jews creating a lot of tension. And around April some Neo-Christians were caught with Passover paraphernalia so tension increased even more.  Until finally, April 19th 1506, a Jew said something about the plague and a woman angrily murdered the Jew (not sure of the gender) on the street.  This incited everyone else into a riot.  They pulled as many Jews as they could from their homes, lined them up in the square and proceeded into a gruesome massacre using several different means of execution. April 8, 2008 the city of Lisbon put up a monument then Israel put up another to remember the victims. This was piece of Jewish history I’d never heard before.
  • We also went to a very nice park with dark piece of history.  In the 90’s the park was going to be redone because it was very old.  They ended up unearthing a few bodies.  It seemed like many victims were prostitutes and the killing had spanned over many years.  The killer was a man living down the street from the park and his neighbors described him as a nice man.
  • She showed us a lot of great viewpoints and gave us so much advice about other places to go.  She even took us to a little bar to get a shot of traditional gingha. Then we ended the tour at a restaurant and had a lovely meal with a view.

Second Day

We wanted to go to Belem.  It’s a historic part of town with two UNESCO sights: Jernimos Monastery and Tower of Belem.  There’s also a popular Coach Museum, people recommended. Unfortunately, we came on the weekend there was a marathon.  The bus system was a mess and we had to split a cab with two Italian women to get there.  Then we couldn’t even get into the monastery because the line was incredibly long.  However, we did see the monuments, went into the anthropology museum and the coach museum.

It was a Sunday so the museums were free. The anthropology museum is in a part of the monastery so we got to see the architecture a little.  It’s small but they have a lot of interesting things.

The Coach Museum was something a lot of people suggested. The tour guide explained that the best coaches were in Austria but because of World War Two many of them were destroyed making Lisbon’s Coach Museum home to the best collection in the world.  Also the building was phenomenal. And one part of the coach museum had contemporary art.  I was very impressed with the small collection they had.  It was diverse and had very striking imagery.

Then we did a long, long walk back from Belem to city center.  There weren’t that many buses or trams running and we didn’t want to pay for another cab especially by ourselves.

Third Day

Both of us had late flights, so we casually walked around the city in parts we hadn’t seen yet.  Then finally I waited at my hostel watching Netflix with some other guests until I could take the last metro to the airport. Then I slept at the airport until my 5 AM flight.

In the End

Lisbon is great because you just walk around casually, stop for a pastry, see some street art, go to a view point, and see some old architecture; it’s all gorgeous. Portugal is also very cheap to buy food and go to things so it makes it that much better. Lisbon is definitely one of my favorite cities to visit.  I would put it on the top of anyone’s euro trip list, especially if you are planning to visit Spain as well.

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