Monuments and other tourist tick-off points are impressive, but our favourite thing to do is to take to the streets on foot. Apart from the odd slippery cobblestone, we inevitably stumble upon the unexpected and delightful.
A meeting place
The sign on the street says ‘gin lovers’. Yep that’s me. Besides, we’ve been walking for hours (and it’s hot) so this is the perfect place to stop.
Inside we know we’ve found somewhere special. This is Embaixada, a unique Portuguese shopping gallery created in a XIX century Arabian Palace.
An ornate staircase draws our eyes upwards to the sensational murals and figurines, and beyond.
Meet Gina, with tonic, rosemary & lemon…mmm
In the palace rooms, national brands and recreated vintage clothing mix with the work of local artists and artisans.
Even a non-shopper like me can get blissed-out here (and I have the credit card hit to prove it).
Eventually, we stop at Gin Lovers Principe Real in the centre of this jaw-dropping building for a delicious gin & tonic (or three) from their extensive list – and some amazing food.
Like so many Portuguese people we’ve met here, everyone is friendly and enthusiastic. No wonder they call it ‘the meeting place’…
When the street is your canvas, the possibilities are endless in Lisbon.
From commissioned to clandestine, and gaudy to subtle – street art is everywhere here.
I notice so many people don’t really ‘see’ it as they hurry past, but to me it says so much about the creative energy of a city…
Street art isn’t everyone’s thing, but it’s one of my passions. No doubt I’ll be banging on more about it some other 60 seconds. Meanwhile…
Portuguese people love their food and it shows (in a good way!).
There’s something to satisfy the foodies, the fuellers and everyone in between in the many small cafés and impressive restaurants and wine bars sprinkled liberally across the city.
Hugo concocting something fabulous at Cervejaria d0 Barrio
And the vino, port and spirits. Phew.
We soon redefine our perception of a ‘glass’ of wine. It ‘s more like a small carafe in a glass.
A ‘tasting’ can also be the entire glass filled to the brim. Per taste. Which makes pacing yourself pretty much impossible.
Then there’s the traditional sherry, Ginja. We’re told it’s taken as both an aperitif and an after-dinner drink.
I’m sure there are plenty of happy home chefs using Ginja too – and some of it might even make it into the cooking.
Perhaps it’s all that fabulous wine. Perhaps it’s just this place. The Portuguese may be struggling economically but they don’t let it affect their open and generous spirit.
So come to Lisbon, take to the streets and come alive here.
It’s impossible not to.