A few weeks ago it was my friend’s birthday and we decided to celebrate it in true style by taking a mini break to Lisbon. We both fell in love with pictures of the city last year and have been talking of visiting for ages.
Arriving in the city and not feeling the freshest ( we had a very early morning flight to make sure we had enough time as possible to explore on our first day), we dropped our bags at our accommodation- the Augusta Boutique House (more on that later). We were staying on the main shopping street of the city and we didn’t waste anytime before stepping out to see what was around us. Heading down towards the sea front a huge arch welcomed us to the view of the sea. Sounds kinda silly but looking around me I knew I was going to love the city.
We walked further into the city with our first mission in mind… try the famous Pastéis De Nata. What’s that you ask? It’s basically a Portuguese egg pastry with a custard filling. Sound only mildly exciting? I thought so to, but let me tell you they are OBSESSED with it over there. I’m not lying when I say every café, restaurant and coffee shop had them on display. They’re nothing extravagant and are usually only €1.90 per pastry but for such a simple product there’s a lot of hype around them. We went to a bakery that was recommended on Trip Advisor where all the sell are the De Nata’s. What made this place stand out was that you could see them making the pastries at the back of the shop. Are they worth the hype? They were grand to be honest, too many and you feel sick but it’s something you have to try, even just once.
Next thing on the agenda was coffee. For any mocha drinkers out there, be prepared, Lisbon doesn’t know what a mocha is. I tried in vain every time we went to get a coffee to explain my need for a hot chocolate drink with coffee in it. The only place I could find was the Copenhagen Coffee Lab. The place was really nice, if not the exact same as any other hipster coffee shop. The main thing was that I got my mocha, but for 4 euro it was a little more expensive to what I’m used to paying.
We hit a few viewpoints that day, one of them being Elvador de Santa Justa which was near to where we were staying. Instead of taking the elevator up to the top of the tower (the queue was way too long) we just walked it. The view was amazing at the top and I really appreciated how beautiful all the buildings are, sloped on top of the hillsides.
That night for dinner we went to a seafood restaurant that’s renowned in the city called Cervejaria Ramiro. This was definitely an experience! Our menu was an iPad which was handed to us without much explanation. After a few short minutes and a lot of looks of confusion between us (do we order on the iPad? Where are the prices?); a lovely Portuguese man who was having dinner with his girlfriend and who was sharing the table with us, leaned over enthusiastically asking us if we needed help. He then started telling us what we JUST HAD to have and pointed out a few of his favourites on the menu and explaining how big the portions were. We decided on mini prawns and to share a plate of shrimps alongside a basket of deviously hot bread and butter. When our food arrived the man showed us how to break off the shell and insisted we take a photo holding our prawns and showed us a picture on his phone of him doing the same (this guy loved his fish).
Afterwards we searched for a place to have some cocktails. Trip Advisor having not failed us yet, we put our faith in its hands. This is how we came across FoxTrot. Approaching the building we could hear a low hum of voices and laughter behind a closed door. Following the instruction of a sign telling us to ring the doorbell we did so, and it was soon answered by a slick looking man in a bow tie and suspenders ( wearing clothes i should add). The bar was decorated with old fashioned draping and floral couches. The extensive cocktail menu gave an endless choice though service was slow so I’d recommended ordering your drink straight away. Some of the drinks were crazy like the drink my friend ordered that looked like mushed avocado but tasted incredible.
The first day ended with tired feet and hazy heads but we collapsed in our beds happy and delighted with life. By the way the place we stayed in was fab, especially the shower which was like standing underneath a waterfall (not that I’ve ever stood underneath a cascading waterfall but you know).
After getting a morning coffee in Fabrica Roasters we decided last minute to get the tram to a little town close by called Belem. The town is known for a few things, such as its monuments, botanic garden and because they are said to sell the best Pasteis de Nata from the café Pasteis de Belem. You’re probably wondering how many different ways there is to make a custard pastry, but after buying five (no shame) we found there was a noticeable difference.
While we were in the area it started to rain (the first bit of bad weather we got the whole trip), so seeing all the sights was a little bit harder to do. But we managed, and got to see The Discoveries Monument, the Monastery and finally Belem tower.
That night, back in the city, we got ready to go for our final dinner. Before we left, a lovely man at reception asked would we be requiring breakfast the next morning, we explained that there was no need as we would be getting a very early flight. But because of language barrier he didn’t understand us completely but wrote a note instead, saying we would have takeaway breakfast in the morning. We weren’t entirely sure what that meant, but we were happy to leave him to it.
Walking around in search of tapas we had a few places in mind, though finally we settled for a restaurant known as Sophia de Loca. Outside reading the menu I was enchanted by the little place and the snug looking interior I could spot from the street. Having a good feeling about the place, I insisted to my friend we should eat here. Sophia turned out to be the best meal we had in our time in Lisbon. We chose a few dishes, such as roasted goats cheese, grilled chiroizo and codfish fritters; alongside that we ordered a jug of sangaria. The vibe of the restaurant was chilled and candles on every table gave the place a cosy vibe.
We ended the night back in Foxtrot for a few more of their amazing unusual cocktails.
The next morning as we were leaving our hotel room at a ungodly hour, we noticed a plastic bag full of croissants and little cartons of orange juice… it was our takeaway breakfast! The thoughtfulness of the simple gesture didn’t go amiss to us and my friend and I agreed that the Augusta Boutique was an unbelievable find as a place to stay.
Now back in Ireland and having returned to reality, I’ve had time to reflect on the trip, and I can safely say I loved our little getaway and Lisbon felt truly magical.
*some of these photos are provided by my friends amazing photography skills.