Thursday, April 27, 2023

Tips for Lisbon

We recently visited Lisbon or Lisboa the capital of Portugal, we came at the start of our trip to Portugal and Spain. We stayed the first couple of nights in Belem a neighborhood along the Tagus River near the 16th Century Tower of Belém. It was a lovely quiet area about 25 min to the center of the city by bus or Uber. It has lovely local bakeries and it was so nice in the mornings seeing all the locals from all walks of life enjoying their coffee and pastries.
It also has a wonderful botanical garden called the Tropical Botanical Garden, once called The Colonial Garden it was founded in 1912 by the Jerónimos Monastery. There is a little more about it here and apparently, it was neglected for many years, you can really see this in one of the Greenhouses that's all overgrown. It is home to ducks and peacocks and has some lovely tropical greens and peaceful places to sit. 

Address: Largo dos Jerónimos, 1400-209 Lisboa, Portugal

Another thing we did was take a guided walking tour from Airbnb with Xenia, we really enjoyed this tour through the Alfama neighborhood, one of Lisbons' oldest neighborhoods. In fact one of the few places that survived the devastating Earthquake of 1755. The guide was funny and genuine maybe not everyone's cup of tea but I learned a lot from her. About the people and their resilience in this city and country, it has changed over the centuries and has seen many hard times economically with a dictatorship under António de Oliveira Salazar. Many people went overseas to seek work.  

The country has seen a few economic crises and bailouts and austerity measures. The guide in fact shared that when houses were left empty as people moved overseas the government would sell them. Houses in the Alfama area are now very expensive. Families who have been there for generations are proud and live in old homes. I was surprised to learn that some do not have a washing machine or shower and the locals use community laundries and these are by hand! there is a picture below. The area has cool shops, street art, and a great vibe. 

Unforgettable Lisbon walking Tour with Xenia 

This street art was particularly cool as it used tiles as its medium which is traditional in Portugal. 

Beautiful and ancient house.

one of the many amazing views.

The laundry room

Here you can see the effects of the earthquake on the building and yet it still stands.

I would highly recommend a tour with Xenia. It was also fascinating to learn that many thousands of Americans have been moving to Portugal in the last couple of years due to a golden visa scheme many are digital nomads and invest in properties. While this is good for investment it has recently been stopped as it's hurting local people who struggle with lower salaries many only making 1000-2000 Euros a month and struggling to afford rent. Most folks can't afford to live in the Center but stay in High rise apartments on the outside of the city center. These are complex issues and with high inflation presently there have been recent protests by transport workers, teachers and others for better conditions and pay. 

Of course while in Portugal you must have a Pastel de nata a custard tart you can find these all over the city, one of our favorites was  Santo António R. do Milagre de Santo António 10, 1100-351 Lisboa, Portugal they are heavenly when warm. 

Another super cool area to visit is LX Factory a hip old factory area with shops, cafes and restaurants. 
We ate in The Therapist tasty and healthy options. We also had a dessert and coffee. 

Here is the address Address: R. Rodrigues de Faria 103, 1300-501 Lisboa, Portugal

After the first couple of days in Lisbon, we took a car, visited the Algarve for a night, and then drove to Sevilla in Spain and  Jerez de la Frontera to see an Andalusian horse show (this was Magic!) then back for a couple of nights in Monsaraz an ancient little hillside village in Portugal this place was really special. 

When we returned to Lisbon after being through rural areas and seeing the big picture Lisbon really grow on us. It's a city with a rich history and resilient friendly people, with a bright future. 

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