My love for Lisbon is no secret. It is my hometown, after all – but I had to move to other places (Spain, the UK) to really start appreciating it, which is a bit of a shame. Nonetheless, I try to go back as often as I can – which isn’t every month (sadly).
This time around, we stayed at The York House, a lovely boutique hotel, located in a different part of town, which totally altered our routine – not necessarily a bad thing! So Mr. O and I decided to go for the longest walk ever, which took us over 4 hours – and loved every minute of it.
From the hotel, located in Rua das Janelas Verdes, we walked towards the river and enjoyed a bit of winter sun. It was lovely to see this part of town come to life during the morning – people running, fishing (? yes, seriously) or just going for a walk. Not difficult to understand why.
Continuing east on the river, we reached Cais do Sodré, a busy roundabout which actually gives you lots of options: you can take the ferry to the other side of the river, you can take the train to Cascais (absolutely worth it), you can continue alongside the Tagus towards Praça do Comércio, or you can take a sharp left towards Rua do Alecrim, and one of my favourite neighbourhoods: Chiado and Bairro Alto.
I love Lisbon’s architecture and how the younger generations are reinventing the old. New specialist shops have popped up in the area and it is great to see unique retailers, which cater to every taste. An example is this flower shop (the Portuguese are not known for being very flower-friendly, which is actually a shame).
Continuing up the steep hill (one of Lisbon’s magic seven) – perfect for walking off the “robust” hotel breakfast at The York House), we reached Praça Luis de Camões, which works more or less as a hub.
This is where you make a choice: by night, you’d go towards Bairro Alto and its many restaurants and bars. If you do (which I highly recommend, has to be done), I would suggest leaving your heels at home. In this square, you can also find the Bairro Alto hotel, which has a fantastic rooftop bar and great Gin & Tonics. Perfect to watch the sunset. It was a tad early for us, so we turned right towards Chiado – it would be wrong not to indulge in a bit of shopping.
I love the variety of this area – still lots of independent retailers, selling unique things, but also with a good mix of more international (and also Portuguese brands). My favourite? The chestnut vendor, which is part of Lisbon’s scenery this time of the year.
Paris em Lisboa is one of Lisbon’s oldest shops (Paris in Lisbon, as you could probably guess). I remember going there when I was a little girl with my mother, to buy housewares. It is still going strong, and we couldn’t resist some good sheets and, of course, towels for our new house. Service matches the price (ha) and is absolutely worth having a look.
A recent (not this year) arrival to this area is A Vida Portuguesa which translates as “The Portuguese life”, which recreates old shopping experiences. Its founders went back to our roots and resurrected some of Portugal’s oldest brands. It is so nice – from soap bars to canned tuna, to perfumes and old-fashioned toys. I love this place and always make sure I pop round.
We continued down Rua Garrett, stopping along a few shops (you are spoiled for choice) but mainly, just enjoying the walk. By this stage we were close to Armazens do Chiado, which were burned down in 1988 and subsequently rebuilt as a little shopping centre, with also a good selection of shops.
At this time, it was perfect for lunch, so we met my parents and sibblings and headed to the other side of the bridge, where we enjoyed grilled red mullet and other wonderful things. I would love to share pictures with you, but was too hungry, and none were taken!
We spent the rest of the afternoon with my family, just lounging around and catching up. I really miss them a lot – I know I am fortunate that we are only 2 hours and a bit away, but I miss seeing them every day. At least we can talk on the phone etc, but still breaks my heart to this day, when we have to say goodbye.
When it got to dinner time, Mr O and I knew exactly what we wanted: not a fancy restaurant at all. We missed Portuguese seafood and that means only one place: Cervejaria Ramiro. This means Iberian ham, outstanding seafood, beer (which I don’t like, so I will treat myself to a glass of wine) but still eat the lovely yellow thingies. I have no idea what they are called in English – if anyone knows, please do tell me. Mr. O just calls them yellow thingies.
From here, it was time for a drink before a good night’s sleep – and we wanted to try out the specialty cocktails at the brand new Independente Hostel & Suites. I know what you are thinking – Mrs. O went to a hostel? Well, yes. I had read about this place and it seems to combine two extremes of the hospitality market. It has a cool restaurant and a great bar and I can say we had possibly some of the most creative cocktails ever. Interestingly, my friend Fiona Hilliard from Dublin recently stayed and reviewed this property. If you want to know a bit more, visit her blog.
These drinks were, without a doubt, the perfect ending to a perfect day in Lisbon, my hometown which I miss dearly. I cannot wait to go back 🙂
Disclaimer: on this trip, I was a guest of The York House. I have known this property for many years and really enjoyed staying there. Opinions, are, as always, my own.