I love to pour over the most recent travel magazines to see where the top destinations are for the current year. One place that has kept popping up over and over again is Lisbon, Portugal. My boyfriend and I decided to take advantage of a long layover and to explore the city on our way to new apartment in Spain. We didn’t arrive in Lisbon until six in the morning, and we both knew it would be a long day before we were able to relax.
Despite this, we downed some coffee and took the metro from the airport to the city center. All I had seen were pictures from the likes of National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure, so I was looking forward to experiencing the city in person. It took a while to find out where the action was, but once we made it into town, there was plenty to do in order to keep us busy for the next few hours.
We were quickly attracted to two aspects of the city: the views from above and the number of museums that were available. We quickly ducked into the Carmo Convent, where we found plenty of Medieval and even prehistoric artifacts. I could feel my initial coffee wearing off, so I was starting to giggle at some of the mixture of modern and antique art. We even came across a Peruvian mummy—an interesting way to start the morning.
Afterward, we took a few steps over to the elevator in the middle of the city. We paid three euro to climb to the top, where we were afforded the views that I had admired in my travel magazines. Lisbon from above was uniquely beautiful. I had never seen a color palate quite like it in any city I had visited, and it was even prettier as the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds. We spent ten minutes up there, taking pictures and finding out where we wanted to go next.
We wove our way down to Rossio Square and smelled the ocean breezes. It was a quiet, early afternoon, and our stomachs started to rumble as we walked by seafood dishes and glasses of Porto wine. It took a moment or two before we found a place we liked, but it didn’t take us long to order cuttlefish and fried squid. Lisbon’s seafood? 10/10.
Our final attraction was Sao Jorge Castle. I’ve been to a number of castles, and to be honest, this one was a bit of a disappointment. We paid eight euro to get in (which was five more than what we did for the much larger and more impressive one in Malaga a few days later). However, it was worth it to relax in the sun—the perfect antidote to a tough winter.
After a long day, we decided to head back to the airport to catch our flight to Spain—both of us with mixed emotions about the city. I was expecting to fall in love, but by the end of our time there, it left me feeling empty. I would have loved to visit the city with someone who knew it and loved it well. It would have made quite the difference. And probably some sleep, as well.
Have you ever been to a spot where you were disappointed?