After a grueling six hour layover in Philadelphia, two glasses of wine and a 7-hour overnight flight, we finally landed in Lisbon at 8:30AM Monday morning. The airport was easy enough to navigate, the signs herded us like cattle through hallways to immigration, baggage claim, and finally out to the reception area. The tourism booth was straight ahead, where various tour packages were waiting to be purchased.
We opted for the Lisboa card that would grant us 72 hour access to metro, train and tram lines as well as access to museums, discounts and other attractions. For 39 euro plus 10% off student discount, this is a great option to maximize adventure and mobility within the city.
The metro in Lisbon is located within the airport, making it easier to access the city center upon arrival. Not only was access convenient, but the cleanliness of the subway cars and the platforms blew me away. Caricatures, murals, and artistic pieces lined the walls of the tunnels, giving what would normally be a brutalist, ugly hallway the sentiment of an eclectic art gallery.
We managed to haul all our luggage through the metro and up a few blocks to the holiday inn, our home for the next four days. The deal my mom got on the hotel was great, about $40 per person per night for decent-sized rooms and most importantly, unlimited free wi fi. A nap was in order, the plan to meet in the lobby to begin exploring at 15:00.
Post-nap the journey began on the train headed to the city center. Getting off at the terreiro de paco stop put us right at the Praça do Comércio, a lovely wraparound of mustard yellow buildings overlooking the ocean.
The spray of the ocean left a salty aroma in the air that relieved the travel nausea and sparked hunger that took over my body. Right in the square was a lovely cafe, Aura. The vegetarian crepe stuffed with spinach and topped with cheese was a delicious mid day meal, and a frothy cappuccino gave me the caffeine boost I so desperately needed.
Moving onward and upward, we began walking uphill toward Se a lovely church with tall bell towers. Besides the fact that they are usually a free thing to tour, I’m not a huge European church fanatic. The gold adornments and stained glass and huge murals are beautiful and impressive, definitely worth a visit during a trip to Lisbon regardless of religious affiliation.
Rides up on the iconic, yellow tram 28 took us to beautiful views. It was absolutely terrifying, as the trolley was very packed and the tracks were shaky and rickety the whole way up and down. Right before dinner we decided to do the Santa Justa lift, a fancy elevator that gave beautiful overlooking views of the city.
It was a long wait, but free entry with the Lisboa card, and at the top it connected us with a walkway that eventually led to our dinner at Stasha, a fantastic, elegant restaurant hidden down one of the many winding alleyways of Lisbon’s streets.
Located at Rua das Gaveas, this restaurant completely blew me away. The food was excellent and the service was really incredible. The waiter and waitress made us feel at home and were so kind and good with making recommendations. I had the mushroom risotto and tried my mom’s codfish entree. Everything was delicious and for dessert, I tried the passion fruit mousse. It was the perfect finale to a great meal, accompanied with complementary port wine. I cannot recommend this restaurant more to people spending time in Lisbon.
Day one was successful, managed to see a lot and get over most of my jet lag. The Portuguese people are extremely nice and welcoming, and it is very easy to get around the city efficiently. The metro is clean and fast and overall the city feels very safe and open minded.