Saturday, May 24, 2014

Travel Diary: Colorful, Crooked, Charming Lisbon

Believe it or not, Todd and I weren't sure if we would like Lisbon. We'd heard mixed reviews of the city, some calling it shabby, its residents unfriendly. It turned out to be one of our favorite places we've ever been.

We left Boston Friday night and landed in Portugal early Saturday morning. Neither of us slept very well on the plane, so we were running on fumes by the time we arrived in Lisbon. We climbed a massive hill to our apartment, located in the oldest part of the city just outside the castle walls. After a quick shower (and excited bouncing around the apartment on my part), we set out to find some lunch.

I couldn't get enough of Lisbon's iconic yellow trams, which chugged up and down the cobblestone streets, leaving just a foot or two for people on the sidewalk. We rode one much later that night, after the tourists had cleared out, and it was an unforgettable experience.

We quickly discovered just how hilly Lisbon is, and we stopped every now and then at scenic overlooks, busy squares, and dimly lit bars, resting our feet and soaking up the atmosphere. We stayed awake by alternating between cheap glasses of vinho verde, espresso, and shots of ginjinha, a sticky sweet sour cherry liqueur.

Lisbon is known for its colorful, intricate tile work, and I was blown away by how prevalent it is throughout the city. I've never seen such beautiful buildings in my life. Lisbon's age shows in its peeling paint and imperfections, but it has a proud elegance, too.

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