I took a little break with this blog (actually 5 months … okay, a big break!), but I’m excited to get back with another post.
Why so long?
During my hiatus I released my new novel Lost in the Fog, which was praised by Kirkus, an industry-trusted source for reviews since 1933. They raved, “Thriller enthusiasts will want to add this well-sculpted heist drama to their collections.” With that great news I have been promoting the book the best I can during this pandemic. I’ve also been working on the sequel, Camden & Veronica Book 2 (still untitled), which is set in Hawaii.
However, finishing what I started with this travel blog remains an important goal. I’m determined to get down the rest of the story of the 4 months I spent wandering the globe with J’Nell in 2019. It seems even more important now, with the pandemic still canceling most all international travel plans.
Before continuing, here’s a quick recap (previous posts can be found in reverse chronology in the archives) for anyone new to the blog:
We left our home in Hawaii on September 1, 2019 and flew to San Francisco to meet up with friends. From there we got a direct flight to Paris, and stayed four nights in my favorite city. Next we boarded a train to St. Jean Pied de Port, the town that begins the Camino Frances in the Pyrenees Mountains.
On September 12th we started what would be our 550 mile walk from France all the way across Spain to the ocean at Finisterre. After we finished and the calendar flipped to November, Portugal was next on our itinerary. My last few blog posts chronicled our visits to Porto and Coimbra.
Next would be Lisbon (we arrived on November 13, 2019), the capital and largest city in the country, and we spent 11 wonderful nights there. With this post I’m mixing up the format from previous ones. I’m focusing more on the photos, and I’m sharing collages with brief commentaries in an attempt to show why Lisbon is so special.
On our first day and night there we quickly discovered the miradouros, the viewpoints where you can look down and admire this fantastic city. Hours into our visit we knew we were going to love this magical place.
While there’s plenty of activities in Lisbon, my favorite was to just wander aimlessly and dig the look and feel of the city. We stayed in the Alfama district, which is a charming old world maze of steep and narrow streets, white washed houses, Fado music restaurants, and a mishmash of other elements to make you smile. But there are so many other cool neighborhoods to explore (all with outstanding architecture), and we got to as many as we could.
There’s an abundance of history to appreciate in Lisbon, but it’s also a city with a new and vibrant culture to explore. The LX Factory is one such place, a sprawling collection of cool bars, restaurants, and shops housed in repurposed 19th century factories. We loved it there and visited twice.
Ahh, Belem. Located at the western edge of the city, you need to board a tram, bus, or hire a cab or Uber to get there (there’s apparently a boat option, but I didn’t research it). It’s a must see area, with Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) and Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) anchoring your visit here. Don’t miss trying Lisbon’s iconic and delicious nata pastries (custard tarts) at Pastéis de Belém, the place where they were first sold in 1837. While not old for a country steeped in history, the ginormous Age of Discovery monument (Padrão dos Descobrimentos, completed in 1960) overlooking the water is an awesome sight.
The bar scene in Lisbon is fun, eclectic, high quality, and could be my favorite of all the cities I’ve visited in Europe. It’s deserving of it’s own separate blog post, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to that. Here’s a quick recap instead:
From historic cafes (À Brasileira, Café Nicola), to an old brothel converted into a hip lounge (Pensão Amor), to a bar recently created from a century old comic book (Corto Maltese), to breweries set in an 800 year-old monastery (Cervejaria Trindade) and one in a tunnel that used to be an old horse path to the Royal Palace (Quimera Brewpub), to a tiny speakeasy where you can taste the finest cocktails and meet new friends (Ulysses), to the iconic Ginjinha joints, to all the outside kiosks, to the many places at the miraduoros to drink and watch the sunset, and everything else you likely would not be able to dream-up. We did our best to drink (and eat) our way around Lisbon, and only experienced a fraction of what it has to offer.
Here are some more photos from all the miradouros we visited. Each one was jaw-droppingly beautiful and it’s impossible to pick a favorite.
When the pandemic ends I urge you to get to Lisbon as soon as you can. Everywhere you turn there is something beautiful and interesting to admire, the people we met were all friendly and welcoming, and it’s just a super fun city. I cannot wait to return.