Lisbon Calling – Week 1: January 15th to 21st
My first week in Lisbon has officially come to an end and here is a quick recap of it. My mum flew with me and is staying for another week before I start school. It still does not feel like I’ll be studying here for five months but I think it will hit me when she leaves…it kind of feels like I am just on vacation right now.
In this post, I will be sharing what I did this past week and some things I have learned about Lisbon.
We arrived in Lisbon in the morning and was picked up at the airport by my exchange buddy Francisco. He gave us a very warm welcome and helped us move into my new home for the next five months.
I live in the neighbourhood Bica which is super close to downtown and the metro station Baixa-Chiado. This is actually the most touristy area to live in, which means it’s a lot busier and restaurants actually tend to be pricier too.
Arriving in Lisbon
We arrived on a Sunday and I’m not sure if this is all around Europe but on Sundays, a lot of stores and restaurants are not open to the public. There were fewer people outside too, which was an interesting thing to experience.
On the first night, we went to this place called the Time Out Market for dinner. My mum and I ordered a few dishes and it was pretty tasty. People were also swing dancing in the square so food and entertainment is always a good combination. This is a very touristy destination and I actually found it on Yelp. If you’d like a more authentic experience and want to try Portuguese food I recommend Casa de India or Principe do Calhariz. In Portugal, people use this app called Zomato, which is very similar to Yelp and it has been very useful.
First Portuguese Breakfast
The next day we grabbed breakfast at a cafe close to my new house and had a very typical Portuguese breakfast- an espresso with pasteis de nata (Portugese tarts). Here, everyone drinks espresso. If that’s not your thing they also offer americanos and galao (espresso and foamed milk) too.
Afterwards, we did some shopping (of course). We hit all the Inditex stores evidently…This includes Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, Pull and Bear, Stradivarius and Uterque. In Canada, they only offer Zara, Zara Home and Massimo Dutti so it was my first time visiting the other stores. Something interesting here is that the tax is already included in the price shown on the product you decide to purchase.
Lisbon aka City of Hills
In Lisbon, there are about seven Miradouro (scenic spots) and I live five minutes away from one of them. These places are usually filled with people sitting around, chatting, and soaking in the sun. Lisbon is also a city composed of seven hills so the roads are super steep and there are many treacherous walks up. Because of this, many people walk in really comfortable shoes and I have yet to see any girl strut in some high heels. I guess I won’t be using mine anytime soon either…
On Tuesday, I rode the Metro to visit my school. Here, they call the Subway system the Metro. Their Metro is so deep underground we had to use four escalators to enter the Metro system. The Metro here also gets service underground which was a huge plus.
On Wednesday we walked around Lisbon and headed to Marque de Pombal. Close by, there was another Miraoudouro and we watched the sunset there. In my opinion, it has the most beautiful view of Lisbon. By the end of exchange, I think I can officially put ‘Watching Sunsets’ on my list of hobbies.
On Thursday, we had a casual day and ate in. We grocery shopped earlier in the day and the bread here is so delicious. I cannot get over how inexpensive and tasty it is…Before dinner, we caught the sunset at the Miradouro near my house.
On Friday, we grabbed brunch at the cafe called Nicolau Cafe and spent our afternoon in Alfama visiting some historic monuments including Castelo de S. Jorge and Se de Lisboa.
Lastly, on the weekend, we took the train to Belem and visited some more historic monuments such as Mosterio dos Jeronimos, Torre de Belem, Padrao dos Descobrimentos, and the MAAT.
Mosterio dos Jeronimos
Padrao dos Descobrimentos
Torre de Belem
We stayed in Belem until the sunset, it was really pretty seeing how the MAAT changed with the sun reflecting onto it.
Overall, it was a good first week in Lisbon. The people here are super friendly and it’s always sunny here! I think that’s two important things you should always look for in a trip.
I aim to post weekly recaps of my exchange experience. Tune in next week! 🙂
Thanks for reading,