"Lisbon is ramshackle, trendy, and charming all at once — an endearing mix of now and then. Vintage trolleys shiver up and down its hills, bird-stained statues mark grand squares, taxis rattle and screech through cobbled lanes, and Art Nouveau cafés are filled equally with well-worn and well-dressed locals — nursing their coffees side-by-side." —Rick Steves
Our tour kicked off in Lisbon, Portugal's capital city. And what a place to start.
We spent three nights there, getting acquainted with each other and the city, and began to learn about the culture. We enjoyed walking tours, a bus tour, a couple of fun dinners together—one with a spine-tingling fado performance (see Experiences)—and some time to explore on our own.
Here's a few of the things I'll remember most about this beautiful place:
- The city's unique atmosphere, which to me felt like a hilly, red-roofed, tile-bedecked hybrid of London and Paris
- Views from Castelo de São Jorge atop the city—and a harrowing ride there packed into a city bus like sardines
- A happenchance experience at the bustling Praça da Figueira pop-up food market packed with vendors selling grilled meat and sangria; it was gone the next day (I learned later the market is set up the last weekend of every month and dates back to 1755)
- The Time Out Food Market with row after row of tempting food and drink stalls, where I tried some delicious local food and drink
- An Uber ride to the National Tile Museum during free time with three others from our group, listening to Queen's "Radio Gaga" as we snaked through Lisbon's narrow streets
- Trying to experience a ride on the famous trolley cars during free time, only to be foiled by humongous crowds
Elegant, artistic details abound throughout Lisbon.
Click photos to enlarge.