Another week in Lisbon
From 18th–23rd November, I spent another week in Lisbon with my partner.
The journey has become a pilgrimage of sorts. But the experience is more spiritual than religious and for the second time, I got to share it with my partner, Shelley, who loves the city almost as much as me. So this is how it went.
Saturday - Sábado
Our flight was at 7:30am at London-Luton Airport. We’d driven down the night before and stayed at a nearby hotel. We even had time to get some dinner in Luton town centre, which I’d not visited in about 6 years (much had changed and much had stayed the same). The flight out was delayed by over an hour due to fog but it went smoothly once we were up in the air. The journey from the airport to my hotel was as smooth as it had ever been the other 3 times I’d done it. I still marveled at having 4G underground. We stayed at the same hotel as before: Lisbon City Hotel. Our room was smaller than last time but big enough for what we needed: somewhere to chill and sleep. And we got a balcony which my partner took full advantage of.
Since we got there early afternoon, we managed to have lunch at a place we’d visited the year before called Tapas n’ Friends. The food was delicious and I practically inhaled everything, along with an espresso martini! When in Lisbon and all that. We then went shopping in Baixa-Chiado and I got a zipped jumper and some records. It’d been years since I’d gone crate digging so I relished the opportunity. The two LPs I got were Clues and Riptide by Robert Palmer.
For dinner, we hit a spot we visited last year called Pizza Wizard. My partner was eager to go back as was I and the pizzas did not disappoint. Great crusts, great dough, great toppings. I only had a few slices as I wasn’t super hungry but it was enough and we left satisfied. Obrigado, Pizza Wizard!
Sunday - Domingo
Our first full day. We had breakfast, the classic continental breakfast with our favourite panpipe music playing on the speakers; it’s become our thing now.
We decided to go to Museu Calouste Gulbenkian after missing it last year. Because they were redecorating the modernist section, we explored the main building which housed classical art from Greco-Roman eras up to 19th century. The grounds are an homage to early 20th century modernism and Brutalism with its extensive use of concrete. My partner walked around and pointed out the various plants and we discovered one we’d never heard of before (the West Indian Lantana ). We also had a drink and some pastéis de nata at the main café before we explored the art.
With time to kill, we took the Metro down to the coast and walked across to Cais do Sodre but before we did, we stopped off at a restaurant called Bel Forno. Great pizza and even better sangria that my partner enjoyed. Afterwards, we reached the Praça do Comércio and enjoyed the space and the sculptures around us before we stopped to watch a street performance (I will add their names once I find them!) It was very entertaining!
Once it was over, we made our way back to our hotel to rest before one final trip out for dinner to a place called Crispy Mafya. It’s a fried chicken restaurant and, unlike last year, I was ready to have a proper meal. I had a “New York Burger” and it tasted so good. The ambience was super chill, even with occupied tables, and the music was perfect with a heavy slant on UK hip hop, grime, and drill (Giggs was on maybe three times? You love to see it!)
A very cultured day.
Monday - Segunda-feira
Monday started with a trip to Belém and an attempt to visit the Jerónimos Monastery. However, despite Google claiming it was open all day on Mondays… it wasn’t (I’ve sent them proof so hopefully they change it so others don’t make the same mistake). We took some photos and walked across to the Centro Cultural de Belém to see what happened to the old Museu Coleção Berardo (now called MAC-CCB). However, it was also closed on Mondays which I didn’t realise until writing this just now 🤦🏽♂️
We took a long-ish walk across the main road to a little café/restaurant by the River Tagus (Rio Tejo) so we could eat and I could pee (lol). We both had a burger and chips with a ginger ale. Living the dream! The main reason for crossing over to the riverside was to visit MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) and it had some new features since we visited last year. The biggest change was the renaming of the three sections of the museum, now called MAAT Garden, MAAT Central, and MAAT Gallery. MAAT Gallery had some new exhibits with art from Joana Vasconcelos, Mário Cesariny, and pieces from the Carmona e Costa Foundation Collection, Portugal’s largest private collection. I really enjoyed the various art and my partner ADORED it, especially the textiles from Joana Vasconcelos’s exhibit. I loved seeing her eyes light up 🥰
In the evening, we went to our favourite restaurant: Atalho do Cais. For me, it has quintessential Portuguese/Brazilian vibes in terms of ambience and decor. But the food hails from different lands, serving a mix of Iberian meats and Japanese sushi dishes. The star of the show was the wagyu beef carpaccio that my partner might have loved more than me by the sounds of things 😂 but again, I was happy to see her so happy and enjoying the food and the atmosphere like I was. I had some fancy garlic bread, another burger, and a chocolate cake for pudding. I even had space for wedges and I’m sure everything was sprinkled with crack because it was all so moreish!
Tuesday - Terça-feira
Tuesday was the day I revisited Estádio José Alvalade, Sporting CP’s home stadium. It was the first time I’d been back since 2017 much to the faux-disdain of my partner who “supports” Benfica, a decision heavily influenced by their star striker, Gonçalo Ramos. The stadium also has the Alvaláxia shopping centre attached to it so we walked through there (I’d done the same before the match I went to in 2017) and then walked around the outside until we reached the team shop. I spent a long time browsing for things to get and in the end, my partner bought me a new shirt and a tracktop as an early birthday present and I got a notebook and pin for myself.
For dinner, we wanted to go back to Pizza Wizard but they weren’t open, sadly. But their loss was another restaurant’s gain as we had dinner at Anarchia. Again, gorgeous decor and delicious food. I wanted all their cutlery and crockery! Afterwards, we ambled back to the hotel, which wasn’t far from the restaurant, and waited for 12:00am to clock over so I could usher in another year of my birth!
Wednesday - Quarta-feira
My sixth birthday spent abroad, my fourth in Lisbon, and my second with my partner - but what to do? Well, after midnight, I opened one of my presents which was a Pokémon TCG Scarlet & Violet Elite Trainer Box and I opened a couple of packs (one had a pull!)
After some much needed sleep, we had breakfast and got ready for the day ahead. We’d planned to go to the Oceanário de Lisboa again as we went last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. But i also wanted to visit the nearby Vasco do Gama shopping centre before heading down to our birthday dinner spot called Las Ficheras.
Oceanário de Lisboa was amazing, as expected. We traversed the different biomes, full of marine life both flora and fauna, before heading to the café for lunch. I had a pasta salad and apple crumble for dessert. Eating the crumble was excavating a fossil site it was so hard, but tasty nonetheless. We took a trip over the river via cable car and eventually found our way to the shopping centre. I got a few goodies from Fnac before heading back to the hotel to rest and making it back out to Las Ficheras for dinner. I had a quesadilla for main and a chocolate “mousse” for dessert (it wasn’t as airy as expected but it was still sweet and tasty).
One of the best birthdays I’ve had in a while.
Thursday - Quinta-feira
Our last day in Lisbon.
Because our flight was in the evening, we had some time to kill so we headed to El Corte Inglés to get some Christmas tree decorations and have lunch nearby. I was sad to leave but it’s become a ritual to start the festivities after my birthday and that cushioned the blow a little.
I had a wonderful time and sharing it with my partner again was a significant factor in that. I can’t wait to go back with her and be in my happy place with my favourite human being.