Crazy, Random 48 Hours in Lisbon
It’s been a crazy, random 48 hours in Lisbon. The food is wonderful, the people are friendly and there’s tons of things to do. What more could you ask for in a city?
We decided to stay a bit longer in Spain than we originally planned, which meant by the time we got to Lisbon, we only had two days left to explore before heading to Keela Yoga Farm. We wanted to make the most of it, but we knew 48 hours would not be enough time to experience everything the city had to offer.
Without doing much research we gave it our best shot. Here are seven things that happened to us during our 48 hours in Lisbon:
#1 We Showed Up an Hour Early For Our Walking Tour
First, we booked a Bla Bla Car, a car sharing service like Uber but for longer distances, from Cordoba, Spain to Lisbon, Portugal. These ride sharing services are a great way to meet the locals and get advice on what to do and where to go.
In this instance, our Bla Bla Car didn’t leave Cordoba until 7:00 PM, which meant we didn’t get to our hostel in Lisbon until 1:00 AM. I had already booked a tour for the following morning at 10:00 AM.
We woke up at 8:00 am, dazed, tired and unfamiliar with the city. We tried to navigate where to go. After a thirty minute walk, we stumbled upon the plaza where the tour was supposed to begin. We arrived eight minutes late and no one was around. We were either lost or the tour left without us.
In the plaza, there was another woman standing there who also looked as if she was lost. I asked her if she was planning on attending the Free Walking Tour. She said, “Yes” and I proceeded to ask her if she thought we had missed it since we were minutes late?
She said, “It’s only 9:10 and it doesn’t start until 10.” We both looked at our watches and started to laugh. Since we had arrived so late the night before, we never turned on our phones or logged on to wifi to realize that Portugal is an hour behind Spain.
On a positive note, at least we weren’t late and the tour ended up being amazing. It was the best Free Walking Tour we had been on so far during this trip.
#2 We Broke a Vending Machine That Dispenses Wine
After our walking tour we stopped to try some Vinho Verde; a Portuguese wine named after the color of the grape when it’s picked, not the color of the wine. It’s local to the Minho province of Portugal (far north) and was recommended by our tour guide.
The “winery” was like nothing we have ever seen before. There was no bartenders or no waiters. It had multiple self-serving vending machines where you choose the wine you want to try, insert the prepaid card and place your glass underneath the spout. You could get a glass of wine for as little as .75 cents. What a great idea!!!
This looked easy enough…….but not for us!! We really had no idea what we were doing. Once we put money on our prepaid card, Karl kept inserting the card and nothing was happening. We were so excited to drink wine that Karl got a little to excited and snapped the card while it was still inside the machine. Oops……
After twenty minutes of trying to pry the card out and a lot of ugly stares from the young gal working there, we were finally able to taste the wine. This made the vinho verde well worth the wait.
#3 The LX Factory
After leaving the wine tasting, our next plan was to head to the LX Factory, which was another recommendation from our local guide. She had pointed out the area where the Factory was located on our fold-up map but the actual Factory was outside the city center and therefore not on our fold-up map.
Since we had a buzz and we’re feeling good, we started to walk in that direction. We continued to walk and walk and walk until we started to become tired. We nearly gave up right before we stumbled upon a tuk tuk. The driver was Portuguese and he knew where the LX Factory was located and said it would only cost us an additional €5. We happily jumped on. Come to find out, we still had another mile to walk from where we were, so the tuk tuk was a very good idea.
The LX factory was a little gem to find and can be described as a hip area full of old factory buildings turned into boutique shops, art galleries and trendy restaurants. The old warehouses are covered with street-art which is a good representation of the art scene here in Lisbon. At one point the city legalized “street art” on buildings in attempt to make old run down buildings look better instead of just unorganized and ugly graffiti everywhere.
We were told once we make it to the Factory, we needed to find the bookstore and go to the top floor. Apparently there is an old Portuguese guy who speaks terrible English and makes crazy inventions.
Sure enough we found the book store and headed to the top floor. There he was!! He was a very old guy showing off his crazy inventions with recycled pieces of anything and everything. One of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.
Totally worth the trip!
#4 Trying to Find a Restaurant
Day one was almost over except that it would end in another walk across town. This time it was an attempt to find a restaurant recommended by our Bla Bla car driver. Once again, we’re only using our fold up map because we have no wifi on our phones.
As we were walking, Karl was stopped multiple times and was asked if he wanted to buy drugs. He hasn’t had a hair cut since we’ve been on the road for three months (don’t tell his mom) and he never shaves anymore so apparently he looks like he does drugs. Just to be clear we DID NOT BUY DRUGS!
After multiple drug encounters, we continued to climb up and down the steep, narrow alleyways of Lisbon searching for the Eurico restaurant. We were taking roads and alleys that weren’t on the map. We finally made it to this tiny whole-in-the-wall place but it looked closed. I thought, it surely can’t be closed, it’s dinner time. We walked all the way around the restaurant and never found another entrance. When we returned back to the front, there were other people wondering why it was closed as well. The Portuguese like to enjoy siestas as well but it was 9:00 at this point. We felt defeated and hungry and luckily we were able to find another restaurant nearby.
Day one was over (Thank God!!) and now we were ready for a good night of sleep.
#5 The Longest Bus Trip to the Tiniest Beach and the Best Pastry Ever
The next day we set out with the goal of finding a beach to relax and to eat the famous Portuguese pastry, Pastel de Nata. Still not having any time to do research, we asked the girl working at our hostel how to get to Belém, the area of town that looked to be close to the beach and the bakery with the pastry.
She was the one who had originally told us to go to Belém and she proceeded to give us directions to the local bus stop. She told us to take the bus because it was a “straight shot” versus taking the metro.
The good news was the bus stop was only two blocks from our hostel. We proceeded to the stop she told us to go to. After waiting thirty minutes, a nice lady realized what we were trying to do. She told us we were at the wrong bus stop and pointed us to the correct bus stop. We had to walk around the corner where we were forced to wait again.
The bus finally picked us up from the new stop and we were packed in like sardines (which is also a nice local dish in Lisbon). What looked to be a ten minute bus ride on our map, turned out to be a forty-five minute ride with nearly 20 stops in between. Holding on the pole for dear life made it the longest city bus trip ever! We could’ve probably walked faster…..
Once we got close to Belém, we had no idea which stop to get off at. We exited the bus when most of the others exited and it appeared we were in Belém. We followed the crowd for a few blocks and noticed a line of people waiting outside the famous Pastéis de Belém Restaurant.
Karl’s mom insisted we had to go there and try the famous Portuguese pastry. She recommended we skip the line of people outside and eat inside the restaurant. So we did just that. We walked the very long corridor noticing nothing but table after table. I thought we would never get to the end of the restaurant to find our seat. This was one of the largest restaurants I have ever been to. And no wonder the restaurant is so big, the pastries were absolutely divine. The eggy, gooey, sweet, deliciousness was to die for!
After gorging ourselves with the delicious pastries, we made our way down the touristy mess of Belém with the goal of making it to a beach. After walking what felt like miles we finally made it to the smallest beach I’ve ever seen. It was laughable. It was wedged between a warehouse and a marina. There were only 8 other people there.
At this point I wished we would have done some research and maybe taken public transportation to a larger beach. Now, we were so tired from walking, we no longer cared about the size of the beach. We jumped in the freezing cold water for a few minutes and then stood on the sand to dry off. Not what I would call a day at the beach but this is what happens when you totally “wing it” in cities you know nothing about.
It would be nice to have a picture of this tiny beach but the entire 48 hours we spent in Lisbon we did not have our camera and my iPhone 5 had run out of space for more pictures. To be far to Lisbon it is way prettier than my old iPhone depicts.
#6 Ate Dinner with Friends from the States
We ended our two days of adventure in Lisbon by meeting our friends from America for dinner. Rebecca and Joe had been traveling for the last four months and our paths just so happened to cross in Lisbon. I love serendipitous and spontaneous occasions and this was definitely one of them.
During dinner we shared travel stories and ate the local cuisine; sardines. Their itinerary was much more busier than ours and they had been to a lot more countries and cities than we had. We enjoyed a port wine tasting and shared stories about the best and worst countries they had been to.
It was a beautiful coincidence that ended our trip in Lisbon with so much joy!
Overall, Lisbon is a wonderful city! I know I will be back to visit and maybe even live here one day. We only just touched the surface of what this city has to offer but culturally this place is full life. We will always remember our crazy, random 48 hours in Lisbon.