Last look around Lisbon
Ruins and Relics
Having seen the Carmo Convent lit up the night before, we were itching to get inside to see it in daylight. We headed straight back to Manteigaria for a breakfast of champions (an undisclosed number of pastéis de nata!) and ambled our way back to the entrance of the Carmo Monastery and Archaeological Museum. It’s an inexpensive visit at €4 and well worth taking time to explore. The earthquake of 1755 left it roofless and exposed the awesome arches that kept the nave intact. Seeing gothic architecture stripped bare like this really gives you an appreciation of the engineering that went into building Lisbon’s largest church in the fourteenth century. It also houses a museum dedicated to preserving ancient religious relics and tombs and there’s even mummies and stone-age artefacts on display.
Leisurely strolls and lovely lunches
When we walked back out onto the pretty square outside the monastery we decided to ditch the map and wander through the streets. We headed away from busy Baixa/Chiado district and found plenty of tiny streets lined with orange trees and one of the steepest tram lines we’ve ever seen. We ended up at a beautiful viewpoint called Miradouro de Santa Catarina where people were simply chillaxing and enjoying the ambient flute playing of a very happy hippie who twirled and danced in the sunshine! It has lovely big trees that provide shade in the hot summer with a café terrace for drinks and close-up views of the river. Our bellies started rumbling so we headed for La Bottega Piadina for a taste of Italian flatbreads with delicious fillings and zesty freshly-made lemonade. It’s a great little place with friendly staff and it was a perfect lunch, filling but light enough to keep us on our feet for the rest of the day.
All aboard Lisbon’s oldest tram
We caught Tram 28 so we could get pulled up the hills towards a Miradouro we wanted to be there for the sunset. We enjoyed the experience although it got stuck for quite a long time in a traffic jam of what seemed to be important people in limos and lots of press. We didn’t mind at all, we were in no hurry and we had a window seat. When we arrived at our stop we only had a short walk to the Miradouro and we got a table right on the edge overlooking the city. Sitting here for the sunset was a highlight of our trip to Lisbon. The Miradouro is in front of a gorgeous big church and conveniently there’s a café with tables and chairs looking out over the city. It’s got to be one of the best spots for sunset, with views down to the river and up to the Castle. Have a coffee, glass of wine or a cold beer a few snacks and watch the sun sink into the horizon. Perfection!
Multicultural Martim Moniz Square
It was time for another nighttime stroll before dinner and we wandered into Mouraria, the Moorish district, filled with quirky old shops, asian markets, Turkish kebab cafés and loads of souvenir shops selling the famous Portuguese cork goods and ceramic roosters. We settled on a shop run by a friendly guy from Bangladesh and he gave us ‘a very good price’ on a few presents for people at home. Arriving in Martim Moniz Square it was buzzing with activity and we just had to stop for a (very strong) cocktail to soak in the atmosphere and there was a fantastic view of the Castle right above us. It’s an amazing multicultural hive of activity, very family friendly, loads of kids and babies having fun and on the weekends there’s a fusion market with DJ’s. We were sorry we would miss it but we’ll just have to go back to sample it (any excuse to go back to Lisbon!).
Fabulous Fado in Alfama
We ended up wandering South via Rossio Square for some festive feels and a sample of mulled wine and then headed for the Alfama District. We’d read about the famous Fado singers of Portugal and went looking for a restaurant that could serenade us as well as feed us. We stumbled into Porta de Alfama, a tiny family-run restaurant that hosts wonderful musicians for a great night of Fado. It’s a very informal atmosphere and all of the staff have beautiful voices and genuine passion for every song they sing. Your night here will be memorable for the atmosphere and the music but not for the food, unfortunately! The food is below par and pricey but the wine is cheap and flowing! You could probably eat somewhere before or after and just get a drink and some light snacks here. It's really worth it for the Fado and you’ll probably see some local diners crying at some of the songs they’re so moving.
Port is our Precious!
We weren’t exactly full after our dinner so we went looking for Port and Portuguese cheese to finish off the night. Porto Wine Bar was very near our hostel so we didn’t have to worry about walking too far after indulging. It’s popular with tourists but for good reason. The port and wine selections are outstanding and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. We got to sample a few along with various cured meats and cheeses and decided that Port might just be our weakness! We really enjoyed our couple of hours here to round off the night. It’s very romantic with dark wood wine barrels and candlelight - yet another reason to return to Lisbon! We went to bed happy and excited for our trip to Sintra next day - read about that here.