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Lisbon Trip - May 2013

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Torrance, California
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Lisbon Trip - May 2013

We were in Lisbon for 5 days in May 2013. I wanted to thank everyone on the Forum for answering my many questions. Lisbon is a great city and we enjoyed our visit.

I just wanted to jot down some of my thoughts on the questions I had before our trip.

Weather - The five days we were in Lisbon, we experienced a full range of temperatures. From downright cold (50F - yes, this is cold to us. We're from Southern California.) to hot and sunny (75F). Mostly sunny but a few days of cloud. No rain.

Clothes - I see a lot of people asking on various forums on what they should wear. I always have that question myself before I visit a country I've never been to before. I know I'll look like a tourist no matter what (I'm Asian with a camera! ha ha) but I don't want to look too much out of place. Lisbon is a big city and I saw every style of clothing you can imagine. People in head-to-toe designer duds to people in shorts and slippers. Most people were somewhere in between. So my thought is - not to worry. Wear what you normally wear and be comfortable. My only recommendations are to wear layers (see Weather) and wear sensible shoes. Ladies - no matter how good you look in your high heels, they don't work so well on Lisbon's beautiful cobblestone streets.

Language - Portuguese is a very beautiful language but I don't speak a stitch of it. I had a phrase book with me but with my horrible pronunciation, no one understood what I was saying. Even with that, we were able to get by. People were very nice and tried very hard to help us. Use pantomime, it works. Always say Obrigado/obrigada.

Food - Very, very good and reasonably priced (compared to other European countries). We didn't know what we were ordering most of the time but it was fun and everything was tasty. My Husband ordered Polvo without knowing what it was and we both loved it! (It's Octopus.) I loved the Pasteis de Nata from Belem. Starbucks, McDonalds, Pizza Huts are everywhere so if you want to stick with American food, no problem. Although I think you'll miss out on a great experience.

Drinks - We never ordered anything other than house wine and it was always good and cheap. Try Blanco Verde. It's a bubbly, refreshing white wine. Beer is good and cheap (1.50 euro). Coca-Cola zero is everywhere. Ginginha was fun to try too.

Crime - I read everywhere to be careful of pickpockets! I was getting a little worried about that but when I got to Lisbon, we both felt very safe. Luckily we didn't experience any pickpockets. We did see an older Japanese woman tourist almost get pickpocketed on the tram but she caught him before he took anything and yelled "no!" really loud. Three guys walked away and got off the tram right away. My thoughts are - Lisbon is safe. Just be aware of your surroundings and you'll be fine. I wore a crossbody purse. My husband used a wallet that hooked on his belt. His camera was on a holster (w/lock) on his belt as well.

Where to stay - We stayed in an apartment on Rue Mae de Agua, near Jardim Botanica, the nearest metro is Avenida. I'm not sure if the area is Principal Real or Restauradores. Very nice area. Near everything but in a quiet, semi-residential area. Up a steep hill from Avenida Liberdade, pass a small park Praca da Alegria. Avenida Liberdade is a very posh, tree-lined avenue with high-end stores (like LV, Todd) that we never went into. Lot's of shops and restaurants within walking distance. We found the apartment on Airbnb, $67.00 per night. It was a bargain! Very nice one bedroom, unit has a cloth washer and bldg. has a lift. Easy walk to Baixa-Chiado area.

We loved Lisbon! We also loved Porto and Nazare.

Lisbon, Portugal
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1. Re: Lisbon Trip - May 2013

Thanks for sharing

Mississauga, ON
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2. Re: Lisbon Trip - May 2013

Thanks for posting your very positive trip report. We are looking forward to our upcoming second visit to Lisbon the end of this month.

Redmond, Washington
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3. Re: Lisbon Trip - May 2013

This is really useful for a 1st timer like myself (hopefully visiting 1st week of Sept). Do you mind sharing what you did those 5 days?

Torrance, California
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4. Re: Lisbon Trip - May 2013

We used the Rick Steve's guide book to help us plan our stay. There seems to be mixed reviews for his books on Tripadvisor but we like them and have used them in other countries with good success. That said, his restaurant recommendations were not great on this trip (Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon).

Here's what we did:

Day One: Belem District. It's about a 30-minute bus ride from city center. Visited the Monastery of Jeronimos, Monuments of Discoveries and Coach Museum. We paid to enter the cloisters in the Monastery. It was beautiful and I thought worth paying to see. The church was free. When we were there, a wedding ceremony was going on so we didn't get to walk around inside the church but we felt lucky to be able to see a wedding. The Coach Museum was good. We went to the Coach Museum in Munich last year so it was kind of a repeat for us. If you haven't seen royal coaches before, this is a good place to see them. We didn't make it to the Belem Tower. By the time existed the Coach Museum, a giant demonstration had started and there were thousands of people protesting on the streets. Roads were closed and no buses/trams were running. We thought it was best to get out asap so we walked about 2 miles and finally found a taxi to take us back into town. Exciting! Oh! Luckily - we already had gone to Pasteis de Belem and had their custard tarts. They were awesome and a must-try. Note - Even if there's a mad rush at the front counter, just walk inside and you'll find table service inside. The café is HUGE. (This post is getting long so I will continue on another post)

Torrance, California
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5. Re: Lisbon Trip - May 2013

Day Two - Sao Jorge Castle, Alfama stroll and Tile Museum. We enjoyed Sao Jorge Castle but if you're short on time, this can be skipped. The view from there was great. We followed the Rick Steve's Alfama stroll and did a short walk around the neighborhood. Caught a taxi from there to the Tile Museum. We enjoyed the Tile Museum a lot but it is out of the way. There was a bus stop near the museum but we couldn't figure out the route so we flagged down a taxi to take us back. Didn't make it to the Fado Museum in Alfama. We also didn't get to a Fado show but heard/read it's a must-do in Lisbon. Saw several restaurants (?) in the Alfama district which advertised Fado shows.

Day Three - Sintra. Since all the museums are closed on Mondays in Lisbon, we took a train out the Sintra. Well worth it. We wished we had more time there. We visited the National Palace, Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle. All were fantastic. I especially loved walking around the Moorish Castle. You'll need good legs there - lot's of walking up/down hills and stairs. We didn't get to Sintra until 11:00am and ran out of time (and energy). I would recommend getting there early. Train tickets were easy to get at Rossio station.

Day Four - We walked around Baixa-Chiado and Barrio Alto areas again. Relaxed and had more pasteis de nata, ginginha, great food and wine before packing for our very early flight the next day.

We didn't pay to go up the Santa Justa elevator but we stumbled upon the second level (?) platform while walking around Baixa. No fee there. We also missed the Gulbenkian Museum. We got there about 30 minutes to closing so we didn't go in. Instead, we went to the El Corte Engles department store nearby and shopped for groceries at the supermercado. I love the supermercado there. I thought they have a great selection of jamon, cheeses, breads, olives, wine etc. etc. We bought some great jamon, cheese, olives and bread there and had a picnic dinner in the apartment. There's a Pingo Doce market near the Rossio station that had lower prices.

Museum prices in Lisbon were very affordable. All ranged from 4 to 7 euros. Great bargain! We purchased the reloadable Via Viagem pass to use on the metros so we didn't have to buy tickets each time. It worked great.

It's a brain-dump so sorry if it's hard to follow! Let me know if you have any questions.

London, United...
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6. Re: Lisbon Trip - May 2013

Thank you for all the information, this is really useful! Would you mind sharing which Airbnb apartment you stayed in? I've never used it before and I'm anxious to find a suitable spot! Thanks!

Torrance, California
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7. Re: Lisbon Trip - May 2013

Hello Dee G,

We've used Airbnb in Germany, Spain and Portugal with great success. :-) As requested, here's the link to the apt we rented: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/100841

The owners were very nice and responded quickly to our inquiries. The apartment was super clean and had everything we needed for a comfortable stay.

London, United...
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8. Re: Lisbon Trip - May 2013

Thanks so much!

Canada
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9. Re: Lisbon Trip - May 2013

Thanks for posting your experience in Lisbon. Reading it gave me ideas of what to do and where to go.

Will have to read the Rick Steves guide book again.

"Every new day is a gift. Make the most out of it."

10. Re: Lisbon Trip - May 2013

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