Every bit as rustic and romantic as I hoped, I was smitten with Lisbon the moment I laid eyes on it so I couldn’t wait to get back to Portugal. Over our long weekend in the Portuguese capital, we whittled away the hours just wandering the cobbled, tiled covered streets and eating gloriously delicious food; essentially my dream situation. I had imagined that a weekend in Porto would be much the same but that’s probably doing Portugal’s second city a bit of a disservice.
The cobbles and tiles are similar, as is the casual vibe and comfortable pace of life, but this compact riverside city has an endearing charm of its own. We were lucky enough to have the sun shining throughout our visit, making the whole city shine and giving us the perfect weather for our own food tour, because as we discovered, the one thing these two cities definitely have in common is great food!
I used to dread people asking me when my birthday is because I knew that once I told them I would be faced with those pitying looks and sympathetic remarks assuring me it’s not that bad. You see, I have what most people deem to be an unfortunate birthday. All you late December babies out there will feel my pain, but only those of you who also have birthdays within days of Christmas will truly understand the suffering. We generally get upstaged by Jesus.
Throw in the fact that my birthday is smack bang in between Christmas and New Year and you get the idea why I don’t usually celebrate it. There’s no point organising a shindig because people are either away on holiday or too skint to come toast to me getting another year older but none the wiser. So sometimes I like to celebrate my half birthday instead because June seems like a much more civilised time of year to have a birthday and in case you’re wondering, it was yesterday. Yep, happy half-birthday to me… all belated birthday wishes and gift are welcome, particularly if they involve food or drink.
I’ve been harbouring a desire to visit Lisbon since one afternoon in 2011 when I whittled away hours in a cushy leather seat at Wellington’s Embassy Theatre watching a film called Mysteries of Lisbon. Doesn’t ring any bells? It’s an elaborate web of love affairs, illegitimate children and extravagant costumes set in 19th century Portugal, so not your usual run of the mill Hollywood blockbuster. It is also almost 5 hours long and all in Portuguese, but I’m a sucker for a convoluted love story and some pretty dresses. In all honesty, I don’t remember much about the film or if Lisbon played a starring role, but what stuck with me was this romantic notion of Lisbon as an opulent and seductive location.
This memory set the bar pretty high for Lisbon and it did not disappoint. From the first moment we ventured into the mild winter’s evening I couldn’t stop smiling at the sight of the cobbled streets filled with beautifully tiled buildings on one side contrasted with its run down counterparts on the other. These sights confirm that Portugal is no longer the wealthy empire it once was but it is still rich in culture and of course, delicious food!