I have heard many good things about Portugal, so I was fortunate to have a business trip there earlier this year. I didn’t have much time to explore, and I never left Lisbon, but I’m glad I finally got to knock this city off my list of places to visit. I flew US Airways Business Class to Madrid, then Iberia economy to Lisbon.
Dusk over the Tajo River in Lisbon
The hotel where I stayed and had my meetings was near the city center, and Lisbon isn’t that large, so fortunately with limited time to explore, getting around was pretty easy.
Fountain in Belém
Jeróminos Monastery in Belém
A few of us took a taxi to Belém; the main destination was Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém to buy some freshly made Pastéis de nata. These are the famous egg tarts which were first created at the Jeróminos Monastery. As the story goes, in approximately 1700s, there were countless egg whites being used for starching clothes, particularly nun’s habits. That left a lot of extra egg yolks, so sweet pastry recipes became popular. As Portugese influence spread around the world, so did these egg tarts. They are common in Macau and Hong Kong, and I even remember enjoying them when flying on Cathay Pacific First Class. Lines at this shop are common, especially on a nice weekend day, where there are both tourists and locals getting their sugar fix.
After we got through the line, maybe 20 minutes or so, we walked across the street to a park to enjoy the lovely late afternoon weather and our sweets. Egg tarts are available all over Lisbon, but I highly recommend the fresh version from this famous shop.
Beyond sweet treats, another common sight in Lisbon is countless buildings with a tiled facade.
One example of the countless tiled buildings in Lisbon
There is also a lot of public art. Some may call it graffiti, but to my (untrained) eye, it is much more than that. Rather than condemn unused buildings, they often become a canvas for art. I found it rather stunning.
Public art in Lisbon
Once the bulk of meetings were finished there was finally a little more time to venture further and see more of the city. A local recommended we take a tram which was a good way to see the city and get to some scenic spots.
Tram 28 had a lot of tourists, but was a great way to get around and to the historic area
We hopped on and off the tram and walked as we went, but this made for a nice leisurely tour.
Panoramic view from one of the hills
Lisbon, palm trees, old buildings, the Tajo river
We had a few stops on the way, but our ultimate destination was St. Georges castle.
Rua Augusta Arch
The castle is atop another hill. Oddly, there is a urinal along the path towards the entrance. What is this, Lufthansa First Class?
We made it to the castle with just a little bit of daylight left. Some great views from here overlooking the city.
Portugal flag stop a tower at St. Georges castle, Lisbon
Lisbon is a lovely city. I’m glad to have been able to visit, even though my time there as a tourist was very limited. I’m glad I did have a little time to venture out and see some of the highlights of the city. I’d like to return to Portugal and explore beyond the capital. Have you been to Lisbon? What are some of your favorite spots?