Is it too late to wish you all a happy new year? I think technically I'm allowed until the month of January ends so may 2014 bring you joy and love, keep you prosperous and in good health.
My 2014 started rather lovely with a trip to Portugal which was a belated gift for my 30th birthday from my very thoughtful boyfriend.
Let me get this question that has been nagging me out first? Why the heck are people banging on about Paris when there's such a city as Lisbon? It has to be one of the most romantic places I've ever been, it is quite difficult not to walk your nose in the air with all the buildings being so beautiful and intricate, and the atmosphere is so relax and friendly... Can you tell I fell in love already?
If I had to use two words to describe Lisbon, apart from romantic, it would be 'hills' and 'pastries', which I think is a great combination as you sure don't feel guilty stuffing your face with those famous pasteis de nata (custard pies) after you've climbed steep hills all day, errday.
On our first day (it was actually the 2nd day but as we arrived on a rainy evening, nothing much happened), we decided to check out the area where our accommodation was located, in order to get our bearings. I noticed in my guide that some glasshouses were a few minutes away, taking it as a sign of fate, I decided this would be our first port of call (after sampling our first pasteis de nata in a local pastelaria, bakery, of course!). It looked a little like this:
We then walked down the Avenida da Liberdade, which is one of the main arteries of the city of Lisbon. It looked so atmospheric through the smoke coming from dozens of street stalls roasting chestnuts. From there, we climbed up to the neighbourhood Bairro Alto. There, we stopped to admire the view from Sao Pedro de Alcantara Miradouro (one of the city's viewpoints) and smelt the heady cedar tree in the Principe Real park. It totally inspired me to try and recreate the smell with essential oils (possibly a future perfume diy for the #acleanerlife series?).
One thing I'll say that it's not an easy city for vegetarians (I can't even imagine how painful it must be for a Vegan) as fish and meat are heavily featured in the local gastronomy. For lunch, I had bookmarked a Tibetan vegetarian restaurant in my travel guide but looking at the menu, I felt underwhelmed by the plat du jour of brown rice and veg (although the rose petal ice cream was kind of calling my name).
We decided instead to walk down to the sea front, to the infamous Praça de Commeirco. We had a cheeky falafel kebab and explored the city centre.
We then went back a bit northwards to Praça da Figueira where I was keen on visiting the Doll Hospital. Super creepy but also super amazing, our guide was so very nice! As the dusk was engulfing the city, we felt it was time to start our journey back to the hotel so we walked up the hill, passing through the saddest 'West-End', empty theatres and restaurants, even the neon signs were turned off, there was literally not a soul about (probably because it was winter time) and went grocery shopping for dinner. We found ketchup crisps, which is my favourite ever flavour, so all in all I'd say the day was a tremendous success!