Three days in Lisbon
After spending Saturday at sea, we disembarked our cruise in Lisbon on Sunday, and spent three days visiting that charming city.
Days at sea are a great opportunity to enjoy all the things a cruise ship offers. But my wife had to work, so we stayed in the suite except for the mandatory Covid19 test. What we did enjoy was dinner at the last restaurant we had not tried yet: Silver Note. What a surprise! The food was delicious, creative, and beautifully presented, accompanied by a nice live guitar performance.
The say day of disembarkation came. As flawless and quick as the day of embarkation, in a matter of minutes we were out the ship and into a taxi that took us to our next destination: Hotel Valverde Lisboa. Part of one of our favorite hotel groups, the Relais & Chateaux, and obviously also in the Virtuoso Preferred Hotel program, they were kind enough to extend an invitation for us to stay in their precious little gem of a hotel.
Extremely conveniently located in the middle of Avenida da Liberdade, the townhouse hotel’s decor could be described as unique and discreetly elegant. The eclectic collection of decorative and art pieces strike you as an odd ensemble at first, only to realize soon after that everything works very well together. We liked it so much that we met and congratulated its interior designer (Oporto-based José Pedro Lopes Vieira).
As my wife had never been in Lisbon, and I know the city fairly well, the first thing we did was to walk up Avenida da Liberdade until we reached Marquês de Pombal and down through Praça dos Restauradores until we reached Praça do Comércio, marveling at the little palaces, cobble stone streets, old trams, the Elevador de Santa Justa, the amazing Comur store O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinia Portuguesa, beautiful old cafes like Nicola, and many pastelarias with their famous Pastéis de Nata (Pastéis de Belém egg-cream tarts) and other sweets like tartelete de amêndoa, bolas, queijadas from Sintra, aletria, baba de camelo, natas do céu…
After a snack at the Antiga Bacalhoeira de Baixa, consisting of pastel de bacalhau recheado (with queijo de ovelha amanteigado da Serra) and pastel de natas, we regained the energy to visit the Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa) and the whole charming Alfama neighborhood, by the Museu do Aljube Resistência e Liberdade, all the way up to Miradouro das Portas do Sol and Miradouro de Santa Luzia.
The plan was to dine at one of the restaurants I had shortlisted, but one after the other failed: some closed for no apparent reason, some closed for the day, some not open yet… so we ended up walking down to Rua dos Bacalhoeiros to Restaurante Solar dos Bicos, which was nice and where we had mexilhões à bulhão pato and bacalhau a la marinera, of course!
On Monday we spent almost the whole day at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian which, besides being an active cultural center and concert hall, hosts a fascinating collection of art and artifacts from different time periods and locations: Egyptian, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch Masters, rare books, period furniture, silverware, jewels (a particularly good collection of René-Jules Lalique’s creations)… as an added bonus, we got to enjoy an Hergé temporary exhibition. Absolutely worthwhile!
After the museum my wife had to work a bit in the room, so we stopped at a bakery and got some ovos moles, travesseiros and queijada de Sintra, and rissóis de camarão, which I had with a mocktail from the hotel’s bar served with an edible (and lemony tasty) straw.
To end the day on a magnificent note, we had dinner at Michelin Guide listed restaurant and Fado place Casa de Linhares in Beco dos Armazéns do Linho in Alfama. We had caldo verde, croquetes de Alheira, and arroz de marisco com lagosta. All delicious, but the special part was the 4 sets of fado that we enjoyed by performers Jorge Fernando, Fábia Rebordão, Vânia Duarte, André Baptista, and Silvana Peres. Some of them have performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall and many times on TV (in programs like Operação triunfo). The young Portuguese guitar player André Dias was also extremely talented.
In our last day in Lisbon we visited the Belém Tower, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, and upon my wife’s insistence, the Museu de Marinha (Navy Museum). I’m so glad she “made me” see it! It’s absolutely educational and interesting. Too bad we didn’t have time to see inside the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos or the Museu Coleção Berardo. Definitely next time.
Before going back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and head to the airport, we stopped at Praça Dom Pedro IV to eat sande de leitão with queijo de ovelha amanteigado da Serra that we like so much that we bought a few, and paid the obligatory visit to Fábrica da Nata, which has arguably the best pastéis de nata, to bring some home.
Lisbon is adorable and enjoyable. We’ll definitely be back soon.
Some photos here.