Away with Bae Part 2 - Vinho Por Favor?
I was most excited for our sojourn in Lisboa. Everybody who has been loves it and quite frankly it's famous for all the things I enjoy in life – wine, food and beautiful shopping. Of course you can paint a picture in your own mind about how fabulous it's going to be, but not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined it to become the most special place in the world to me.
Firstly, we went in winter and were met by 18 degrees and sun every day. To me that is the most glorious of weathers, it made it super pleasant to walk and walk and walk, it is a very hilly place, think Sydney and San Francisco with a little more oomph. The walking itself is one of the sweetest bits, Lisboa is beautiful, there is no doubt about that, but when I say beautiful, I mean like even the sidewalks are beautiful. Lisboa is famous for their ceramic tiles that cover building and pavements, and well really anything they feel like, and it's glorious.
So the weather and the walking were a great first start, but i'll skip all the nitty gritty and give you some highlights.
New Year's Eve. Lisbon is quite famous for being a great spot to ring in the new year, The Praça do Comércio is the place to be, their famous town square that turns into a festival of sorts with heaps of music and a shiz load of amazing fireworks. I was a bit sad on New Year's Eve day because I had done such a good job of booking in great restaurants, but just wasn't sold on any for NYE. After wandering around Belem a very pretty part of Lisboa, I suggested to the B&C that we go back to a wine bar we had visited quite early on in the trip to have some lunch and see what we could come up with, the place is called Dr Wine, so it was kind of appropriate.
After chatting to the lovely lady that ran the bar, she squeezed us into a dinner booking and before long we'd drunk quite a solid amount of red wine and port, and were back again at dinner time, buzzed and ready for a good night. After dinner, we sauntered down to The Praça do Comércio and joined in on some truly bizarre dancing to Portugese bands that gave you a sense of what it would be like to be at Eurovision and when the clock struck midnight a damn fine fireworks display ignited the sky.
I gave the B&C a happy new year smooch and before I could ask "another super bloc?" he was asking me to marry him. It was a literal ringing in of the new year. I had to ask a couple of times if he was serious, before I of course said yes, the best bit was everyone was so wrapped up in the NYE love that we really shared this special moment together despite the thousands of people surrounding us. So to put it mildly, my NYE was pretty farking great, in fact I probably won't bother with anymore because, I mean, how disappointing are they going to be in comparison?
The second thing I will revel about Lisboa is the insanely good food, wine and port and how ridiculously cheap it is despite being in euro and our dollar being not so good. There are a tonne of cheap eats in Lisboa, none more so than the Time Out Markets. The Time Out Markets are the baby of the ex-Time Out editor in Lisbon, who decided the city could do with a market that collaborates the cities best restaurants and lets people have a crack at a lot of them in the absence of time in getting to the actual restaurants themselves – bloody take note all other cities. This place is fabulous. Obviously you can expect for the food to be great but the atmosphere is even better, so much fun and so cool.
Then there are the bonafide legend eats – the Michelin star owning ones, that really freaking blow your mind. I've got one word for you – Alma. What I came to realise in Lisboa is that my Capricornian tendencies to be on time or a little early, are sorely underappreciated in Lisboa and you're pretty much told as much. Not at Alma, but at another restaurant, I knocked on the door at 725 for our 730 booking and when someone popped their head out, I just said we were there for dinner and that we were a little early for 730, and I got told "exactly" with a shut of the door. Classic and to be fair not even rude, just fact.
So I tried to chill the dickens out and get to Alma on time, but on time is still too early, so the lovely chef suggested I take a squiz at the arts and ceramics store a few doors down. I digress from Alma itself for a minute because this store (Avida Portugesea) is seriously one of my highlights of the trip. I had been told I'd be nuts to not bring back a few special ceramics from Lisboa because it's so cheap and beautiful. I'd trawled a few shops but nothing really spoke to me, until I entered this store and legitimately nearly hyperventilated at how many things I wanted (at this point needed). Sensing my excitement the lovely storeman came over to chat to me and I asked him how much it would cost to ship things back to Australia. He laughed and told me to pick a few things and make it work in my bag because Australia is so far and it would cost a lot.
We then asked about each other's star signs and things we liked and became fast friends. He helped me pick two heaven pieces, I haven't even unwrapped them because I want them to only make an entrance when we move and have special people over for eats. I thanked him profusely and laughed at him saying he couldn't come to Australia cause he loves the ciggies and would be too long between darts on the flight, so European.
Anywho, back to Alma. I'd done some study of this before going because there are a few different set menu options and then there is an ala carte as well, some might say too much choice but I say, I loved the choice of being able to go all out or just pick two of my fave sounding things off the menu, we did the latter. Being a Michelin star restaurant, one of the benefits of ordering a set menu are all the little clever snackies they bring out as part of the experience, having gone ala carte I thought we may have ditched our chances at some of the theatrics of the meal, but we were not penalised for doing this. I was so bloody impressed by this, because half the fun is those little snackies and textural mind effs that often occur and I was just so chuffed we still got that.
For those of you who don't know, Lisboa is obsessed with cod, that's putting mildly, and although a very small blip on the radar, I do not like that shiz and was quite frankly ready for some land food after so much seafood. Our waitress was a bit sad at us for not trying their cod, but seriously, enough.
The B&C and I ordered a main and a dessert, controversial for me as I am more of a savoury person, but the desserts were not all death by chocolate or sugar, well the B&C's was much to his delight, but they looked ace. The meal was phenom, so generous in portion and so lovely in thought too. Our sommelier was a legend too, a real people pleaser and took so much time to chat to me about things I liked back in Australia and things he liked in Portugal and combining our loves, he became my wine boyfriend that holiday and I so enjoyed his delicious choices. If you're headed to Lisboa, it's an absolute must, not doubt about that.
As you can tell, my love for Lisboa knows no bounds. Everything about it speaks to me, the people, the food, the wine, the culture and it's beauty. I was legitimately so sad to leave I cried. Even last night as I crawled into bed after a late night at work, I whispered to the B&C "I miss our holiday" and then duly kept myself awake too long by googling Lisboa honeymoons… I'll be back, Lisboa!!