Sometimes I travel and not just to run races but to explore and to experience new cultures. I recently travelled to Lisbon, Portugal with friends for a much needed break. Even though it was a short trip, we still managed to take in quite a few of the sights. A few quick facts about Lisbon:
• Lisbon is the capital and the largest city in Portugal and one of the oldest cities in Europe.
• Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon and the only to survive the earthquake of 1775 which destroyed most of the city.
• Lisbon is nicknamed “The City of Seven Hills”; the city streets often traverse steep inclines and many are paved with cobblestones.
• Many in Lisbon speak both English and Portugese, tourists who don’t speak Portugese should be able to get by.
Because we were only in Lisbon for six days, we tried to see as much as we could. To get around, we walked a lot and made good use of the public transit system. The buses and Metro cost €1.40/ride or €6.00 for an unlimited day pass. The Metro system consisted of several different lines but was fairly easy to navigate.
The hills and cobblestoned roads proved challenging at times but I found the best approach was to go slowly, watch for dips, slippery spots and uneven pavement. I used a pair of running shoes which I found ideal for the hills as well as walking around for several hours.
My favourite part of Lisbon was the architecture. I found the designs and the buildings to be unlike anything in North America.
Below are a few of my favourite pictures from around the city.
Where do I start when it comes to food? I think the pictures say it better than any description I could give.
No trip to Lisbon is complete until you’ve eaten several pastel de nata – egg tarts. My favourite places for these delicious treats were Pastéis de Belém and Manteigaria. The line up at Pastéis de Belém stretched out the doors and onto the street. It looked long and intimidating! But we got in line anyway and were surprised by how quickly it moved. We were eating egg tarts in less than 10 minutes!
Bifana sandwiches can also be found alongside pastel de nata at many local establishments. They are delicious on their own but I enjoyed mine with a splash of peri-peri sauce. Note: you can also purchase bifana sandwiches from McDonald’s restaurants in Lisbon. But I’ll save you the trouble, the McDonald’s version isn’t anywhere close to the original.
Don’t forget to try a few seafood dishes while in Lisbon!
And because I love carbs and all things sweet, I had to sample a few goodies when I stopped by a bakery.
Running and fitness:
With all the walking we did, especially with the hills and the stairs, I’d never need to go to a gym again if I lived in Lisbon! That said, running is a part of my weekly routine and I don’t like missing one even if I’m on vacation. Plus, I think running is a great way to see to see any city. I found the routes closest to the Tagus River were relatively spacious and flat. You avoid the hills and the wide open sidewalks made it easy to maneuver around pedestrians and tourists.
For those who like running in a group, I recommend checking out the Nike store in Chiado. While I wasn’t able to participate, I felt it would have been a great way to meet local runners.
But that’s not all we saw while we were in Lisbon – coming up, our day trips to Sintra and Cascais! Click here for the second half of my Lisbon trip report.