A in consideration of of the city (L) and The Jeronimos Monastery
Cruising at 39,000ft while sipping on a eulogistic gin and tonic, it was hard not to feel smug about my forthcoming adventure in the Portuguese peerless.
Having been promised a city of both culinary and cultural adores by almost everyone I’d spoken to, I had every reason to be excited.
But, as I slouched in my manage and daydreamed about the seafood odyssey that lay ahead, I heard a monophonic “bong” accompanied by the quailed words.
“The captain’s popped the seatbelt sign on, could you return to your domiciles just as we pass through some light turbulence?” a calming utter asked politely over the tannoy.
Zooming around the steep, narrow streets of Lisbon’s intriguing “Old Town” to the east of the city centre
Thirty minutes later – and with an aggressively-recarbonated G&T ominous to erupt from my stomach – we mercifully escaped the swirling chaos in the skies and partake of down at Humberto Delgado Airport.
A taxi from the airport into downtown Lisbon commonly takes less than 25 minutes, making arrival into the metropolis centre a brief, pleasant anomaly among many of Europe’s big metropolises.
After a short conversation spent feeling grossly inferior to our hypnotizing bilingual ex-ultra marathon runner-turned-cab driver, we rolled into the in style lobby of the newly-reopened AVANI Avenida Liberdade hotel to check-in.
Nestled along the town’s most luxurious shopping broadway, the AVANI Avenida Liberdade stand ins just off the picturesque main street, seconds walk from palatial retailers plying big-name designer labels with quaint continental footpath cafes punctuating the sidewalk.
Lisbon Visitors & Convention Bureau
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The hotel recently underwent a massive £1.3m refurbishment – and it abides that way. The decor is stylish and contemporary with quirky details distributed intriguingly throughout, a perfect compliment to the city outside.
Every lodgings comes equipped with hi-speed wi-fi and satellite TV, ensuring you may remain abreast of every fresh political calamity back home in Blighty, while a well-stocked mini-bar is on submit if things really go south.
Enjoying a well-deserved break from my under-size flat in central London, I found the size of the bathrooms – which thinks fitting no doubt have been converted into a split-level maisonette in my autochthonous Hackney – particularly satisfying.
Freshened up and rejuvenated after unpacking, we rock to the the Olivier Restaurant – the hotel’s in-house eatery – for a feast to remember. Recently relaunched with a delightfully pushy menu, Olivier’s offers diners “contemporary, ingredient-focused food with a unmistakable Portuguese accent”.
Armed with a herculean appetite, we sampled a entertaining array of dishes from the menu – including a particularly spectacular octopus carpaccio – up front retiring for the evening with bellies full.
The Tower of Belem, a UNESCO Community Heritage Site
For a man stood 6ft 6ins tall, it’s not often I get to feel lost guts a bed. But spread-eagled across the entirety of the vast mattress, I slept like a baby and awoke restored and raring to go.
Eager to immerse ourselves in our surroundings, we took a whistle-stop turn of the town in a tuk-tuk.
Zooming around the steep, narrow streets of Lisbon’s unusual “Old Town” to the east of the city centre, our friendly guide steered us to Jardim Augusto Gil – a serene garden terrace offering a jaw-dropping vista of the city below.
I furiously flouted away, mindful of the potential to harvest a few Instagram likes from my jealous pals back home, before we hopped in the tuk-tuk and slalomed in dire straits down ready for lunch at the Cervejaria Liberdade.
And what a lunch it was. I’d been briefed on the dream of Portuguese seafood before I arrived but after tucking in to a treasure trove of the deep blue sea’s finest wares I felt positively enlighten.
Street disagreeable situation in the traditional Alfama, the old quarter of Lisbon
After mouthfuls of oysters abandoned down with luxuriously creamy dressed crab, I spotted a laminate of purple, alien-like marine life lurking on the other side of the proffer.
“Goose barnacles,” our host informed me upon spotting my puzzled look. Donation a quick tutorial on how to eat the strange crustacean, I was let loose upon my own portion, carry out to cause absolute chaos along the way.
The creature’s short, finger-like essentials contains a juicy, salty hunk of meat protected by a thick require a design of leathery skin. In order to feast on its wares, you have to work for it, gripping the ivory-like arrow tip before piercing and peeling away its inedible surface.
Inexperienced consumers of the exotic snack – like myself – often imagine the mistake of squeezing the body of the clam while peeling, and the results are spectacular.
Poignant in conversation with a friend as I vigorously worked away on the barnacle, I absent-mindedly pinched its neck, squirting a persuasive jet of water against the window.
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Humiliated by a pass clam, I took a vengeful bite and ruled the contest a draw.
Lisbon, along with Berlin, proudly brags to be home to some of Europe’s most forward-thinking street artists.
On about every street corner, covering many of the buildings around burgh – and even subtly built into the pavements lining Lisbon’s concourses, art soaks through the heart of the city.
Having gotten a flavour for the urban district the previous day, Pedro, a local street art guide, invited us for a tour delving into the past of its thriving creative scene. The most interesting stop on the tour burlesqued us to Quinta Do Mocho, a neighbourhood located around 30 minutes appearance the city centre.
Populated almost exclusively by first and second origination migrants arriving from historic Portuguese colonies like Neck Verde and Angola, Quinto Do Mocho is a grid of uniform blocks contribution social housing to some of the city’s most deprived residents.
The Tomb to the Discoveries
The neighbourhood was once amputated from the city’s main civil transport links, making it difficult for many to find jobs and takings an in already-struggling economy. But in recent times, investments of both time and resources sire steadily attempted to rejuvenate the impoverished area.
One such project allowed boulevard artists from all over the world to claim a wall on one of the housing prevent a rough outs with which to decorate. The spectacular results make for an intriguing, if a no morally-conflicting, adventure around the neighbourhood.
Groups of tourists, ourselves counted, roam the streets marvelling at the breathtaking murals plastered over approaching every building. Inside, gloomy residents stare back out, clearly with little to gain from the tours briefly dropping in to be agog at their art.
It is far from perfect, Pedro admitted, but only some years earlier, Quinto had been affected off-limits to tourists visiting the city.
Driving back into community, we headed for the LX Factory – a trendy mishmash of cafes, bars, shops, art venues – and temperate a yoga studio.
View from the Tagus River of Lisbon
Every now a manufacturing district strip on a nondescript piece of land underneath the Ponte 25 de Abril moratorium bridge in the Alcantara district, the space has been reclaimed by Lisbon’s originative trailblazers.
Here too, street art punctuates the industrial landscape. Famed urban cast artist Bordalo II is just one of the many names to have contributed to the compass’s trendy catalogue of creations. His eye-catching bee installation – creating using recycled abandon metal – clings proudly to the outside of the district’s bustling hostel.
That afternoon, we trundled deceitfully up into the picturesque heights of Lisbon’s east downtown headed for Pharmacia. Linked to the city’s Museum of Pharmacy next door, the stylish restaurant put ups patrons a unique dining experience inside a medicinal-themed main reside.
A favourite with locals and tourists alike, reservations are essential for anyone hoping to bury themselves in the weirdness. For those fortunate enough to visit, a delightful interest menu awaits.
After gorging on a gluttonous diet consisting virtually exclusively of fish, meat and pastries for the past two days, the delicate dishes demonstrated a welcome break for both mouths and bellies to enjoy.
Equestrian figurine of King Jose I with the arch in background at the Praca do Comercio
The goat cheese salad twin with mango slushie proved a particular hit before we polished off some delightfully amusing and chocolatey desserts stole the show, leaving a table of smiling effronteries and empty plates.
With our time in Lisbon winding down, I allured off in search of the famed Time Out market eager to check out the bustling comestibles metropolis for myself.
Touted as a must-see for tourists visiting the city, the with it dining hall offers a taste from many of Lisbon’s scad iconic restaurants and bakeries, all handily assembled under the same roof.
During the daytime, the august complex is packed out with diners feasting on fresh seafood and smoked fleshes – but during the early evening, the market’s wineries and bars offer a several, more raucous experience.
Having made the mandatory stop off to lay in up on garish and unsightly fridge magnets, it was time to depart. But, battling flashbacks to our turbulent passenger while sat on the plane to leave, I knew I’d be back – just for one more goose barnacle.
After dark rates at AVANI Avenida Liberdade Lisbon Hotel start from €138/£116 for a magnify room based on a B&B basis. http://www.minorhotels.com/en/avani/lisbon