London to Lisbon!
Luckily Tom and I are not very superstitious. Flying on a Friday the 13th is not something some people would attempt.
I barely slept the night before. Double checking and printing all our itineraries details for the next 2 weeks and then setting my hair in braids for the night, resulted in me going to bed at 2:30 am.
I woke up at 4:45 am, to meet with Tom at the street corner from my house at 5:30 am.
We took the overground and the tube to Victoria Station. Jumped on the Gatwick Express to catch our 9:40 am flight to Lisbon, Portugal.
We were in time. After checking in our bags. We enjoyed a breakfast from Pret (a manger) while discussing the places we would like to visit out of curiosity in comparison to the “top list” countries we want to visit out of genuine attraction, interest and love. We concluded that North Korea and Dubai would likely fit in the former category.
We then stopped by WHSmith to buy some sweets and perform my “travel ritual”. Ever since our first trip together, I’ve got into this little game of buying a random book. One I like to call a cheesy book.
The rule is simple, I choose a book from an author I’ve never read from before and take a chance based on a cheap attraction to it (usually the cover do the trick) and I aim to read it through my vacation.
When we went to Scotland my cheesy book was. “Southern Lights”, by Danielle Steel. Verdict: blah! (but to the book defence and to the author -who I believe to be well appreciated by many- I grew up reading classic French literature and my heart has a penchant for period stories and so on)
This time round I got: “The Taxidermist’s daughter”, by Kate Mosse.
Verdict: I tell you at the end.
There is something fascinating about observing people going about their daily life, but it is even more fascinating to me to watch people at the airport. All these stories walking around. Each and all in transit. Heading somewhere, to someone…for someone. For work or leisure. Some for the first time perhaps.
We strolled around a little, looking at watches, cameras and the usual “luxury goods” that seems to pave the floors of airport lounges before heading to our departure gate.
Our seats were at the back of the airplane. Easyjet. I had the window seat.
Tom was very kind to let me take it when I know how much he loves the window seat. We read. We snacked. We slept and then watched the plane hover over Lisbon as we entered Portugal.
The Sun was blazing over the orange, rust and brick coloured rooftops that paved the city of Lisbon with The Cristo Rei peacefully watching with open arms over the city.
What a picturesque sight to see it from above. It then hit me that despite my longtime relationship with this country -I was born in Portugal and spent all my childhood summers in Lisbon at my grandparents house, in the suburb of the city- I realised that I had never actually seen this city from the sky.
We always made the long journey from France to Portugal by road back then. First by train in the early years of my life, then by car. My brothers and I loved it as kids but seeing Lisbon from the air was quite something for me.
Once we got through the gates it was around 1.30/ 2 pm, perhaps closing in to 3 pm.(?)
Lisbon has a fantastic rail service. You can get a 24H travel card for just under 7€ or a single for under 2€ and since we were there only for one night and few hours the following day, it was a cheap way to travel and make most of the city.
We stayed a the Lisbon City Hotel. The room was a good size, modern with a little balcony.
After dropping our bags, we went on a tour of the city.Walking through Lisbon, I felt a rush of emotion wrapping me in old memories.
“The coloured buildings with flaking paints, the way time seems to be suspended in the evening. People strolling the streets in the cool, warm night. I had forgot the town, the faces of Portuguese people, the way life is over there. And it all came back like an old song”
-transcript from my moleskine travel diary.
We stopped to buy a blue wig at a carnival shop and cakes at one of the most popular and cute pastelaria in Lisbon.
Pastel de nata is one of our favourite Portuguese pastry.
It’s quite a lovely feeling to know that you are in one place just for a short period of time. For me it puts me in a more relaxed state of mind, perhaps because I know I won’t have time to do or see everything and therefore I am able to become a wanderer; able to enjoy strolling around without any real goal others than appreciating the moment and take it in as it comes.
And so we strolled away…
One of the striking beauty of Portugal is that all the streets are pretty much traditionally-style paved. And the famous Azulejo is used a lot around the city. As we walked around we came across a little street where an old building was under reparation. The door was what caught our eyes first and how the Azulejo has managed to under time and still looked fabulous.
One of the workers came out and understood we were in admiration at the beautifully hand painted old tiles. And to our surprise, he went out of his way to offer Tom a piece of Azulejo from the interior of the building.
We wanted to take an overview of the city, and the highest point to do so is from Saō Jorge Castle which is on a hilltop overlooking the historic part of Lisbon.
We felt the entrance was cheekily over priced but, in the end, we were glad we went through with it.
We got to enjoy the first sunset of our holiday and it was really lovely.
The evening was warm and pleasant, the air by this point had taken a real scent of holiday for me. Here we were, hand in hand, walking about, going nowhere until our belly commanded us to. Feeling happy and content, busy doing nothing.
Thanks to David, the kind, the smiley and helpful receptionist at the hotel, we were recommended a great place to eat seafood. And boy oh boy was it yummy and cheap!!
We ate and drank well that night. And while the night was still young we got ourselves more wine from a nearby convenient store, some sweets and made our way back to the hotel feeling merry and cheeky.
We sat on the balcony wrapped in blankets, talked our mind away, opening ourselves up to one another. And even the bad news from Paris that had reached us earlier in the day and had been nagging at me on and off seemed like a distant whisper now.
Another adventure was beginning for us and we were throwing ourselves wholeheartedly to it. With love and passion and so was the way the night ended.