Ah Portugal! It has been my wish for a long time, since I started taking part in Erasmus+ projects and exploring Europe. Because it's far, because it's exotic and there is something utmost appealing in its beautiful nature and rich culture. My Portugese adventure was mixture of both work and pleasure, as I was taking part in transnational activity within Erasmus+ as a representative of my organization. As participation was supported by Croatian Agency for mobility and EU programmes, I had a chance to take part together with 2 other Croatian participants, the people whom I've never met before although we live so close to each other (the beauty of Erasmus+ 😊) and with whom I got along really well. I'm more than thankful for this experience and for the chance to meet the amazing people with whom I spent some amazing moments.
My adventure started 2 days before the project itself, which enabled me to explore Lisbon and its surrounding together with my Croatian colleague. Oh yeah, as usual, I had issues with my flight so instead of changing flights in Brussels, I went to Barcelona 😁 But sometimes stars do align in a strange way; this off-road trip gave me the opportunity to met the amazing woman with whom I spent fun 1 hour in Barcelona city center (the taxi drive from and to the airport was longer than that, but it was worth it 😁😎).
When I finally arrived to Lisbon in the middle of the night, I had a feeling that this whole trip is going to be an adventure, just like it's beginning.
As I previously mentioned, I had a chance to spend almost 2 days in Lisbon before the project started, and I'm glad I did. I'm also glad that my Croatian colleague with whom I've been exploring Lisbon is a very organized tourist, who had an extensive plan of the places we need to visit. On the other hand, I'm a good follower when it comes to sightseeing, so we definitely made a good team.
About Lisbon itself - my impressions are too big to put them all into one post. We started our adventure in Alfama - one of the oldest districts of Lisbon - a delightful maze of narrow streets and ancient houses, which lead up the steep hill from the Tejo Estuary to the castle (find out more here). Alfama, beside the amazing views, is full of small shops where you can find traditional and artistic souvenirs, as well as historic buildings including the Se Cathedral, the Castle, the National Pantheon and Saint Anthony’s Church.
After visiting Alfama, we took a walk directly to the city centre. You can also take a famous tram number 28.
The delightful Remodelado trams date from the 1930s and in any other city they would be housed in a museum, but in Lisbon they are an integral part of the public transport network. These historic trams are still in use, as the 28 route is completely unsuitable for modern trams due to its numerous tight turns and steep gradients.
Main square in Lisbon was definitely not what I expected - after strolling arround the narrow streets of Alfama, the large open space full of sun, just on the seaside is a nice surprise. As it was amost 40 degrees outside and we already started to be tired of walking around, our next target was famous Lisbon Timeout Market - a perfect place to take the lunch, as we've heard. And indeed it was, not only the food but also the atmosphere - bright and artistic, full of people trying out various available specialties and drinking tasteful wines. I would definitely recommend it to all of you in love with good wine&dine.
After an amazing lunch, our last adventure for the day was the modern part of Lisbon, more specifically the part where World Expo '98 was held. Such an opposite to historic city centre and small narrow streets, but still an amazing part to see. It is enough to mention that some of famous sites such as Vasco da Gama Bridge, Ocenarium and Torre Vasco da Gama cable car are situated right there. It is definitely an area of Lisbon worth to see - it's an important part of its architecture and history.
After a long day of sightseeing and more than 6 hours of walking around, it was time to go back and grab some rest. Sadly, because with so many amazing things to see you wish that you can just wander around as long as you want. I was trully amazed by the Lisbon beauties - it was something I definitely did not expect. The city has this special vibe, not like most of the other capitals, and its beautiful position over the ocean gives a special scent. A perfect combination of history and the modern world - I definitely fell in love. But I have to admit, I kinda knew in advance it's going to be just like that, it had to be.
My adventure didn't finish there. Although we had only couple of hours next day before our project starts (our meeting point with the rest of Erasmus+ group was next day in the afternoon at the airport) and although we didn't have any particular plan beside shopping and coffee in the city, the situation changed fast. Why? Because I realised that one of my bucket-list places to visit is just an hour and a half away from Lisbon, in the magical Sintra. You would be amazed how many things you can visit in just couple of hours.
Wanna hear more? Read about my experience in Portugal in the next post about Sintra which will be up on Voyagerasmus!