Of all the great countries I have had the pleasure of visiting, more than once I might add, Portugal has become my “lazy holiday.” There was no set itinerary to go exploring, take tours, what museums or restaurants to hit. Nope, just get off the plane and see where my spirit takes me. Know what I mean?
I first visited Lisbon in October 2013 with one of my best friends, Paige. We decided we needed a holiday (what a vacay is referred to here in Europe) where we woke up, walked to the beach and that was it! And for her sake, there were tons of eating breaks in between. Instead of staying in Lisbon we stayed in a somewhat dingy hotel in Costa de Caparica that had a two minute walk to the beach. Literally! Even at night in our room, we could hear and feel the ocean. For five days, we woke up, ate at beachfront places like Paraíso and Praia Do Tarquinio. The menu was simple, but also included traditional Portuguese cuisine. We were in lazy heaven! We pretty much cried when we had to leave and return to rainy Berlin. (Hey, we love Berlin! )
Fast forward to April of this year. It was a late birthday trip for me and two of my friends here in Berlin, Paige and Evan, came along. I knew this was going to be a blast! Evan had never been. Instead of staying in Costa again we ended up renting an apartment on Airbnb in Lisbon. For 300 USD we had a two bedroom apartment with a balcony overlooking the city for five days. Mmhmm, that’s right! Hotels aren’t always the best way to go.
So, we arrive in Lisbon in the afternoon and are very excited by the weather. It was a bit cloudy but the sun was out and it was warm! Instead of following my normal protocol of going up to Departures to get a taxi, we just lazily went through arrivals. Big mistake. The apartment was five minutes from the airport and because it was a town car, it costs us 20 euro. The guy at the airport delegating taxis told us it would be the same. I wanted to return just to put my finger in his face and scream “LIES.” But I didn’t. The host at the apartment was nice and even bought us some food and water for the place. He recommended somewhere close to grab lunch which we did not really care for. The apartment was supposed to be near the beach, but…was not! So we knew we’d have to find our way back to the same spot we claimed in October.
The beach would have to wait though. The first two and a half days it was overcast and raining. We did not let this deter us too much. We would wake up, cook breakfast, stand out on the balcony for a bit and decide what we wanted to do for the remainder of the day. We took the metro which was quite easy to the city center and strolled. We had no idea where we were walking, but we didn’t care. We found this really cute café one afternoon called Brunch Café and had lunch. The décor was simple and pink. They had a large selection of teas and all-natural juices and smoothies. We sat there long enough to find a museum nearby that was free. The Design and Fashion Museum (MUDE) was a five minute walk from the café and gave us 45 minutes out of the rain.
Afterwards, we walked the steep and rainy streets in the city center taking random turns through the streets and avoiding crowds. All the while, we were in our own world. Laughing and pointing things out. We ended up going into a shopping mall and sitting in Starbucks (don’t judge us, free Wifi). We planned to meet up with someone we met on our last trip later that night to take us to dinner and partying. We tried to go to this one restaurant called Rubro but they were packed and found ourselves in a small tapas restaurant that was really good.
There were minor complications but we did end up in a very confusing crowd of party-goers after being turned away from the original African party because Paige and I had on Converse and oh so lovely silver flats. Now- I’m a heels girl if ever there was one, but we obviously didn’t get the memo that horrible heels were better than nice flats. Plus we only really packed for beach weather anyway. Lisbon isn’t known for its fashion, let me just say that. Partying and rain were not on the brain. We danced for a bit until we couldn’t take the crowd anymore. Saturday we woke up and decided to go to the town over called Cascais by train. Again, we had no agenda, just wanted to walk around. (Secretly, we were all hoping for a stretch of walkable beach and sun). After walking for a bit we found a patch of sand near the water to sit. I kid you not; the sun was shining down on the beach across the water. That was Costa de Caparica! We decided we were definitely going there Sunday.
Getting to Costa was quite easy. There’s a bus, 161 (it’s 2.80 euro each way), that takes you to the main street in Costa by the beach and you walk south until you see that wonderful blue. The last bus leaves Costa at 9:15 p.m. so after watching the sunset and grabbing a bite to eat, make sure you’re back in time or you’ll be stuck getting a taxi which will run you around 20 euros. It was pretty busy, as to be expected on a beautiful Sunday, so we decided to walk as far as we could. Little did we know that to get to a quiet part of the beach you’d have to walk across this long stretch of rocks. Evan and I thought it was pretty cool; Paige was not so impressed by the challenge. Evan just breezed through it. Mind you, there were young children and elderly couples passing Paige as she shakily crossed. It wasn’t difficult, just required your attention and once you crossed, there was a quiet stretch of beach away from the Sunday strollers and schools of surfers hogging the main beach.
After heading back, right before the sun was setting; we made ourselves sick from eating churros stuffed with chocolate, cherry and caramel. Good times, good times. Monday, we made our way back to the beach because we woke up to the sun knocking on the skylights in our apartment, and it was our last day. Best beach day. I’ve been to amazing beaches that required hiking, kayaking, climbing down mountains…but this was so easy. We wanted to do nothing and that’s what we did. Not every vacation requires hours of walking, spending money, exploring. We wanted to get away from Berlin and nap by the beach. That simple, and that’s what Lisbon (rather Costa de Caparica) does for us.