Whilst I was planning my trip to Lisbon, I spoke to quite a few friends who had been, people who lived there and read many blog posts about this beautiful destination. After all these descriptions, I had a vision in my head of what I expected Lisbon to be like. Not long before my travels I had written about how Cornwall inspired and surprised me, you can read a million reviews and hear plenty of stories about the same place but until you have visited for yourself you never truly have the full picture. Therefore, I went to Lisbon with an open mind, ready to discover the opulent Portuguese city. However, where were a few things that surprised me about Lisbon that I would have never known without visiting for myself.
1. Lisbon is a very green city
When you live in a city like London that is surrounded by tall skyscrapers and a thick black smog that surrounds the concrete jungle, you automatically assume each capital has a similar situation. Except, it is the complete opposite situation in Lisbon. The air is fresh and the streets are filled with greenery, the sort that makes you want to skip down the street in delight. There are also many palm trees situated around the city, which gives it this lovely Los Angeles/tropical vibe.
2. Tuk Tuk’s are a popular mode of transport
I had not travelled on a Tuk Tuk since I went to India around 10 years ago. When I first touched down in Lisbon and saw a few roaming around, I thought there would be the odd one or two. The more I explored Lisbon, the more apparent it became that it was a really popular mode of transport. When we were dining at one of the restaurants, we asked our waiter about the Tuk Tuk’s and he responded with “They have only been around for the past two years, but they are popular because they are environmentally friendly”.
3. It’s quite a random city
Lisbon is also a super random city. When you are walking around, you will find the most quirky statues and figures around. I found so many little waterfalls and pools in the middle of footpaths or naked lady statues sitting in man-made lakes in Parque das Nacoes. Some of them definitely made me laugh, but I guess it adds more character to this wonderful capital.
4. Street art is very popular
I think the street art was my favourite surprise about Lisbon. The talent that exists is like no other, and people are open to interpretation and expression in the city. I didn’t actually ever spot anything offensive, just really talented pieces of art. I was in complete awe of one piece of graffiti art that was a lady with her hands clasped together and her head titled down with a tear streaming down her face. Next to the lady there was stencilled graffiti that read “Pray for Portugal” and it definitely hit a nerve.
5. The city is filled with monasteries
Seeing many monasteries around the city was a lovely touch especially as I did not associate with Lisbon as a religious city. Most of them were welcoming to everyone to come inside and boasted some of the most glorious and pretty interiors. My favourite monastery was ‘Igreja de São Domingos’, where we popped into the Roman Catholic monastery on a Sunday whilst mass was taking place. I honestly stood there for 20 minutes just watching the ceremony take place and it was rather moving too. We even said a prayer and lit a candle, after all you never know what faith can do regardless of the religion. Definitely a unique experience that I will never forget.
What has surprised you about Lisbon?
Until next time…