Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lisbon, Portugal: loving it!

HT couple loves to explore food whenever they're in a different country.  The way we prepare our itinerary is a few pages of things to see...and then pages which you can compile as a book on where to eat.

And we just love being tourists.  We go to places where all the tourists flock.  Some are tourist trap but some are worth to queue up for.

Join us in exploring Lisbon the HT couple way.

We arrived in the late afternoon.  We walked around to familiarize ourselves with the area and be like locals in the next days.

Avenue de Liberdadetheir Champs-Élysées but cleaner.  Love the gothic prints on the street.

just like anywhere in Europe, the architecture of the buildings in Lisbon are lovely.  Check out the picture at the top right, you can have your shoes polished on the street.  It reminds me of Manila 20 years ago.

We stumbled in Elevador de Santa JustaIf you think this is not worth the trip, think again...

the view from the top...Castelo de Sao Jorge can be seen from afar.

There are a few elevators around Lisbon that helps you as a tourist to go around...I think the locals are used to the hills so you don't see them in this type of transportation. Santa Justa connects you from lower Baixa to the other higher side.  And believe me, it's saving you a hike (as Lisboa, is very hilly)

As soon as we reach the other side, we went to this infamous cafe (for tourist) and got ourselves cups of bica (espresso) and hydrated our bodies with their pilsner.  We said hi to the statue of Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet, who frequented this cafe when he was writing(wikipedia). 

 We continued walking up and down again..whew!

Until, it was time for dinner. Yehey!

the first stop was at Bonjardim (Santa Antao 11).  The place is known for its Frango de Assado (roasted chicken) with chili oil on the side.

The spiciness is not for the faint-hearted.  So watch out when you brush that oil onto your white meat.  The chicken was a bit salty...the hot sauce complemented well with it.

When it's our first dinner in a place for the first time,  we tend to order as much local items as we can.  Pasteis de Bacalhau is cod fish croquette.  It's fishy for HT hubbie but my friend, my travel and foodie partner and I loved it!  Each piece was packed with fish flakes and it was very tasty.  My friend wanted something hot while waiting for the chicken, so she decided to order Canja.  Surprise!  Aside from chicken meat and soup, numerous gizzard pieces (internal organ) were floating.

  We got an order each that's here on my plate for sharing.  Each order was pretty huge and is good for 2-3 persons. 

Esparregado - creamed spinach which has a very prominent eggy taste.  I didn't like it very much as the taste was a bit tiring.  Nevertheless, we ate it just like locals as this veggie dish is typically a good accompaniment to any meats including our frango.

Arroz ala Brasseira (rice) was the favorite of everyone, even though we all knew that all types of internal organ pieces were cooked together with this rice.  It was inexplicably delicious!  You can eat it alone as your main dish.

It was cheap, no frills restaurant in a small street.  All the dishes we ordered (the chicken was 1 1/2 pcs) including couverts(bread, cheese and, butter) and a bottle of wine - was only 36 euros.  We were happy campers when we strolled out of the restaurant.

*Couverts would be placed on your table in any restaurants in Lisbon and if you touch it, you pay for it, but if ignored, you don't see them on your bill.  (fair enough)

What was nice with this restaurant was that even if we touched the couverts, we were not charged for it since we didn't have salad and fries (which are part of our chicken dish). We got our big bottle of water and croquettes as well for free.  (DISCLAIMER: this might not be a norm, we might have just been lucky :D).

With heavy stomachs, up we go to our next stop.

Gloria Elevador  is the easiest way to send us to our next destination.

But we decided to be environmental friendly.

We were entertained with all the arts on the wall while hiking up.  My friend(middle)  and I taking a break before we continue our journey.

Ta-dah!  We were in heaven...of wines!

Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto - was our must-go place.  We were given a menu explaining different types of port, which was pretty interesting.  Tawny, a blend of wines from several harvest is my favorite.  You can get Colheita, Reserva, Ruby and it's up to you what you fancy most.  What i like about this place is that bottles that cost 40 euros or more are also in the menu which you can get in a glass between 5-6 euros.  Not bad if you wanted to taste a bottle that is not part of your budget.  The place was cozy that we had a great night of comparing the ports based on their years and types (just like true connoisseurs...haha)

We started reminiscing our younger years as well.

After a few glasses, we decided to hit the bed with smiles on our faces.  It was a wonderful 1st day.  

I fell in love immediately with Lisbon.

Hotel Fenix Garden - 50 euros a night was worth it (off-peak).  Breakfast was 3.90 euros (with good choices and nespresso)
Take aerobus from the airport for 3.50 euros.  You can use the card for 24 hours in buses, trams, elevators
Buy Viva viagem/7 colinas (a reoload card) for 0.50 euros to go around.  Load it with 5 euros and enjoy ride-all-you-can for 24 hours.

2nd part of our lovely up next weekend...stay tune!