What's Not to Like in Lisbon?

Thursday, January 9, 2014 | Lisbon, Portugal (map)

♥ Lisboa: The city government has embraced Lisbon's ubiquitous street art, establishing a division to manage and promote it.
After several months of research and debate back in the fall, my mom, sister Maggie, and I spent Christmas week together in Lisbon, a city I had visited before (back in 2009, when living in nearby Morocco), but that I was happy to explore further.

Flight delays on their end gave me time to rediscover Lisbon on my own, starting with our home base for the week, a lovely two-story apartment with views over a good part of downtown and the Alfama district, with its picturesque Moorish castle.

The plentiful graffiti and iconic trolleys that give Lisbon its charm were still all around. On my first night, I also came across a boisterous Christmas market in a downtown square, where I loaded up on grilled choriço sausages, local codfish dishes, and hot mulled wine (fortified with the syrupy local cherry liqueur ginja). Back at the market on my second night as well, I met a young Canadian who
was also waiting for his family to arrive. We spent the evening together exploring the bars of the trendy Bairro Alto district. These included the smallest bar I have ever seen—really just a large closet—whose owners managed to squeeze in a few Brazilian musicians, their groupies, a bartender, and us two. It made for a very intimate little samba concert.

Once Maggie and my mother arrived, we passed a few days wandering the streets of Lisbon's historic quarters, visiting the castle and other sites, shopping, and eating. The Berardo collection at the Centro Cultural de Belém was a highlight, as was discovering the custard pies known as pasteis de nata. On Christmas day, with Lisbon mostly closed, we stayed home and made seafood paella and mulled wine ourselves.

Even in winter, Lisbon remains a colorful and pleasantly gritty destination, uma cidade muito bonita, and one I would visit again without hesitation.

Enjoy some Rolleicord photos of Lisbon below:

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