Who can refuse the opportunity to visit a friend on their year abroad? Bogged down in the Winter blues, my friends and I jetted off to the Iberian Peninsula to pay my friend, studying languages at Nottingham University, a visit.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a festive fiend at heart, but the darker mornings and shorter days had me desperate to escape to a different environment in Europe. With return flights from Manchester at just £39 with Ryanair, this was a bargain trip we could not pass on. Although we only had two full days in lovely Lisbon, we ensured we made the most of our time out there.
If you’re mad about the brunch scene, Lisbon is the place to be. It has a surplus of cafes and restaurants tucked into every nook and cranny of the historic city. Our tour guide (my friend studying there) had comprised a condensed list of the best places – so took us to Café Amélia. Neon lights, botanical theme, banging menu – it echoed that Made in Chelsea vibe (ironically the theme tune was even playing as we walked in!). In true brunch style, it was smoothies all round for us girls, accompanied with a hummus, avocado and egg toast for me. So Insta -worthy!
Lisbon is also host to a capacious continental market – serving up fresh fish, meats, pastries, wines – just about anything you could dream of. The building is beautiful and worth a nosey, even if one of Lisbon’s famous Pasteis de Nata (a better version of a custard tart) can’t entice you.
Whether you’re going for a more cultural trip, or following our food tour, Lisbon caters to all tastes. Mosaics line the houses of the streets and the white, cobbled streets emanate that traditional continental feel. Lisbon does however come with a warning for the unfit – everything is uphill. We dedicated our whole Saturday to eating, drinking and eating some more, so when our last stop was a rooftop bar at the top of Lisbon, we were puffing and panting a little more than we’d like to admit.
Don’t let that put you off, though. The bar, Park, situated on top of a car park, offered panoramic views of the city like no other. We got there just as the sun was setting below the 25 de Abril Bridge. The city’s dark sky was transformed into a beautiful canvas, illuminated by the yellow lights of all the buildings. Generally speaking, it was always worth the uphill trauma for the impressive views.
With cities like Brugge in Belgium competing for the best Christmas markets, Lisbon is rarely talked about in terms of its festive feel. Yet Christmas trees line the streets and the main square, Praça do Comércio, is host to a huge green and red illuminated tree! We also stumbled across many Christmas shops. One sold delicate glass baubles and decorations, which my friends had to drag me out of for fear that I’d never leave.
The best part of the trip? Being back with my friends from home – yet away from England’s drab weather! ‘Tis the season of reuniting and mulled wine, after all.