To be honest, Lisbon had never been on my bucket list. It never crossed my mind to visit this capital city of Portugal before. I mean, I don’t have any special memory or obsession with the city (unlike what I have with Milan, Venice or Amsterdam 😄 ). So when Zaki told me that he’s going to present his research finding in a conference in Portugal, and he wanted me to come with him, I didn’t have specific expectation. I didn’t even make a detailed itinerary like usual. My plans were just to enjoy the summer sun, relax and maybe explore a little bit.
The journey wasn’t started really well. There was a train disruption in some areas in Skåne so it was difficult to get to the Copenhagen airport. Luckily our landlord drove us to the closest station from the airport (Malmö Hyllie Station).
We waited for the train in anxiety and finally able to get on board and arrived in the airport promptly. But the drama wasn’t ended there. We flew with TAP Portugal and we didn’t know that the checked baggage mustn’t exceed 23kg for each passenger. This means, even though we only brought two luggages for three persons, and the total weight was only 60kgs (the allowance is actually 69kg in total), the check in counter officer asked us to distribute the weight to three luggages or pay the extra. We argued at first, because according to the information in TAP Portugal website, the maximum weight for each baggage is 32kg so we didn’t violate any rule. But they said that it was the maximum weight for business class passenger. In short, we didn’t have any option other than repacked our luggage and threw out some less important items. We managed to reduce the weights to 25kgs and 27kgs for the two luggages but they’re still overweight. Thank God the check in lady allowed us to get in this time, with a note that we should be more aware of the baggage’s rule especially when travel in budget airlines like TAP Portugal. I was about to complain because there’s no clear information (about 23kg baggage per passenger) in the website but I zipped my mouth as we’re close to the boarding time.
So we rushed to the gate just to find out that the flight was delayed for almost three hours. And because TAP Portugal has their own rule (😅) we didn’t get any compensation. Not even water. 😪
My opinion about TAP Portugal is mixed. I’m not happy with the service at the airport and also the vague information in the website. But the flight itself was okay. We got complementary meals and the in flight services are good. So, if you planned to travel with TAP Portugal, it’s better to check in one luggage per passenger and keep it under 23kgs (for domestic flights).
As the flight was delayed, we arrived at Lisbon Airport three hours behind the schedule. We went to the tourist information centre to buy the Lisboa Card and took the tram to our hotel Sana Reno. The sun was almost set when we arrived at the hotel so we decided to have simple dinner and went to bed early in our first night in Lisbon.
The next morning, our work-cation begun: work for Zaki and vacation for me 😀 . Zaki went to the university where he had the conference while me and Hayya explored Lisbon. And that was the moment when my impression of the city had changed.
- Lisbon is surprisingly beautiful.
It’s like Venice with less people. I love the scenery, the ambience and the foods. It’s in fact too beautiful until it distracts you from your belongings and if you’re less aware you’re in a high risk of pickpocket.
I almost experienced it myself in my third day in Lisbon. That day we went to Martim Moniz to take the famous Lisbon Tram 28.
The tram experience was quite something. We went up and down, exploring the lanes of Lisbon inside an old iconic tram. After half an hour tour, we then decided to get off at Baixa Chiado and continued our journey by walk. Suddenly, I felt my phone was vibrating. I turned around and found a woman stood closely behind me. She was accompanied by another women who pretended to take a photo of her. I found them suspicious so I grabbed her hand and asked a silly question: “Did you take anything from my bag?” She didn’t say “no” and just asked me to check my bag. I hold her hands while checking everything and when I found out that all my stuffs were still there, I let her go and even said sorry for accusing her 😁.
Back to the hotel, I read many articles about pickpocket in Lisbon and the two women really fit the stereotypes: never work alone, pretending as tourist, targeting tourist with kid, doesn’t look like local, operating in crowded places and touristy areas. I’m pretty sure they were actually pickpockets. My backpack won’t opened by itself after all. And my phone’s only vibrating when other fingerprints touch the home button. Whatever it was, I’m glad I didn’t lose anything.
Having recovered from the pickpocket incident, me and Hayya explored Lisbon further by visiting the Lisboa Story Centre in Praça do Comércio in the following day. It’s an interactive museum that tells the history of Lisbon taken from myths and facts that have shaped the city. The space is small but it worth giving all the time in the world 🙂 .
We then joined the crowd in Praça do Comércio to watch the match between Portugal vs Morocco. We’re not Portugal fans actually but it felt good to share the euphoria so we sat and cheered for them during the game.
2. Ronaldo, Ronaldo is everywhere! 😆
Visiting a country during the World Cup, especially in a country like Portugal, expect lots of football frenzy everywhere. From a metro announcement to commercial ads, you couldn’t escape the information about or the pictures of Seleção, the Portuguese national football team. The nation’s hero, Ronaldo, is even harder to avoid as he appears in almost all commercials 😀
3. Have a magical night under the stars
If you’re a fan of interactive performance, Lisbon Under Stars in Ruinas do Como is definitely for you. It’s an innovative and multidisciplinary show, which gives you immersive experience about the history and cultural heritage of Lisbon and Portugal.
4. Snacking time
Do not leave Lisbon without having at least one Pastel de Nata. This Portuguese egg tart is a must taste pastry as it has a long history in Portugal (it’s created before the 18th century!). The best place to have it is in Pastelaria or patisserie which can be easily found in every corner of Lisbon. But even in convenience store, you can get a quite good pastel de nata.
5. Try the sardines, they are not overrated.
When we arrived in Lisbon, we knew that Lisbon is famous for its sardinha (sardines). It’s a must eat, it’s in every brochure! 😀 But I wasn’t really enthusiast about it because sardine is something I could easily find back home. I mean, why would I spend euros just to eat the fish that I often eat and won’t cost me much in Indonesia. Haha.
However, as we strolled around the lanes of Lisbon and smelled the aroma of grilled sardines everyday, my mouth was watering. Maybe it was the baby too 😀 so I asked Zaki to have a typical Portuguese lunch in our last day in Lisbon with me had grilled sardines in my plate. It tasted so good and fresh and bit different from the sardines I usually have.
For a place that I’d never dreaming of, LIsbon was over my expectation. It’s not a perfect one (perfection only belongs to a place called heaven I think 😀 ) but my week in Lisbon was certainly one of the best trips I ever had. Obrigado, Lisboa!