After two months of not having seen each other, my boyfriend and I were reunited once again, this time in Lisbon, Portugal, after flight delays which were even more frustrating due to the nature of our holiday being a reunion. (Okay, maybe two months isn’t that long, but long distance relationships, let alone relationships, are tricky enough for me as it is.)
Our first two nights were spent up on the hillier side of Lisbon in a lovely little AirBnB just a short walk from the hustle and bustle of the winding streets, the wide plazas and atmospheric bars tucked away on cobbled paths.
Food and drink are always a great way into the soul of a new destination, and with my extremely limited knowledge of the Portuguese world (apart from the fact that pastéis de nata are fucking delicious), having local input was greatly appreciated. Due to Fran’s career he knows a few guys in Portugal which led to our second night – my favourite – full of Portuguese liqueur and traditional music.
One of Fran’s workmates introduced us to a tiny bar which sold ginjinha only. It’s made of ginja berries (sour cherries) and is usually drunk as a shot. We opted for the chocolate shot glasses which made for a nice pre-dinner dessert. From there we walked to the starting place for nights out. On one of the main roads lies a fairly large plaza with a kiosk to one side of it. This place, with just one guy in it, strictly serves no beer but instead offers a number of Portuguese liqueurs including amarguinha made from almonds.
Take one of the little roads going up from the kiosk and you’ll find yourself amongst a number of little restaurants and bars. The great thing about this place is that when you’re too hammered to figure out where you are, just keep walking downhill and you’ll get to the main road, from there it should be a piece of cake. In theory.
From Portugal’s capital we took a three-hour train ride up north to Porto. Quickly dropping out stuff off at our second AirBnB, we headed into the centre to meet some other guys from work for lunch. All over Porto you’ll find signs for little restaurants serving francesinhas. They’re laden with meat and cheese so definitely neither vegetarian nor vegan friendly. However, we were introduced to one restaurant which was absolutely heaving at 2PM where I could try a veggie francesinha made with tofu and vegetarian sausages to substitute the meat, layered with bread and drenched in a mild cheese and veg gravy. Add some chips and you’ve got yourself your whole day’s worth of calories. Well, that’s what it felt like I’d eaten anyway. Walking around Porto to catch the sunset over the bridge and stopping off at Livraria Lello (Harry Potter fans should recognise this), burnt off some calories, I hope.
During the four days in Portugal I felt like a bit of a camera wanker. My Canon DSLR, Polaroid Cube (a present from my brother) and my new baby the Polaroid Snap Instant Digital (a present from Fran) were always at hand. I could’ve made it even worse by throwing my phone into the mix… But with the great zoom and quality of my Canon, the lovely wide angle on the Cube and the novelty of the Polaroid, I think I had a good mix of photographic products to capture some of the beauty of Lisbon and Porto.
Lessons learnt: travelling with a partner is a definite must, I will always appreciate a local’s knowledge, cameras are great.