Ken’s Birthday in Lisbon

Ken and I have admittingly been terrible at updating our blog in a timely fashion. It’s a good thing, I suppose. We’ve been really busy. We moved to Altona and have been spending almost every weekend (much to Ken’s dismay) trying to furnish and complete it so it is more “us.” We have also done quite a bit of traveling – around Europe and the US. Ken even went to Hawaii for a “conference” (just joking honey…I know it was a conference.) So it’s time to recap and let you in on some of our adventures.






In May, for Ken’s 29th bday, we went to Lisbon, Portugal for a long weekend. I wasn’t all that excited when Ken planned the trip – but now I’m comparing everything to Lisbon. I loved it. Unfortunately, Portugal’s economic troubles are apparent even within Lisbon. We walked through streets of unfinished buildings and passed by many working-aged men and women who were just chilling around the parks in the middle of the day. It was a little upsetting at times, and also a little uncomfortable, but as always, we did our best to find hole in the wall joints to support and local events to attend.





We stayed at this amazing little airbnb apartment with a balcony view of the Atlantic. The entire back porch was inhabited by cats, so we had to be careful to shut the back porch when we weren’t sitting and having port wine and staring at the Atlantic through the neighbors lemon trees.



Port wine, as one might assume, is from Portugal. So we made a point of trying as many varietals as possible. We went to the Port Wine Institute, which is basically a tasting cellar, where we got to try aged Port, white Port and some others. In Lisbon’s main downtown, there are also plenty of shops that will allow small tastings which is how we ended up coming home with some white Port….a new discovery for us. And of course, as we were tasting local drinks, we naturally also came home with a bottle of our favorite local aperitif – ginjinha, a cherry brandy that if too sweet tastes like robitussin (we bought a not too sweet kind).




We tasted local fare – namely sardines, squid and salted cod. We followed in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain (again…I know…sorry) and went to one of his recommended restaurants where we had the most amazing seafood in the world. We ate langoustines, clams and scarlet shrimp, which were the highlight of our meal – that and the fact that as soon as you put down your empty beer glass, a waiter stealthy replaced it with another ice cold Sagres beer.  But back to the scarlet shrimp: they are the size of jumbo shrimp, but are red in color – like, really red. The pigment in their shells gets everywhere. Our fingers were red, our bread was red, I think even our tongues were red afterward…but I think that is what makes them so incredibly sweet and juicy. Oh, and I tried barnacles – yes like those things on the bottom of boats –  which tasting like eating the sea. All of the dishes were simply cooked – butter, a little garlic and lemon. But it was all so fresh, nothing else was necessary.



We went to a Fado restaurant in Alfama, where we were entertained by regulars and professionals alike. Fado is traditional Portuguese Folk music, which is beautiful and sad and very lyrical.

We went to Belem – where Vasco da Gama set sail to find a route to India and visited Belem Tower. After touring the tower , we treated ourselves to Ken’s birthday Pasteis de nata– a vanilla custard mini tart covered in cinnamon and sugar. Worth every bit of the three bites!







In Belem, wee even found the monastery that holds Vasgo da Gama’s tomb:



We visited the old city fortress – once the Muslim city center. The tour went it to great depths explaining how the fortress was painstakingly designed to withstand invaders only to have the inhabitants starved out once the city was under siege…Although a battering ram could not round the corner, all of the crops, herds and village homes were outside the city walls! Oops!

I took a lot of photos of tiles:





and doors:



We bought sardines in many forms.


We rode the famous tram 28:



We saw German tourists strip naked and run into the Atlantic (sorry no photos)

We walked…a lot. Lisbon is the “city of seven hills.” Legend tells of Ulysses establishing Lisbon in Greek times. When he left the city to return to Troy, the serpent-goddess Orphiussa was so angry she shook the ground with fury, forming the seven hills. Ladies and gentlemen, that was one angry serpent-goddess, because walking around Lisbon is more like hiking. Often times the streets have steps in order to ascend and descend. Even our tiny little apartment had steps that put stairwells in Amsterdam to shame – in short we walked straight straight up.





Lisbon was awesome. Everything about the city was inviting. From the tiled exterior walls to the impossibly steep roads, I loved it all. I only hope that the earthquake they are awaiting doesn’t come anytime soon so that we can go back and enjoy its splendor again and again.

One Comment

  1. cindy wrote:

    so awesome! i love hearing of your adventures, and seeing too!