Out of the Kitchen: Lisbon, Portugal
Bom día, loves! I’m so excited to share this blog post with you, because Lisbon was one of my favorite places that we visited. When people hear that we went to Portugal, they often have the same question: “Why Portugal? Wasn’t Spain enough?”
A) No, Spain most certainly was not enough! You can never have enough Mediterranean experiences in your life! But more importantly, B) the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 was held in Lisbon this year and it’s literally the entire reason we went to Europe on our honeymoon.
When we were planning out our honeymoon, we had a lot of different ideas. I suggested a heritage trip, where we visited each country that we descend from. He suggested California, because we thought we ought to see some more of our own country before gallivanting off around the world. We both thought a Mediterranean cruise would be fun (and relaxing, for a change).
Then we looked up when Eurovision was happening, on a whim. Oh, it’s in May, you say? Oh, a week after our wedding? Right in the middle of prime honeymoon time?
Y’all, we couldn’t book our tickets fast enough!
For the unenlightened, Eurovision is the Olympics of singing competitions. Each year, dozens of countries across Europe and Europe-adjacent (shout out to Israel and Australia) gather to belt it out and show their stuff. Every country sends an entry, and at the end of the weekend, we have a final winner. It’s campy, it’s vibrant, and it’s a blast! Portugal won the contest for the first time in 2017 and had the honor of hosting the 2018 edition in Lisbon. So yes, Lisbon HAD to be on our list.
We went in fairly blind, and what we found was a beautiful, historic city with friendly citizens that were so happy to be hosting visitors from around the world. Eurovision brought a spirit of camaraderie to the city; but I don’t think the Portuguese needed its help to be so helpful and welcoming.
Our introduction to Lisboan hospitality started with our awesome AirBnb host, Luis. Luis is a superhost, meaning he goes the extra mile for his guests and has very high reviews. This isn’t just for show, either – he graciously offered to pick us up at the airport, even though our flight landed at midnight. Once we got to the apartment that we were staying in, we found that he had stocked it with breakfast, snacks, and a beautiful bottle of Portuguese rosé that I drank in its entirety – I mean, I didn’t want to be rude!
While parts of the city were positively buzzing with Eurovision energy, we could see that normally Lisbon is a gorgeous and relaxing place to be. The sidewalks and squares were tiled with the signature Portuguese ceramics that the nation is famous for. The city is situated right on the coast, which means there are ample chances for gorgeous views of the river and ocean. The history and natural beauty of the place can’t be denied, and it lead my husband and I to fall in love with it as a destination.
Since taking part in the Eurovision festivities left us little time to slow down and enjoy some food, we had more fast food here than anywhere else (and yes, McDonald’s was a part of that, and you can read my reasons why here). But two Portuguese staples stood out to me: street pizza and pasteis de nata. Street pizza was available at most of the subway stops we ran through while touring the city, and it was a godsend. 2€ netted us each a flatbread with a myriad of toppings; I think one of my favorites was ham with hardboiled egg slices.
And then, the pasteis de nata. How to describe them? Egg custard tarts, served either warm or room temperature, with or without a dusting of cinnamon (trust me, you’ll want this little touch added). We had one every chance we got, since they were often less than a Euro each. The flaky crust, the smooth interior that melts in your mouth… ugh, I can’t get them out of my mind! When I look back at our stay in Lisbon, these unassuming little things definitely make up a lot of the best memories.
So, thinking about taking a trip to Europe? Let me be the first to tell you: you #cantskipPortugal. Before we went, I was worried about spending more than a day there because I didn’t know what we would fill our time with. I can’t believe I was so ignorant! Between the beaches, the tiles, the history, the open air squares, the shopping, and the pastries, you’ll never be bored in Lisbon. We would go back a hundred times over, and we even dream of living in this beautiful coastal paradise one day.
To celebrate our trip, I’ll be trying to recreate one of our favorite dishes in the next few weeks to put up on the blog (three guesses as to what that buttery, flaky surprise will be). I hope you’ll look forward to it and continue with me on this journey around the world! For now, allow me to break out my Portuguese guitar and compose a Fado song about the saudade I feel for Lisbon. Or, maybe I’ll just let Portugal’s winning Eurovision entry do the singing for me. Tchau!