My childhood obsession with Pokemon left me thoroughly fascinated by all things Asia. It’s why I went to Japan for my 21st; how I ended up travelling Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand at 23; and why I chose South Korea as my base for some on-the-road freelancing at 25.
On a family trip to Toulouse in 2015, I remember being shocked that my brother said he found Europe to be the most exciting continent to visit. Two years on, and I’m firmly in that camp. In the last 8 months I’ve been lucky enough to visit 9 different European countries on 12 different trips and from Ireland to Bulgaria; France to Latvia, they couldn’t be more culturally distinct. I’ve loved most of them on an equal measure, which means my attitude towards booking a long weekend away has been “I’ll just go to wherever’s got the cheapest flight; I’m sure it’ll kick ass.”
And as it turns out, Lisbon is a veritable Golconda for the aesthetically minded. The colours of the tiled facades, the fresh natural light of Lisbon in March, and the stretches of glistening water made it an idyllic destination for a long-weekend getaway with one of my most treasured friends of 15 years, the unstoppable Ciaran Clarke. Here’s my photo diary of a sunny enclave just two hours away from rainy London.
I’m enjoying one of an average four pastel de natas per day…
Even the most run-down buildings were plated with beautiful tiling; however derelict.
After getting lost in Alfama, Old Town, we took Lisbon’s answer to the tuk tuk across the city to Belem. It wasn’t much more than taking the bus and our driver was an exceptionally skilled storyteller. Did you know that our naming of tea comes from Portugal?
He told us that cha was first introduced to Portuguese priests in China during the 16th century. It became beloved in Portugal and when Catarina de Braganca was Queen of England, she ordered tea from back home. It arrived onto British shores in boxes inscribed with the acronym for Aromatic Herbs Transport or, in Portuguese, Transporte de Ervas Aromaticas: T.E.A.
Every corner seems to beg a question. I wonder what goes on behind this door?
I have a feeling that in the ‘buddy cop’ film of our friendship, I would be the hyperactive annoying one and Ciaran would be the long-suffering intelligent one. Look at the hatred in his eyes…
A small Fado bar in Old Town.
If you’ve not heard of it – and I hadn’t – Fado is traditional Portuguese music. We went to see a performance in a restaurant one evening and it was ever so moving.
Recognise the statue?
I stumbled across one particularly breathtaking view of the Jeronimos Monastery, taken from the cultural centre across the way.
I almost got him to smile for the camera…
The exotic birds of the Ajuda Gardens provided an appropriately colourful conclusion to our long weekend.