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Travel Tuesday: Solo Trip To Lisbon, Portugal

It has been over two weeks since I've come back from my first international solo trip (not counting Toronto).

I decided to whisk myself to Lisbon for Thanksgiving for 5 nights to see what I can see, eat all the food, walk around, acquire new impressions, meet new people, and get away from my regular life.

Below are some of the instagram photos that I took along the way, but first I'll describe for you my itinerary and how I approached putting together this vacation. My intention for this post is to help you in planning your own trip to Lisbon or at the very least to show you a part of the world you've not seen before and to encourage you not to wait for anyone to travel with. Go! Go! Go!

This part was easy. My twin went to Lisbon 5 years ago and highly recommended International Design Hotel. I booked it immediately. Because I was traveling in the off season, the rates were great. The hotel is centrally located, easily accessible by public transportation from the airport, has a boutique feel, and really great customer service. I loved having the room on the 4th floor with a balcony overlooking the Rossio square. {NOTE: ask for a robe in the room and fresh milk for your coffee.}

Normally, I plan my vacations well in advance and fill the days with museum visits, markets, salsa dancing, shopping, etc. This time around, I just wasn't feeling like doing that.

Instead, I decided to book two day trips through Viator, a company I've used before both in the States and internationally with great success and to spend the rest of the time wandering around without a strict agenda. 

The first day trip was to visit Palacio de Queluz and Pena Palace. This was a magical day. I felt like I was transported to the time of kings and queens or to Disneyland, where I've actually never been. Make sure to walk through the grounds of the Pena Palace to experience the magic of Mother Nature so close to the city.

The second day trip was to a few wineries, a small seaside town where we had seafood lunch with the view of the water, and a visit to a tile factory! That's where I met Stacey and Patricia who I became friends with and shared my last dinner in Lisbon (more on that later). In fact, Patricia lives in MD and invited me to her family's house for Christmas Eve!

And if you follow my blog, you've already read about Lazy Flavors walking food tour of Lisbon I was invited to and absolutely loved on my first full day in the city

I did not visit a single museum. I did not go salsa dancing. I did almost no shopping. And I have ZERO regrets about this. 

Instead, I got lost and went to a botanical garden which was in a different part of the city from the one I intended to visit.

I took dozens of photos of tiled buildings and clotheslines and street murals.

I went to see the Tower of Belem, saw a beautiful sunset, and learned that a view of the city from Rua Augusta Arch is much better than the one from the Elevador de Santa Justa, not to mention there was no line and the entrance fee was only 2 euros.

And then there was all the food...

1. Bastardo: this is the restaurant located in the International Design Hotel. I normally don't eat at hotel restaurants, but because I was really tired one of the nights, I decided to walk down and have a meal. I was blown away. Funky decor. Friendly service. A bread basket that comes in a box made out of legos with hummus. Carefully chosen menu. What's not to like!? In fact, I returned for my last dinner at Bastardo with Stacey and Patricia before flying back the next morning.

Bastardo also does a fantastic buffet breakfast for 15 euros {!!!} including pastries, fresh fruit, quiches, coffee, mimosas, meats, cheeses, etc. I only went once because of my schedule, but wish I had visited it at least one more time. {NOTE: Bastard happens to be one of my favorite words.}

2. A Cevicheria: my friend Jenny's friend went to this restaurant and recommended it to Jenny, who then recommended it to me, and I'm so glad I listened. {NOTE: one of the benefits of solo traveling is that your wait for a table or a seat at a bar is waaaaay shorter than if you are a couple or a group of people.} I loved this place as soon as I saw a giant octopus {not real} hanging from the ceiling, and saw the beautiful tiled floor. I sat at the bar next to an adorable American couple in Lisbon on their honeymoon and chatted off and on with them throughout the meal ooh'ing and aah'ing over how vibrant, flavorful, and creative the food was. Go for the chef's menu!

Have you been to Lisbon?
Do you travel solo?
Leave a comment sharing your favorites with me and my readers!!

Safe travels!