We have been quite busy lately and haven't got time to travel. Without we feeling it, it's almost the end of 2015. And to make it worse, we were going to miss the Black Friday / Cyber Monday, which IMHO is what makes Thanksgiving so thankful.
So we decided to go somewhere warmer to alleviate my FOMO symptom. Lisbon turns out to be the perfect weekend get-away destination from winter in France, with warm and fuzzy sunshine and pastel de nata (woohoo! my favorite sweet in Asia).
Lisbon is extremely hilly (quite like San Francisco). To get from place to place, it often involved climbing the hills and made us breathless. So the first and foremost tip for Lisbon is to wear rubber sole flats for the slippery cobbled steeps.
But the hilliness comes with perks: there are plenty of spots for amazing panoramic view of the city. We spent our first night at a rooftop bar with a view of the 25 de Abril Bridge (a twin of SF's Golden Gate Bridge). The silhouette of city and river was the most picturesque scene during our stay. I could see myself living there just for this view.
Our favorite spot to overlook the city is Castelo de São Jorge. Towering dramatically above Lisbon, the hilltop fortifications sneak into almost every snapshot.
Portuguese food is rich in flavor, with multiple layers of taste and texture. Apparently, we had more than enough guilty pleasure during our trip. Besides seasoned / canned seafood, nata is probably the most famous thing here. This egg custard tart got popularized in Asia through Portugal's early colonization of Macau and became one of the signature pastries in southern China (Canton and Hong Kong). I grew up eating egg tart all the time and it is one of my favorite food, so trying the indigenous Portuguese version really excited me.
Interestingly, the taste of nata is very inconsistent across different pastry shops. The one from Pastéis de Belém turns out to have the custard closest to what I had in China. In fact, this place is so signature that everyone leaves Belem with a pack of its nata.
Belém is my favorite neighborhood in Lisbon. It feels very much like San Francisco with modern vibe, waterfront and the bridge. There are not only the cultural heritage such as the UNESCO sites of Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Torre de Belém, but also new architecture like Berardo modern & contemporary art museum and plenty of nice restaurants (and nata!).
Come here for the most beautiful sunset in Lisbon. Take your time by the river, as the night life won't start until midnight. Sunset is just the beginning of fun. No picture for proof, but Lisbon is probably the most hard-core party city I've been. You will have to come see yourself.