Interview: Maria talks Sintra, Pastel de Nata and her new found love for Lisbon
We recently found a comment on our latest Lisbon blog post stating that the article had encouraged a visit to the city! We quickly got in touch with Londoner Maria to ask her about her exciting trip. Here, she talks us through experiencing Lisbon on a moped, her visit to Sintra's old town and the special ingredients that make up this wonderful city...
1. What encouraged you to visit Portugal’s vibrant capital city?
We wanted somewhere to celebrate our 5th Anniversary, a short city break that was a couple of hours away with lots to do and see, regardless of what the weather may be this time of year. I tend to read up on the Clickstay blog when I can and when we came across '16 Reasons To Visit Lisbon' we immediately settled on it as our destination.
2. Did you plan most of your trip beforehand or take each day as it came?
Initially we had planned to just stay in the city and we had a very general idea of what we wanted to do there. Once we arrived, spontaneously, we decided to rent a moped, something that changed our travelling experience completely. It allowed us to see so much more than we would be able to on foot in our three day time frame. We were able to get really good coverage of the city in that first day, allowing us some room to branch out and experience some of Lisbon distinctive culture, but at our own pace.
3. You were staying pretty close to Lisbon's city centre. What was that like?
We were situated right by Rossio Square, so very central; Barrio Alto was minutes away, as was the start of the No 28 tram and Santa Justa Elevator. The river promenade and square were just a five minute stroll away in one direction, whilst the decorated high street was in the other, featuring colourful fashion stores and eateries. Everywhere was very accessible even without the moped. The city was very laid back and hasn’t been through the trappings of commercialism like some of Europe's other capitals. There were no restrictions to where we could park our moped so it was really great being able to spot somewhere en-route and have the freedom to just stop and investigate , whether it was a stunning viewpoint or cathedral or restaurant! All the sights/landmarks were very reasonably priced, as were the restaurants and bars we visited.
4. Talking of food, what was the culinary scene like in Lisbon and where would you recommend eating?
On our very first day we were lucky enough to discover the Time Out Mercado da Ribeira, an incredible food market! It featured an assortment of stalls offering top quality, authentic dishes being served up from numerous restaurants with a large communal eating area where locals and tourists can sit side by side and eat together. We also visited Manteigaria to try the famous Pastel de Nata, the custard tart that is loved around the world. Delicious!
5. We saw in your photos that you ventured on the popular day trip to Sintra! How did you find it and would you recommend it?
Absolutely! Sintra was lovely and definitely worth the visit, especially as we got there by the scenic coastal route, stopping off in Belem, Estoril and Cascais on our way. The scenery on this trip is breathtaking. 'Fairy-tale' is an apt description, as you get to experience the beauty of towering castles amongst so much green landscape. You do need a fair amount of time to cover the three palaces and to just take in the atmosphere, but it was well worth it.
6. How would you describe the ambience and culture of the city?
I have visited many European cities and in Lisbon, the people were the friendliest and most helpful I have come across. There is something for everyone, from architecture, food, culture and a fantastic beach and night life.
7. Finally, can you name one MUST DO when visiting Lisbon?
There are so many to list, but if you’re brave enough, getting a moped to get around quickly will allow you to see so much more of this gorgeous city, giving you the time to venture to the coast and the beautiful town of Sintra.