Arrival to Lisbon
Before the world turned upside down, I had planned a girls trip for my birthday to Portugal. We were going to be there for 9 days and split the trip into two parts, first 3-4 days exploring Lisbon and the other days we were going to drive down South to explore the Algarve Coast. But life had other plans for us.
The trip from Bodø to Portugal is a pretty quick one, around 5.5 hours flying time plus 2 hour layover in Oslo. To some this might not sound like a quick trip but to me, who’s used to long haul flights from Norway to US that can take anywhere from 15 – 24 hours, this really is a super quick an easy trip.
As I arrive to Lisbon it’s already late so I do not get to see as much of the city as I’d like but am definitely impressed with our hotel 54 Santa Catarina which really is more like an apartment, smacked right in the heart of old Lisbon, between the elegant Bairro do Chiado and the Tagus river.
We settle in and catch up over a bottle of wine (or a couple) into the late hours, eventually venturing out into the city in search of some food, we come across the best late night snack ever. I still don’t know what it’s called but it was a crossover between french croissants and a ham and cheese sandwich… I know what you’re thinking, a match made in heaven. I guess you’ll have to take my word for it. Finally, tired and with full bellies we turn in for the night.
As a new day begins, I am immediately in awe of the views from our room. The colorful buildings, covered with vibrant tiles, the blue skies and perfect twenty-something degree weather. But there is one thing that stands out like a sore thumb and it is the amount of graffiti that is literally covering every building and every wall. This perfect, beautiful architecture covered up by meaningless scribbles. There is graffiti that’s art and there’s graffiti that’s not… and this for most part was not.
Lisbon is situated between 7 hills and is often compared to San Francisco because of the steep hills, street trams and the 25 de Abril Bridge which is very similar to the Golden Gate bridge.
As we explore the city, I love everything about it… the vibe, the architecture, the history and the tiny streets. But there’s one thing about the streets that I notice, they are becoming more and more quiet, as the news of the Corona Virus spreads around the world. A city that is normally filled with tourist to the point that the locals complain about it, is going silent.
Away from the constant news of events playing out around the world, with the exception of less crowded streets, it’s pretty much business as usual in the city. We get engulfed by the city and its old churches, brick red roofs, and incredible art murals. Behind every corner hides a surprise, this place truly is a photographer’s dream – a city of yellows and oranges and reds, real oranges too if I may add that make the tiny streets and squares smell of its sweet scent.
Oh and the blue hues of the tiles. The tiles are everywhere, reflecting the blue skies and the stars in the night sky back to us.
Have I mentioned the murals? And the tiny streets?
As the world keeps spinning, the news from home is not good. We have now been in Lisbon for 3 days when we realize this trip will not go according to plan and that we need to get back to our respective home countries… except there is one small problem. There is no flights. And the prices for the few available flights have more than tripled and oh yea, borders are being closed.
Two Days in Cascais
With the flights rebooked to the earliest possible date, we are left with two days in Portugal so we decide to leave the city and take off to a small fishing town of Cascais.
The vibe in Cascais is 360 degrees opposite of Lisbon. It is quiet. It’s not the tourist season. The beaches are empty and crashing waves of the ocean is all you hear. Once again we get swept over with peace and calm and enjoy our last days in Portugal.
We also get lucky with our choice of hotel with Farol Hotel. This boutique hotel was just what we needed – with its ridiculous scenic views it was the perfect place to unwind and relax.
The whole town of Cascais is a dreamy destination where you can imagine yourself laying out on the beach all day, strolling down the 3km path along the ocean and sipping sangria all day long. Its charm is also hidden in the tiny streets, the blooming trees and the feeling that there is not a worry in this world.
Our two day stay in Cascais goes by quickly. It was a time filled with peace and relaxation but also stress and worry. Because how can you truly relax when the whole world is in turmoil? But we do the best we can to get thru this safely.
Once back home, we settle into the current routine of the world… staying home. In life there is time and season for everything, and right now is the time to go inward. But the sun will shine again, and we will go out and travel, and gather, and be more grateful than ever for things that we took for granted before. Stay safe my friends <3