Slow Travel in the time of a pandemic: our month in Lisbon

How to travel in the time of a pandemic, when covid seems to be only one sneeze away? Go slow, live like a local, stay outdoors and away from the crowds.

This is the West Coast of Europe, the weather and views are so very California. Lisbon is on the same latitude as San Francisco, same-same but different with its hills, trams, bay, red bridge, fabulous coffee and restaurants for a fraction of the cost. Wear comfy shoes since in the Lisbon hills you will be climbing 100 floors a day. We spent one month discovering Lisbon, but Covid did not catch us. Here are our tips and faves! (Poems below: Ferninand Pessoa)

1. Be careful or it will get you!

Make sure you are fully vaccinated, wear a mask indoors and in a crowd and have a travel insurance that fully covers covid care.

2. Stay away from touristy areas and crowds

Live like a local. Escape the crowds and their germs by staying in an apartment or Airbnb. In Lisbon go for the quieter areas of Estrela, Restelo or Alcantara. Get a two bedroom place if you are on a longer stay and want to combine a workcation and invite family and friends to stay.

3. Visit curious small museums off the beaten path

4. Wonder out in the parks, meet statues

Meet historical people and fairy tale creatures in the form of statues and sculptures. Here are some of our favourite parks with heaps of interesting outdoor art:

  • Jardim da Estrela. Spot chickens sitting on the hedge, night dancers at the pavilion. Greet the keeper of the ducks Guardadora de Patos inspired by a fairy tail princess.
  • Parque da Bela Vista. Huge park with excellent views. Many exits are locked so make sure you come in either from the South (Spinola Avenue) or East (Regio Avenue) side.
  • Tapada das Necessidades. In the royal times a hunting ground and out of bounds for the disciples. Beautifully neglected park with peacocks and chickens. The last queen of Portugal used the Casa do Regalo Pavilion as her painting studio.

5. Favour small restaurants and outdoor seating

Quiosques are a Lisbon tradition since 1869 and you find them in almost every park and public space where you can enjoy a Pastel de Nata custard tart, Ginginha cherry liquor. We may also have downed a Caipirinha or two.

Our top restaurant favourites:

  • Loco. 16-course tasting menu from seasonal, organic locally sourced ingredients. Almost impossible to get a reservation, but they kindly tend to the waiting list.
  • Sala. Contemporary organic Portuguese cuisine with a wonderful service.
  • Senhor Uva. Wonderful selection of natural wines and creative Vegan dishes.
  • Terroir. Every course is a delightful treat of flavors highlighting Portuguese ingredients.

6. Walk along the endless coastline

  • Amble from the Oeiras Praia da Torre along the Camino Maritimo boardwalk towards Lisbon. Watch roller skaters whizz by and surfers bob in the waves.
  • Parque das Nações is a futuristic waterfront area with historical vessels, a Telecabine cable car and a spot for bird watching in the Estuary which is largest in Europe!
  • The empty beaches are just a short Uber ride away. Cross the bridge and walk along the 30 km of perfect beaches from Charneca da Caparica to S. Joao da Caparica.

7. Watch movies about Portugal

8. Read and listen to stories about the country, its history and people

Read my piece on the up and coming Portuguese Startup Culture in Helsingin Sanomat!

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