Ever wonder what goes on in the head of a EuroCheapo editor during a research trip? Wonder no longer. Following a recent trip to Lisbon, Listings Editor Vivien Kim Thorp paused to ask herself a few questions about the Portuguese capital. Scroll down and read about Vivien's five favorite Lisbon hotels, her Lisbon "city secret" tip, and her favorite Portuguese (OK, Brazilian!) local food.
1. Five Favorite hotels in Lisbon
It's hard for me to name just a few favorites in Lisbon, as there are so many great and varied places to stay here.
Hands down, one of my favorite spots was the Pousada de Juventude Lisboa. It's a hostel and it's not in the old town, but it's got friendly staff, tons of amenities and a great vibe. It's very clean, with fun décor.
If I was traveling with a group of friends on a budget, I'd book rooms at the Pensão Praça da Figueira. It has something for every budget traveler. Plus the owner is friendly, the rooms are constantly being renovated and there's a guest kitchen on every floor.
If you're in a no-nonsense kind of mood and need business-class services, plenty of amenities and a sparkling bathroom, then I'd suggest one of the two Turim hotels: the Hotel Turim Europa or the Hotel Turim Lisboa. They're new, fresh and well-furnished, yet smashingly reasonable. Plus, there are no extreme yo-yo rates at either hotel.
Finally, should I find myself in Lisboa during a steamy August or in the dead of winter, I would look for special deals at Solar dos Mouros. It's my dream hotel—small, sophisticated, friendly and original, with tremendous views.
2. Favorite thing about working in Lisbon
Lisbon is such a beautiful and laid-back city. I love that the old neighborhoods have been so well-preserved. The views are stunning. You pop around a corner and see the River Tejo reflecting the late afternoon sunlight or the churches and treetops on the city's hills. This place has a nice pace. You can meander around a sleepy old neighborhood that seems lost in time or you can party all night on the cobblestone streets of Bairro Alto. But whatever you do, avoid heels!
3. What surprised you about Lisbon?
If it isn't already crystal clear, I love Lisbon. That said, I was surprised by how little I liked traditional Portuguese food. I was into the olives, ham, and cheese served before every drink and meal. And, certainly, I loved all the wine. But in general I wanted more spice.
4. City secret
It shouldn't be a secret, but you should always bring the Lisboa Card pamphlet with you when seeing the sites. Though it may seem like the card alone will suffice, many places require a tear-out coupon from the booklet, along with the card, for a discount or free entrance to be claimed. Without the booklet, you'll end up paying full price.
5. Local food item
Despite my complaints about traditional Portuguese cuisine, I do love feijoada, a heavy pork and bean stew traditionally served on Sundays. But I have to admit that I prefer the Brazilian version of feijoada, which is easy to find in Portugal.
6. Highlight of visit to Lisbon
Aside from tripping down the streets of Bairro Alto and soaking up the scene, my favorite part of Lisbon was the Oceánario in Parque das Nações. The aquarium's architecture is stunning. Its modern roof calls to mind ship masts and billowing sails. And the marine life is fantastic. A giant cylindrical aquarium representing the open ocean forms the axis for four ocean-themed exhibits. Inside manta rays, sharks, and even a mola-mola swim side by side, something you'd be hard-pressed to witness in nature.
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