Until I took a little break down Sunny Portugal way. It seems like we retraced our steps and ended up being there almost exactly one year since we were there last. I can't say that my first trip to Lisbon was a pleasant experience, I was jobless, homeless and fund-less, by the end of the trip I had actually wrote it off completely, declaring I never wanted to go back.
This time around I was left in shock at how much I enjoyed it, I'm sure I repeated "what the hell happened now?! Lisbon is so awesome!" several times over and over. Maybe it was the romance of heading down there to book a venue for our wedding in gorgeous Sintra or maybe it was the sun and temperate weather that I have missed for months now in Amsterdam, who knows.
View from the hotel
Lisbon has an old town (Alfama) that seems to go on and on. It is filled with narrow streets, wrought iron balconies and terra-cotta roofs all of which can be enjoyed from several look out points. The most charming thing (to me at least) is that every so often a palm tree falls into view reminding you how nice it is to be back in a temperate zone away from icy pavements.
What really impressed me though, was the the Oceanarium (Oceanário de Lisboa), which happens to be the worlds second largest oceanarium. The centre is made up of a huge tank that represents the global ocean and is surrounded by 4 smaller tanks that represent the North Atlantic rocky coast, the Antarctic coastal line, the Temperate Pacific kelp forests and the Tropical Indian coral reefs. The best bit is that the tanks are 2 levels high so you can see the wildlife from above and from below. If you ever head down Lisbon way the Oceanarium is a must see (and take my advice and totally hang out by the cuttle fish tank).
Curious little cuttle fish swam right up to us when we stood outside his tank, then put on a show for us by changing his colours, awesome! Don't eat Cephalopods!
In between doing the tourist thing we headed over to Sintra to do some wedding planning and venue scouting. Sintra is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of it's exceptional beauty and 19th century architecture and it is definitely the most beautiful little town I have ever visited.
We were given a recommendation to try some queijadas (Portuguese desert) from a little cafe on the road to Sintra's old town, they may have been some of the nicest treats I have ever tried and broke my strictly no gluten rule 3 times in a row :(
In the last hours as we headed to the airport we had a basic conversation in broken Spanish with our cab driver who was keen to know how we liked Portugal, his face filled with smiles when we told him about all the delicious Portuguese sites and tastes we loved. I got a pang of wanting to live in Lisbon, but for now it's back to Amsterdam and back to reality. At least I can look forward to heading back there before too long to show all our friends and family the special little town we've found to take our vows.
Shots of the wedding venue we finally decided on