Day 1 of my holiday and I already feel like a brand new woman. I arrived at my hotel in the evening yesterday, with a long day of travel behind me. A couple of months earlier, I had decided to spoil myself to a luxury hotel; coerced by the delicious looking breakfast, the extra large beds and the raving reviews. I don’t think “present me” could have thanked “past me” enough with the stress I had felt over the last month, nothing could have been better than the luxury I landed into. As soon as I walked through the doors and the sultry echoes of a jazz singer accompanied by a double bass moved through the hotel’s modern facade I was immediately soothed into my holiday and thanked heavens for my indulgence.
The rooftop, which had also lured me to the hotel, was the setting for my morning yoga session, followed by the most delicious twist on a continental breakfast I have ever experienced. Overnight oats, guacamole, chia seeds….all the things health nuts like me loose our marbles about. Ha ha…I can see some of my friends rolling their eyes. I was so chuffed by the time I laced up my boots and headed out for the longest aimless stroll I have had in a while.
I am not sure how many people would enjoy traveling with me. I love to wander. And often without a purpose. I will research a coffee shop that’s normally in the middle of the old town or an area I have heard of, then I google map my way there and slowly wander until I do or don’t find myself at that coffee shop. So many times I find something that catches my eye along the way and then I get distracted by another place that someone has told me about or a postcard I have seen. I love it, it means my days roll organically without any need for a definitive result…something that is so prevalent in my day to day at work.
And that is exactly what I did today. I had heard of this coffee shop that I was keen to try. I was told it was the best coffee in Lisbon. And so I started my stroll towards this place with very limited connectivity, my google maps lagging behind horribly. And on my stroll, I slowly started to feel the sparkle in my eye return. New places to fall in love, with new buildings to admire. And this time…it was the tiles. Lisbon is famous for its mosaic of colourfully decorated tiles and boy did this drive my creative eye crazy!
After a number of wayward stops, following the path of tiles, I finally found Copenhagen, a very hipster coffee shop. While, the coffee was delicious, I can’t say the decor or anything else grabbed me particularly. They had the artisanal bread, the overnight oats and design magazines. But would I return to sit and spend hours there….I don’t think I would. I found many more places along the way that I would spend hours at. But, credit where credit is due…I would return for the coffee 🙂
And then, I just followed my nose, I kept seeing these infamous trams, rolling down these gorgeous cobbled and undulating streets, heading towards the water and that became my new destination, winding in and out of beautiful stores and pokey holes in the wall. Intrigued by the facades of the buildings and the vibrancy created by the ever increasing crowds.
As the hum picked up, I realised I must be in the very heart of Lisbon, with buskers singing their songs, taxis picking on innocent tourists, the hazelnut roasters smoking out the streets and selfie-taking youngsters pouting their lips. It is alive and vibrant…a city with a soul.
And I was loving bearing witness to this.
I kept walking, kept following my nose towards the water and was truly blessed as I got there with a dramatic sky lighting up the waterway towards the bridge. So many couples holding hands, teenage girls bearing their midriffs while the icy wind chilled my cheeks, old people being adorable while trying hard to operate their phone cameras and a couple of quiet book readers, sitting on the embankment taking in the last bits of light.
Enjoying being back by the water, I continued to stroll along the promenade, eventually finding myself at Commercio Placa – the serious tourist bustle. I don’t normally enjoy crowds too much and so I slowly snaked my way back towards the quieter streets, stopping for a little warm octopus salad and some Vino Verde at Cafe Royale. It was lovely.
The chilly wind was forcing me to end my wandering. With exposed shoulders and no jacket (rookie!!!) I had to make my way back to my hotel, with a smile stuck on my cheeks, I wound back a different route, along a millionaires mile, where the streets felt a little posher and the stores felt a little more expensive. Funny, no tuk-tuks around these parts.
And so with a sparkle in my eye and a heart full of gratitude, I close my eyes on a wonderful first day of holiday, energised and excited by the adventures this country has to bestow on me….!