I always get so excited when I have a new city to write about because I absolutely adore these kinds of posts – writing them and reading them. Whenever we go to a new, exciting city we make it our mission to pack as much in as possible to our short time there, and Lisbon was no exception! In the last few years I have heard seemingly endless glowing reports of the Portuguese capital from travel savvy friends and, as regular holidayers in the Algarve, I was pretty ashamed it had taken us this long to get there! So, this year on our way to our regular holiday spot we decided to book a whirlwind 48hour stop-over in Lisbon. I feel like we did the city proud, so here is a run down of our itinerary as inspiration for your visit!

 

The basics
Flight: EasyJet London Gatwick -> Lisbon
Just over 2 hours and we found the price to be very reasonable even in holiday time! Lisbon airport is fairly close to the city centre and guess what?? Uber works like a dream there! And it's much cheaper than London – perfect for getting from the airport to our accommodation which only cost around 7 euros.

 

Accommodation:

As we were on a budget we booked a double room in a hostel and stayed in the lovely Hostel Graca 28 which was fantastic value and perfectly fine as a base for all of our adventures! We were located on the Rua da Graca which is a cool area with a buzzing vibe and only 20 min walk from most of the main attractions. I would really recommend staying around this area or the nearby Alfama area for a fantastic vibe and some amazing bars and restaurants which are slightly less expensive than the ones in the city centre.

 

Our Itinerary
Day One – walking, walking and more walking…

Having arrived late the night before we decided to make the most of our first full day in Lisbon and tried to get around all the main city centre attractions in one day! Lisbon is a hilly place and at 35 degrees and very little wind it was not the best conditions for trekking around the place – but we pushed on regardless! We always love to explore cities on foot, as you see much more. There are trams and buses in Lisbon but on the first day we got around by walking only, and covered 28,000 steps (not even joking)!! If you don't fancy walking we would recommend the local tram to get around as the buses don't tend to get up some of the more steep and skinny roads.

 

First: Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
We headed up here first thing to get some stunning views of the city before the crowds descended. This view point is only a few minutes for the area which we stayed in, being slightly outside the main city centre it can mean that it is slightly quieter. This viewpoint is hailed as the best place to take in the whole of Lisbon from above, and I'm inclined to agree.


Next: Exploring!

We put the map away and basically went for a long old walk! We knew we were heading in the direction of the city centre and just kind of walked to see what we could discover. Lisbon is all about the beautiful terraced building and general kind of rustic charm so exploring on foot brought us through so many gorgeous cobbled streets and just general beautiful architecture. Pretty much all the streets are like this and it's what makes the city so gorgeous! Taking photographs of the coloured houses was one of my favourite things. We wandered up to the old castle and had a coffee and cake (when in Lisbon how can you not??) but decided not to go into the castle as the queue was intense and … ya know – budget and all that. But it was still lovely to see the setting and take it in from the outside. We then wandered down towards the main square and found some other stunning viewpoints. Walking is also the best way to grab some photo opportunities of the old trams in action! I wasn't so bothered about riding the tram as getting a photograph of it!! As you are walking around you can't help but find some amazing street art too.

Lunch – Alfama

For lunch we decided to find somewhere in the old town part of Lisbon – Alfama. Alfama is a gorgeous district as I mentioned, and is amazing for totally instagrammable streets and buildings! It's also buzzing in the evening for drinks or to find some live music. For lunch, we stopped in the tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant Tu Eu where we enjoyed gorgeous, freshly prepared in front of our eyes food. We went for a typical Mediterranean platter with seafood, cheese, meats and other tapas which was absolutely delicious. I'd really recommend this neighbourhood for food and drink.

 

Afternoon and evening – Central Lisbon and viewpoint again!

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the central part of Lisbon, the main square and the shops (and of course the ice cream parlour!) This area is obviously busy and full of tourism so it wasn't my favourite part. There are many attractions in the city centre such as the elevator which takes tourists up for a view of the city but to be honest I always find these things a bit overpriced. We prefer to just wander around see what we can see.  We also came across a street paved in pink, coined originally 'The Pink Street' which was cute! The town square is an attractive area with lots of restaurants but we decided to eat close to our hostel for a more authentic meal. By the time we made it back we were so exhausted after all the walking we had a light meal in a local café and then headed up to the same viewpoint again to see the city skyline at night! It was beautiful and there was even a jazz band busking so the atmosphere was wonderful.

 

Day Two – Belem and West of the City

 

Morning – Pasteis de Belem

Out of all the amazing things I had heard about Lisbon, this place was probably what got me the most excited! For those of you who have been to Portugal you may be familiar with the traditional pastel de nata, or egg custard tart, which is absolutely divine.  They are one of my favourite cakes in the world! Well, Pasteis de Belem is a 400 seat café in the West of Lisbon which claims to serve the best pastel de nata's in the whole of Portugal! We took a bus to Belem and it was easy to find the place – the queue was huge! Due to the sheer number of tables however we were seated quickly and served efficiently. The atmosphere was fantastic and the food was great. By the time we arrived it was nearly lunch time so we had sandwiches, coffee and of course two pastel de nata's. It was all delicious but I have to say, I can't speak for the whole of Portugal but they were definitely the best I've ever had! I'd love to get my hands on that secret recipe! An absolute must-visit.

 

Afternoon – River Walk

After lunch we headed for yet more walking along the river back towards the city. It's a long way, so we walked about an hour and then took the bus the rest of the way. The walk was so pretty and it was lovely to be on the water and see lots of sailing boats, which we adore. We also saw some lovely museums along the way and got some great pictures of the huge bridge – Golden Gate Bridge eat your heart out!

 

Dinner and drinks – Time Out Market

Another fabulous recommendation from friends, the Time Out Market is situated to the West of the city centre and is a huge covered market which sells food, produce, flowers and gifts from independent retailers. The market is amazing and has a fantastic vibe, as well as seriously stunning food! Foodies must come here! It's packed full of some of Portugal's best chefs who want to serve world food in a casual setting. We ate in the seafood restaurant Marisqueira Azul which was by far our best food of the trip. We ordered a selection of delicious seafood including their specials; crab, octopus salad and locally caught razor clams which was all seriously divine. After dinner we also enjoyed a couple of G&T's at the Time Out Bar in the market and soaked up the atmosphere. The food and drink here was on the pricier side but it was definitely worth it for the quality and atmosphere.

We had such a fabulous whirlwind two days in Lisbon and we absolutely loved it. The city lived up to it's expectations in every way! The architecture, food, drink, nightlife and history is all amazing, but the thing I love most about Lisbon is how beautiful it is. Even the residential streets which have essentially nothing to see are seriously beautiful and the houses are so pretty! It's the perfect city to grab a coffee and just city bag and people watch, the vibe is awesome there. I would recommend it for a city break without a doubt! I hope you find this useful if you are planning a trip to Lisbon.

Have you been to Lisbon before? Is it on your bucket list?

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I’m back!

I know I’ve been a bit absent lately; I’ve had A LOT of work stuff going on recently which is not something that I really talk about in my blog, which I think leads a lot of people to think this is my full time career! I wish it was, but sadly, I also have a full time job. One that has been extremely stressful lately and has taken over most aspects of my life! I’ve really missed blogging.

Anyway, I’m out of the woods and back on my A game! Luckily, I have lots of things to write about and fill you in on! Last weekend was mine and Paul’s first wedding anniversary weekend and we had the most INCREDIBLE time I’ve been so excited to share it! I can’t believe it’s been a year it’s gone so fast!

First up, year one is paper and Paul took it upon himself (cutie that he is) to organise a surprise weekend for me seeing as I was so bogged down with work. Paper being the theme – he prepared 5 paper envelopes for me to open at different times over the weekend, each containing a different surprise activity! Such a cute idea I loved it.

On Saturday (the day before our actual anniversary) when at 9am I was instructed to get up, dressed (smart/casual and comfy!) and pack an overnight bag! Eeeeeek! The first envelope contained lunch reservations at The Urban Meadow Café & Bar, Bayswater; a gorgeous West London restaurant overlooking Hyde Park. I was so impressed with the food there and we pigged out on a three course meal. The puddings in particular were spectacular – check out the fruit crumble I had!

The second envelope contained our booking at La Suite West Hyde Park, our hotel for the evening! It was at this point I realised we were staying in central London for the night so I was super excited trying to guess what we would be doing that evening! We went to check in to the boutique hotel which was absolutely beautiful, all marble bathroom, pure white sheets and a HUGE bed! What is it about nice hotels always having the comfiest beds in the world?! Seriously, it was like lying on a marshmallow.

We had a couple of hours to ‘kill’ before the next envelope, but in that part of London it’s never really killing time as there is so much to do! We wandered around Hype Park for a bit, and despite the dismal forecast the rain held off for us and it was quite warm (more on that later!!). We walked up to Portobello Road market, one of my favourite parts of the city, and enjoyed listening to live music and people watching, perfectly poised in the window of the Electric Diner Notting Hill sipping delicious gin cocktails. We had so much fun and what with me being so busy and stressed out lately it was so so nice to spend some quality time together without distractions.

At 5pm it was back to the hotel and the third envelope contained dinner reservations at the hotel restaurant; a raw and vegan only restaurant! Paul had pre booked the set menu and it was really interesting to try some vegan food as it’s not something I’ve had much experience with in the past! I know he won’t mind me saying (as he agreed!!) that it wasn’t my favourite food in the world – I think it’s safe to say we are both hard-core carnivores! But it was great to do something different. Before I knew it we were in a taxi and it was time for the fourth envelope as we made our way across town.

I was so excited to find out that the evening surprise was tickets to On The Town at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park! I had a sneaky suspicion it might be the theatre (Paul was adamant the taxi picked us up at 7pm on the dot!) but I never thought he would have remembered that I’d said ages ago that I’d like to see it! I love open air theatre, something about being outside makes it magical, plus the fact that On The Town stars Danny Mac; my Strictly Come Dancing fave!! The theatre itself was amazing, all done up with twinkly fairy lights and an outdoor bar. We made our way to our excellent seats with a bottle of red wine ready for the show to start, and promptly it began to pour with torrential rain! Luckily, Paul had been prepared and asked me to bring a raincoat, even more luckily the theatre were clearly used to this – they waited for the rain to pass and about 10 minutes later they towelled down the stage and the show began! We were lucky – if the rain had been persistent I expect it would have been cancelled as there is so much leaping about in the choreography I don’t think it would be safe! But after one short spell of downpour we were in for a warm and pleasant evening.

The production was fantastic! Dancing, singing and acting all brilliant, wonderful costumes, the play was funny and moving with enough of a nod to the traditional ‘cheesy’ aspect of it but also with new contemporary styling thrown in. And with the natural light going from light, to dusk, to dark and being surrounded by nature made it extra magical for me. I would thoroughly recommend it.

After we stayed the night in the stunning La Suite West Paul said we were going home in the morning (our actual anniversary) so we went home and chilled out for a bit before opening the final envelope which was the best of them all!! Tickets to see Little Mix at their Summer Shout Out tour that evening! I literally jumped around the room when he told me I was SO EXCITED! I’ve been wanting to see them for so long.

And they did not disappoint! WOW those girls have sass and such incredible bods! I could really use some of their confidence!  They really put on a show and sang and danced literally non stop every single hit they sang it – finishing with Shout Out To My Ex and everyone was jumping and singing along it was incred! The weather played nice as well we had beautiful late evening sunshine, I felt like I was loving life at a festival! Seriously girls, you killed it.

 

SO after an amazing and exhausting weekend I can’t believe how lucky I am to have such an amazing husband who knows me inside out. Not just with presents but with the everyday things that really matter, I can’t believe how lucky I am to be married to someone like Paul who makes my life complete. Love you x

 

 

We discovered this little beauty last night when we attended their 6 course ‘tasting menu experience’ which we were given as a gift. The Nirvana Kitchen is essentially a restaurant within a hotel, but they are seemingly trying to get more people in aside from guests by doing this experience. We got a 6 course tasting menu for 2 people and a bottle of prosecco included.

The interior of the restaurant is absolutely stunning, modern and interesting but also hints at its Asian theme. I was really impressed right from the start by the gorgeous, dimly lit decor and GET THIS the colour scheme was rose gold! My favourite. Even the cutlery was rose gold. I was in heaven.

The cuisine is ‘pan asian’ which they explained means Asian fusion from all over the continent, including Thai, Malasian, Chinese influences and more. To me – it basically means Posh Asian. The food was , by all accounts, Masterchef-esque and it was absolutely gorgeous. The portions were small but plenty and they flavours and presentation was goddam perfect. Literally the most tasty food I’ve ever had in my life.

As you can see from the pics below the food was stunning. This is the tomato ceviche with posh crisps (top), duck, watermelon and cashew nut salad and the chilli beef with purple potatoes.

Anyone looking for a special meal in London, particularly if you like Asian flavours with a twist, this ones for you.

Nirvana Kitchen.

xox

This weekend we went to visit a friend in the cute seaside town on Hastings. It wasn’t really a weekend away, just a day trip but we had such a lovely time I thought I would write a post about what we did.

Hastings is very beautiful and full of old buildings and English seaside charm. We braced the August wind (it was freezing) and spent the afternoon down by the seafront, exploring the pier and admiring the brave surfers! The sea front has all the usual; arcades, stalls selling ice teams and souvenirs, children’s rides as of course fish and chip shops. However, it’s one of the prettiest and cleanest British seasides I’ve ever seen! And I’ve been to quite a few.

I was particularly taken with George Street, an old street full of vintage cafes, shabby chic boutiques and cute arty places, it’s definitely somewhere I would like to explore some more.

We weren’t really feeling like fish and chips (trying to eat clean!) so we stopped at hipster pub The Crown for some lunch. I was soooo impressed with their gourmet pub food and had probably the best bruschetta I’ve ever had, here or abroad! They also stock local beers and drinks and use local ingredients which I like.

A proper old, English pub – just how I like them.

Hastings is definitely worth a visit and it would have been even better had it been a sunny day. It’s a lovely seaside town which has enough going on but doesn’t seem to have been fully ‘discovered’ and overrun by city people seeking the beach on their weekends, like Brighton and Bournemouth have.  The beach is shingle but that’s never stopped us Brits!  Still good on a hot day for sunbathing, arcades, icecream and even a dip in the Atlantic (for the brave only)!!

xox