Lonely Planet gives one of the best introductions to the city of Lisbon. I read the first few lines and was sold. I also stopped reading after those first few lines, because I wanted the rest to unfold, slowly, all on its own during our visit.
Pick any major city in the west to visit in December and you are bound to land amidst a grand celebratory atmosphere. It surely adds more colour to the vacation. Lisbon was simply wonderful too. The Christmas and New Year cheer was all around. The city centre was lit up beautifully in the evenings, the streets were decorated and so lively! There were artists – singers, story-tellers, painters – lining up the small alleyways who one could stand, watch and enjoy for hours.
I am sure you can find all of Lisbon’s beauty captured in travel books and blogs. There won’t be anything new here about the yellow trams in the narrowest of lanes, clunking past the old quarters of the Alfama neighbourhood or the view of river Tagus from the São Jorge Castle or about the wonderful street art, graffiti and signature tiles that adorn the beautiful, vintage city.
But if I ever go back to Lisbon, of which I am sure, it will be majorly because of these two amazing eateries we discovered, and the memory of the events leading up to their discoveries – just so we can relive it all!
The hidden gem: Caxemira
There are no signboards outside, so you may think Google maps is fooling you when it says you have arrived. But, I guess that’s how the owners of Caxemira like it. This well-lit, somewhat cramped but warm & friendly little place is an Indian restaurant at the heart of Lisbon! It was bustling with people when we walked in, and all the food in front of them woke up my senses with a jolt. Hungry from the long walks around the city that morning, we ordered simple & the flavours that exploded in my mouth with the first bite took me back to the Punjabi Dhabas of our highways – oooh, the yummy, finger-licking good ones!
The stylish, sun-drenched cafe: Linha D’Água
We chanced upon this pond-side cafe when we were strolling at the Amalia Rodrigues Garden, to kill some time before heading off to the riverside. The sun was out and there was no better place than amidst greenery to be. We decided to stretch our stroll until lunch time, only to be able to delight ourselves with a meal at this beautiful, very inviting cafe! And, it did not disappoint us at all. Even for a finicky vegetarian like me, there was ample choice in the menu. It was away from all the hustle-bustle of the city centre and perhaps that made it even more endearing!
No matter how much is written (and therefore read), about a place that’s new to you, what makes it your own are all these little ‘aha-moments’ you create there! What tugs your heart’s chords in that moment, what seeps in as the best, warmest memory is purely personal and of course, totally unique to you!
Perhaps why, it is never enough to read all that’s on the world wide web. Instead, the bigger joys lie in sailing out and making the world a bit of your own.