Okay, as wandering in Western Europe goes, things can be hit or miss.
We are all faced with the conundrum, in the eternal search for authentic travel experiences, but swamped with tens of thousands of tourists all clamoring after the same thing. Countless assholes all seeking that perfect instagram shot as if they weren’t actually there if the ‘gram doesn’t document it. (Of course, I am personally guilty of posting semi regularly to the platform, I have also been one of said assholes). Between the crowds and the queues…the inflated prices and the hawkers one can quickly find a creeping sickening feeling of “what am I doing here”?
There is a oft bantered phrase of many a guidebook promising “off the beaten path” travel, which in essence doesn’t really mean anything. The term is 1000% subjective. For some you will need to discover a rare cannibal tribe on an uncharted island to check the “off the beaten path” box. For others, a new menu item at a foreign McDonald’s is exotic enough. For this entry I am going to go with the perfect blend. Portugal.
Specifically this go round, the capitol of Lisbon. Now as I write this everyone and their mother is talking about Portugal. Once thought of as
“Europe’s best kept secret” the post covid landscape has ushered this small, affordable yet world class country into the proverbial lime light.
Lisbon has the goods. That euro magic you’re looking for with the quant cafe and friendly shopkeepers, the tile/Cobble stone walkways and the abundance of 18th century architecture, cathedrals and all the rest…it’s here. The prices are great if coming from the midwestern USA, the flight is easy and the weather is damn near perfect.
Here in mid January Lisbon is bright and brisk which is perfect walking weather… complete with actual sunshine! The best way to explore the city proves on foot over a week or so for the first visit. I’ve come back now a few times and this city grows on me every time. The food is clean, the ocean is never far, and the cafes always invite a smile.
Hotels and apartments can be had in the center for $75-125 USD as of this writing which makes Lisbon extremely competitive on the euro capital scene. With a smattering of new visa options, Portugal has become of keen interest for Americans looking to retire abroad. I keep visiting as I’m strongly considering this option. If given a week to spend in Europe, Lisbon is easily in my top five for capitol cities. I have a feeling I will keep coming back here although as it becomes more popular through posts like this I will invariably move on. I’m okay with this as travel is inherently cyclical, and Lisbon (as well as Portugal as a whole) deserves it’s day.
This year will be one of adventure. For once this is a dispatch not from Colombia (don’t worry ill be there in a few weeks). Lisbon has proven to be an ideal location to begin this first full year away from the classroom and on the road. Next up I’m making my return to Florence, which I’ve been eager to get back to now for years. Have you been to Portugal? What did you think? Could you imagine retiring here? Please let us know in the comments.