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It's girls' time! A fun day in Lisbon: Baixa

08/03/2017

When I first came to Lisbon I was living with one of my best-friends to be (we had just met at the time) and we were having so much fun together. We were out and about every moment we had the chance to experience this magical city and living some of the best months in our lives. Because Lisbon is not just the "city of lights". It is so much more. It's colourful and happy, and dreamy and kind of melancholic. May be fado is the reason for the last one but still, it's part of it and makes it unique. When Lisbon was first presented to me five years ago, I immediately fell in love with it. A sky so blue I've never seen before, contrasting with the warm-red roofs and pink sunsets all year round. I had the opportunity to be a tourist first, in a city I chose to live in later. 

But as the company I was discovering the city was as special as the experience itself, and because girls' friendship is super important and to be valued (no matter age or distance), here starts a series of publications What you can do in Lisbon with your bestie. Or, with your man, of course! There is no discrimination here.

So, are you ready to get inspired about Lisbon?

It doesn't really matter if you decide to visit Lisbon in summer or winter - the unusually blue sky and sun will warmly welcome you. Well, in winter there is a slight change for rain but it's quite rare.

Baixa (in translation "low") is actually Lisbon's downtown. There are so many things to do and see, it's difficult to choose a starting point. So, get some comfy shoes (Lisbon's cobblestone sidewalks are very beautiful, but not so high-hills-friendly) and dive into exploring. 

Here is a suggestion where to start - Eduardo VII Park. It's located on a hill very close to the main roundabout at Marques de Pombal monument (and a metro station with the same name). The view over the city from the upper side of the park is really nice, so don't be lazy and get to the very top. From there the walk will be going all down to the riverside.

Liberty Avenue and Castilho street nearby are where you would want to spend all your money - most top brands presented in Portugal have their shops here, so be careful. Liberty Avenue is the one leading from Marques de Pombal monument to Lisbon's main square - D. Pedro IV, more famous as Rossio. On your way don't miss the small kiosk-bars open all year long. Sometimes they also have live music.

When reaching Restauradores Square check the "Gloria Elevator". It is actually a tram going up the hill, connecting the neighbourhoods of Baixa and Bairro Alto (the "High Neighbourhood"). As the city of Lisbon is located on seven hills, there are several "elevators" spread around. 

In case you want to take a leap and experience the tram trip, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view over the city, and mostly to St. George castle and Lisbon's picturesque neighbourhood Alfama.

Just before arriving at D. Pedro IV Square check out the Rossio railway station - a gorgeous building from 1890 in Manueline style (also known as Late Portuguese Gothic).

In front of the railway station is the stunning building of the National Theatre Dona Maria II and in front of it - Rossio Square with its perfect wave-shaped white and black cobblestone. Old lisboetas (Lisbon's citizens) say that this is where the city centre starts.

Continue on Augusta street (the traffic-free one) or if it's too crowded for you, take any parallel one. Here small restaurants and shops (big brands or small, traditional ones) are everywhere. On Augusta street there are several old houses offering high quality textiles. Stop by the wooden window at any of them and appreciate the luxurious handmade lace and silk. Close to the corner of Prata str. and Conceição str. is the entrance of the roman underground galleries. Unfortunately, they open to public only once per year for only three days. Almost reaching the Arc, at the end of Rua Augusta is MUDE - the museum of design and fashion. The expositions represent well the evolution in interior design and fashion in Europe, so it's a really great place to spend some time with your gal, gossiping on past trends and what might actually come back.

The Commerce Square is just after the Arc. Cross it all and get to the Column Pier. This is where in times of great discoveries, the boats have been leaving the city. And also where they have been arriving. Now, in that area leaves the ferry to the town of Barreiro.

Have lunch at a restaurant around the square. Light meal at the sun, with a glass of sangria or a great wine... Yes, this is the perfect Lisbon lunch for me.

Oh, and check the "Sexiest WC", located at a square's corner. It's super cool and creative.

After lunch don't miss to get at the top of the Arc. Don't worry if you are a bit tipsy from the wine - there is an elevator. Go up close to a full hour and wait for the clock's bell to ring before you get outside - clock's mechanism is the very original one from 1941 and it's quite interesting watching it move. Also you wouldn't want to be next to the huge bell while it rings, specially if you are quite cheerful from the wine at lunch ;-)

Now, as the bell is not ringing anymore, take the tiny, spiral stairs to the top, open-air terrace of the Arc. The 360* panorama of Lisbon is in front of you. The river is reflecting the sun, at the square and streets down the fast city life is running... And up there... It feels like time has stopped.

After the timeless experience at the Arc's terrace go back to Lisbon's reality but run away from all the people in a rush. Cross the square again and take a laid-back riverside stroll in direction to Cais do Sodré. On your way sit on a deck chair at a kiosk-bar, drink a coffee complemented by "pastel de nata" and enjoy the sun. The view to "April 25th" bridge and the statue of Jesus Christ on the other side of the river are just another extra.

Close to Cais do Sodré there are several options to have dinner - portuguese, mexican and japanese restaurants are everywhere. A cool place to find all the variety is Ribeira Market. It still functions as a traditional market during the day, but it's open until late at night with a big hall, housing a lot of different great-quality, fast-food restaurants. It is not a fancy place, however, it is a great budget-friendly option for dining before hitting the nightlife. If you are in a mood for some place fancy, head directly to Palácio do Chiado (Rua de Alecrim 70). You can have dinner here, or choose from the great options for pre-party drinks. And if you still haven't felt special today, the place will make you feel like a real princess, as it's a former palace, with gorgeous frescos, built in 1781.

Here you can find more restaurant recommendations.

Pink Street is very close to both locations. Well, the official name is Nova de Carvalho street, but since a couple of years ago its floor was painted in pink, everybody calls and knows it as Pink Street. The area is full with historic bars, some of them named after european capitals. Others are tiny strip-clubs with over-40s strippers. But Lisbon's nightlife is happening directly on the streets. 

At the beginning I was shocked, because streets are full of people all night, even in winter. But it's nice actually. And different from the nightlife I was used to. In a good way. Have in mind that all bars in the area (except for the ones that open only for after-party, around 6 a.m.) close between 2-3 a.m. So, don't miss the opportunity to get on time inside a club called Pensão Amor. The interior represents a vintage brothel, with an erotic library and a DJ-lady who might be the same age as your grandmother. Don't judge! Just enjoy its uniqueness.

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