Last month we were lucky enough to visit Portugal for the second time as a couple (See: Paradise in Portugal) this time visiting Lisbon, Portugal’s hilly, coastal capital city and the largest city of Portugal. Portugal’s capital is bursting with culture and great places to eat, stay and party – and it’s the cheapest city break destination in western Europe.
Although our stay was short, 3 days and 2 nights to be exact, we managed to have a jam packed time of exploring some of the beautiful sights and experiences Lisbon has to offer. The biggest part of this mini adventure was getting to experience our first festival abroad together and I can honestly say, that it has been a game changer! Nos Alive Festival is certainly one to make note of!
Our Accommodation: Solplay Hotel de Apartmentos
The main aim of our trip was the attend the Nos Alive! Festival for a day (Arctic Monkeys & Nine Inch Nails…need I say more?) so due to not staying for the entirety of the festival, as we wanted to explore the city before returning home, we decided to opt for a hotel as close as possible to the festival grounds.
We cannot recommend the Solplay Hotel de Apartmentos enough for their location, staff hospitality, service and venue. All were an absolute dream, from the spacious apartments at a reasonable price, delicious food on offer in the restaurant, friendly and entertaining bar staff as well as the marvelous addition of a free shuttle bus to and from the festival itself. We really did get so lucky, it was an absolute fluke but we were eternally grateful for it!
Views from the hotel take in the river Tejo, the Monsanto Park and Sintra area. The Hotel Solplay, has been conceived as a home away from home: comfortable apartments sleeping one to six persons with a complete range of facilities including hotel restaurant, bar and outside pool bar, indoor swimming pool and sauna as well as tennis courts and gardens.
We ate at the restaurant for an evening meal on the first night to settle ourselves in before our first big day exploring and the food was exceptional! I’ve never had a tastier 3 course meal and it was excellent value for money. On top of this, my strict diet and allergies were really well catered to by staff and I had absolutely no issues arising from our meal.
‘Pratu’s Restaurant’ based in the hotel, boasts an original, innovative and eclectic menu by their Chef Jose Luis Diniz. The mix of ingredients with famous Portuguese dishes results in unique flavours. Inspired by Tejo river and its Portuguese explorers that discovered many of their spices, Pratu’s is a gastronomic concept based on traditional tastes. Stating that they use nothing but Portuguese ingredients, not only for their excellent characteristics but for how they expertly combine them.
To begin with we shared a smoked salmon salad mixed with feta cheese and walnuts which was very tasty as far as salads go, but for me the main course was the star of the show. I chose to go with the pork belly which came with pok choi and sugar snap peas and a mouth watering apple and spiced sauce, such a hearty portion also so great value for money! I would highly recommend that for your main choice, especially to those of us who have dietary issues as they edited the main to fit within my needs – very attentive staff! And then finally I rounded off dessert with a wonderful pavlova/meringue and blue berry dessert, both dairy and gluten free which was phenomenal!
Nos Alive Festival 2018
NOS Alive (formerly Optimus Alive!) is a music and arts festival which takes place in the Algés riverside, in Oeiras, Portugal. Despite its recent creation, the festival has achieved considerable popularity both inside and outside of Portugal, with the UK magazine NME placing in one of the top 12 European festivals in 2009.
This was our first ever festival abroad as a couple and although we had our anxieties before we left as we were going in blind, it ended up being one of the best experiences! It has totally opened our eyes up to a new world of festivals abroad. We are already avid UK festival goers (in fact it’s part of the reason we met in the first place), but this has given us so many more options for the future!
All things bright and beautiful with this festival, a colourful and welcoming venue and for the first time ever I managed to attend a festival without the use of wellies! Not only down to the lovely sunshine that we had on the day, but also in part down to the synthetic grass that is used all across the site – thankfully not a puddle or bit of mud in sight!
We spent time after arriving just getting our bearings and walking around the entire venue – it catered to a mass number of people really well without creating a trek between the stages which is brilliant for when it came to moving around after each performance. There was also ample amounts of bars and food kiosks available for reasonable prices and around the main stage there were plenty of entertainment pods selling clothing, DJ-ing, playing games, festival makeup as well as a tattoo shop! (that’s a first).
Most of all I was impressed by them managing to cater to the gluten free, lacto free and vegan crowds at the festival – another first for me as an avid festival attender. It was not only tasty but also reasonable priced! I highly recommend the Portugese Codfish Croquettes at just 1 Euro 50!! Amazing value for money, although you will need more than the one to keep you going!
On top of being a great music festival, it also catered to the crowds who wanted a little more such as the comedy tent further into the festival. The further that you walk around this festival you will find so many details hidden away in every nook and cranny, even well into the evening / morning (the festival takes place from 5pm through to 3/4am).
Nos Alive! Festival really was a magical experience, combining all of the best qualities of care-free summer experiences abroad into one music and arts festival. The location, the sunshine, the mild summer evenings, sweet cider kisses, neon lights and live music thrumming in your chest. It really can’t quite be beat and I know for sure we will definitely be revisiting this wonderful festival in the future.
Love for Lisboa
During our second (before Nos Alive! in the evening) and third day, we did our utmost to venture out of the hotel and experience what Lisbon had to offer us. We had already fallen for Portugal once before when visiting Albufeira, and this trip has only extended the love affair by allowing us to see a whole new side to what this wonderful country has to give.
As always with any flying visit, we made the most by paying for a hop on hop of tour bus circling around the city – I always recommend doing this as it allows for you to get your bearings of a new city, learning about some of its history as well as getting a small taste of any areas you want to hop off and venture around. No more than 10 minutes in we has already found a scenic landscape that we wanted to hop out and vue.
Admittedly I still don’t know what this part of Lisbon is referred to, other than that ‘pretty hilly bit’ as I was so excited by the view that I practically flung myself off the top deck of the open topper bus we were on! This is why Rich should be my chaperone always of course. Either way whatever its given name is, it’s a stunning sight and one that I was happy to have had the chance to see!
Praca do Comercio (Terreiro do Paco) and Rua Augusta
Following on from this, we decided to carry on down the hill through the streets filled with bars, cafes, restaurants and shops down towards the Praca do Comercio (Terreiro do Paco) which is a beautifully impressive looking square with connecting archway near to the Rua Augusta area. On our way we even managed to pass by the famous Lisbon metro line, which I’m gutted we didn’t get to ride on this occasion (but is already on our list for next time). I highly recommend visiting this area for the sights, as well as the location as it is a great starting point for adventuring the city.
25 de Abril Bridge
A short walk away we came across the Tagus River in Lisbon, this seemed to be quite a popular spot for families with children wanting to play near the water. Although we didn’t walk the stretch of it as we knew we needed to get back and changed for the festival, we did however manage to get a snap shot of the 25 de Abril Bridge, which we later passed in an Uber on the way to the festival. There are also several other attractions along this strip of river which we hope to venture more freely when we come to visit again on our next visit.
Time Out Market Lisboa
We finished off our flying visit with a spot of lunch at the Time Out Market Lisboa. The Time Out Market is a food hall located in the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre in Lisbon, Portugal. It opened in May 2014, and is the first of several planned food hall ventures for Time Out. This Lisbon market has 35 kiosks selling regional specialities, such as Azeitão sheep’s cheese, Alentejo ham, custard tarts from cafe Aloma, sardines, wines and chocolates. Five top chefs have restaurants here. The original fish, fruit and vegetable market stalls occupy the other half of the landmark building.
During our visit here, it was clear to see that it is an extremely popular spot for locals during their lunch breaks. There were so many wonderful stalls to choose from, the room smelt amazing and the crowds were absolutely heaving, but even despite not being able to find two seats together and having to stand and eat, it is most definitely worth this visit if you are in the area!
I opted for the GF Portuguese Haddock Fishcake with poached egg and potato which was ridiculously tasty!! I only wish we could have stayed longer and sampled everything that was on offer! But that could be said for the entirety for our trip in beautiful Lisboa, it was musical, colourful, a sight for sore eyes and a treat for the taste buds, leaving you wanting more…a month later and we are still talking about our time there. Lisbon we love you, we couldn’t recommend you enough and we hope to see you again very soon…
Until next time,