Lisbon, Portugal: Alfama

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Our orange house

Sometimes things just work out. While planning for our trip to Portugal, it can get overwhelming try to decide on where to stay in each city. For Lisbon I had debated between Alfama – the eastern part of the city – or a central neighborhood like Chiado or Baixa. Luckily in the end I chose Alfama! What a romantic, beautiful neighborhood!

Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, filled with old houses and cobblestone roads. What drew me to Alfama was the fact that it’s on the water (so there are many miradouros, or golden views), it’s known for its delicious restaurants, and of course fado!

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Our orange house for the week from a different angle

 

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Alfama

 

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The José Saramago Foundation House, Portuguese writer and recepient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for Literature

For our first lunch in Portugal, we decided to stay closeby the apartment and headed to CervejAlfama. It came highly recommended by our AirBNB host. We knew that for dinner we’d be eating a lot of seafood at Cervejaria Ramiro (so delicious it will have a separate post!), so we ordered the grilled fish platter – delicious! In case you’re curious – cervej/cervejaria is Portuguese for bar/brewery. So of course we enjoyed a local beer (Super Bock) and the local vinho verde wine (green wine)! Vinho verdes are very young wines, so the taste is very fresh and crisp.

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CervejAlfama

 

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Inside

 

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We tried the big, scary one on the right!

 

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Super Bock Bengal Amber IPA from the 1927 collection

 

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Portuguese oysters for me

 

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Fish soup for Koen

 

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Our first vinho verde of the trip

 

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Cheers!

 

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The grilled fish platter: turbot, cod, and a deep sea fish I can’t remember the name of

 

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Delicious!

As I mentioned above, Alfama has two famous miradouros: Nossa Sehore do Monte Belvedere and Portas do Sol. Miradouro literally is Portuguese for Golden View. I love that throughout Portugal all of the best views are easy to find – just luck for the signs for miradouros! You can choose to walk through Alfama or take the Tram 28. Koen and I prefer to explore on foot. Just be prepared for steep walks up hill, but it’s worth it for the views!

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So many steps

 

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In Alfama there are so many beautiful views of the water

 

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Exploring the neighborhood

 

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The famous #28 tram

 

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Arrived at the Nossa Senhore do Monte Belvedere Miradouro, located in a churchyard

 

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View of Castelo de Sao Jorge

 

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Nossa Senhore do Monte Belvedere was my favorite miradouro

 

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On to the next miradouro!

 

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Next miradouro: Portas do Sol

 

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Portas do Sol

 

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So many places for a snack in Alfama, like the Fabrica do Pastel Feijao!

 

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How to eat your sweet bean pastry

 

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Yum!

And of course, if you’re in Alfama, you must go to a fado bar! Fado is part of UNESCO’s World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. To quote Conde Nast Traveler: “Fado (literally: “fate” or “destiny”) is Lisbon’s version of the blues, marked by vocals dripping with heartache accompanied by a Portuguese 12-string guitar. Originating in the streets of the city’s Alfama neighborhood in the 19th century and influenced by Moorish songs, each eruptive ballad evokes the Portuguese emotion of saudade–a yearning or longing for something lost … Lisbon’s more famous fado scene has always been dominated by women. As an homage to the undisputed queen of fado, Amália Rodrigues, most fadistas have traditionally cloaked themselves in a black shawl and donned blood-red lipstick. Planting themselves firmly in front of an attentive crowd, they belt haunting poems of lost sailors, tempestuous passion, and broken hearts, as their voices hover on the break of a sob.” There are many fado bars scattered throughout Alfama. Almost always you need to pay a cover charge, but it’s worht it!

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The Fado Museum in Alfama

 

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Exploring Alfama at night, searching for a fado bar

 

 

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Low lighting in an intimate space for a one of a kind experience

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