Easter in Lisbon

Over Easter weekend, I joined a bunch of 20 & 30 something’s in Lisbon, Portugal. We were eager to enjoy some warmer weather and lucky for us, we were greeted with sun and blue skies. We stayed at Lost Lisbon, a beautifully decorated 12-bedroom guesthouse located in the city center. Being that the city is extremely walkable, we took advantage of exploring the city by foot and were rewarded with breathtaking views. I particularly appreciated the oldest district of Lisbon, the Alfama quarter, a maze of steep and narrow cobblestoned streets, nestled between tiled houses that date as far back as the 11th century.

We made our way up to Castle of St. George, a fortress high above the city that offers beautiful, panoramic views of the city and to our surprise, home to a family of peacocks. The park’s lush trees offered us some shade, which we appreciated after the uphill trek. On our walk back down, we popped into a few shops selling hand painted tiles. In true French fashion, we couldn’t resist bringing home a hand-crafted wine cork stopper.

With the train easily accessible from the house, we took the opportunity on Sunday to take a day trip to the beach. A 40-minute ride brought us to Cascais, where we had lunch by the water and basked in the sun. The water was cold but with the beating sun (the culprit of Tom’s serious sunburn), it was particularly refreshing.

When we weren’t busy exploring, we were on the hunt for local eats. With my sweet tooth, I was pleased to try the traditional custard tart (Pastél de Nata) and an enormous nut scone from the bakery. Perhaps we’ve become spoiled by French cuisine, but we found our other meals to be particularly greasy and fried, ruining the freshness of otherwise very good, local ingredients and produce. Fortunately, I discovered the Strawberry Caipiroska cocktail, a twist on the Brazilian classic, made with vodka and strawberry puree. Turns out it makes anything good.


Santa Justa Lift, an antique elevator in downtown Lisbon

Santa Justa Lift, an antique elevator in downtown Lisbon

Rossio Square, downtown Lisbon

Rossio Square, downtown Lisbon

Rossio Square fountain

Rossio Square fountain

View from Castle of St. George

View from Castle of St. George

City tramway

City tramway

Rua Augusta, Lisbon's main shopping & pedestrian street

Rua Augusta, Lisbon's main shopping & pedestrian street

 Rua Augusta Arch in Commerce Square / also referred as Palace Square (Terreiro de Paço)

 Rua Augusta Arch in Commerce Square / also referred as Palace Square (Terreiro de Paço)

Statue of King José I (and Strawberry Caipiroska) 

Statue of King José I (and Strawberry Caipiroska) 

Alsace in the Fall

I hopped on the train last weekend to go to my dad’s in Alsace, which is located in eastern France just along the German border. The TGV gets me there in under two and half hours so it makes for a great weekend trip. Historically, the region was passed back and forth under French and German control, which has resulted in an interesting blend of French and German culture, as represented by the spoken languages, cuisine and architecture. Although Alsatian was the traditional language (a German dialect), the official language today is French and most commonly spoken. Being that Alsace is a huge wine-producing region (especially known for its Rieslings and Gewürztraminer), I was really looking forward to seeing the vineyards in full foliage. It’s safe to say I wasn’t let down – rich, vibrant colors in soft contrast with rolling hills created an incredible scenery. The best part about it is that we didn’t have to go very far, as the vineyards are honestly everywhere. A simple car ride to the boulangerie merited leaving my phone at home so as to not be distracted and risk missing any of the beautiful landscapes. To make the weekend that much better before taking the train back on Sunday, we made hazelnut-praline tarts with apples fresh from the apple tree. And yes, it was accompanied with wine.