Lisbon Confidential: Lily from

by Lisbon Apartments on June 18, 2009

Lisbon Confidential is a series of interviews with people who know and love Lisbon. In this section we share their insider tips, favourite places in the city, and “hidden gems” of Lisbon. We ask the same 10 questions to each interviewee and publish their answers verbatim. Should you wish to suggest somebody for this interview, please contact us.

Lily from

Lily from

Today’s Lisbon Confidential interview is with Lily from, a blog about Lisbon and, in her own words, “one woman’s love affair with the beautiful city and the land of Portugal”. So, read on to find out what it is Lily loves about Lisbon:

1. What’s your connection with Lisbon?

I met a Portuguese man and fell in love. I didn’t know anything about Lisbon until then. The stories he told me about his country of origin and Lisbon together with the beautiful language and the mysterious ‘saudade’ all made me yearn to see it for myself. When I first visited I felt like I was coming home. Upon my return to England I started In Love With Lisbon because I felt that everyone should know about this wonderful city. I’ve been learning Portuguese ever since.

2. Why should a tourist visit Lisbon, in your opinion?

Lisbon is such a beautiful city full of history and picturesque scenery. Nearby beaches, bars, the glorious river, quiet coffee shops, chic shopping and so many musems and places of interest to visit. The Portuguese people are also warm and welcoming. Whilst tourism has definately increased, it still seems to be a less visited place than many of the other more familiar European cities so it retains it’s distinct charm and remains true to itself.

3. Your favourite Lisbon museum, sight or attraction?

The gothic ruins of Convento do Carmo. It’s unbelievably peaceful and strangely eerie. I also love the Discoveries Monument which honours those who sailed across the oceans to discover new lands.  For me, just to see the glittering river and the light that floods Praça do Comércio is a unique Lisbon experience.

4. Do you have a favourite restaurant? If so, why?

Os Tibetanos is a lovely vegetarian restaurant. Wholesome food for a good price with friendly staff. They have a lovely garden outside where you can sit and eat as well.

5. A favourite bar or cafeteria?

When I first arrive in Lisbon I make my way to Miradouro das Portas do Sol for a coffee. There’s a little kiosk cafe at the top of the miradouro which probably has one of the best views in Lisbon. I love to just sit and gaze out over the Tejo. Pois cafe behind the Sé is definately worth finding. It’s quirky, chilled out and the staff and clientele are friendly. They also make a great galão! Lastly Kaffeehaus in Chiado is perfect for a lunchtime break. The staff here are also very friendly and the decor is minimal and relaxing.

6. What is your favourite district of the city and why?

I love Alfama for the labyrinth-like streets, ancient passageways and traditional architecture. This is where you will find many of your typical Lisbon picture postcard scenes. It survived the great earthquake in 1755 so wandering through here is like going back in time.

7. Recommend a good night out in Lisbon.

I’m more of early morning bird myself but I think a night in a traditional Fado bar is a must.

8. Tell us your favourite, interesting or unusual Portuguese saying or phrase, and its meaning.

I can’t think of a phrase right now but ‘borboleta’ is my favourite word in Portuguese. It means butterfly.

9. Given the chance, what would you do to improve Lisbon?

Lisbon is an irregular city, which although this is part of its charm, getting around can be a bit of a challenge. It takes time to cover places and the walk can be very steep and uncomfortable.
I would only improve the access to places, introducing more ecologic means of transport to allow visitors to access places more easily and with silent vehicles to preserve the surroundings and truly enjoy the magic tranquility of Lisbon Historical quarters.
With Red Tour we tried to the introduce modern and fun ways of visiting the city, using ecologic vehicles (Segways and buggies) to help travelers to get closer to the sights than a bus would, such as narrow streets and other hidden gems.

There’s a lot of buildings in Lisbon that are very run down but in many ways this is part of Lisbon’s charm. There are no pretences. Lisbon was once a great sea-faring capital and it’s history is evident all around even though in places it’s a little faded. I would love to see some gentle renovation – mostly getting rid of graffiti.

10. Lastly, do you have any insider tips, a hidden gem or little known aspect of Lisbon you can let our readers know about? Or simply a last word of advice for visitors to Lisbon.

The best way to enjoy Lisbon is to let it open up to you like a flower. It is a place that inspires poetry, literature, art, music and romance. You need to walk her streets slowly savouring the scent of good coffee and listening to the sound of fado in the air. Remember to look down at the mosaic pavements (calçadas) and up at the wonderful decorative tiles on buildings and walls (azulejos). Make sure you visit a miradouro (a viewpoint) and allow yourself to be seduced by history and become lost in Alfama.  Lisbon has many wonderful attractions and tourist hotspots but you will discover so much more if you allow yourself some time to just see where your feet take you.

Thanks, Lily, for sharing your passion for Lisbon with us – it truly is a love affair you’ve got going there! Our next guest to be interviewed for this Lisbon Confidential series will be Nathalie Costa, manager of the famous Olivier Restaurant.

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