Category Archives: Lisbon

#thegetawayfkaCOMMIT #Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal

After brunch and a browse around the Time Out Market (mostly a food/drink market with a few boutique shops), we took a cab to the Tower of Belém, which, instead of “bell-em,” is pronounced “buh-lime.”

I kept forgetting that I had a mini Polaroid camera (actually, it’s a Fujifilm Instax) and made sure to take a group photo here. As the photo taker was carefully handing me back my camera with the film sticking out, my finger accidentally hit the button and took a second photo. A minute of time revealed a double chin, after which HyeMi suggested that when it finished developing, a third one may appear.

Christina, me, Jenn and HyeMi with Portugal’s Golden Gate Bridge, officially known as Ponte 25 de Abril. The name commemorates the Carnation Revolution in 1974 and the day that the dictatorship, Estado Novo, was overthrown without the usage of violence. During the celebration, soldiers placed carnations in the barrels of their guns.

We then came across the simplest business idea, “wine with a view” – a compact stand dispensing wine, with foldable chairs and blankets situated by the river. Very little overhead involved.

The elaborate Jerónimos Monastery (or Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) and the fountain in Praça do Império in front of it. I didn’t get to check it out this time so, I’ll just have to come back again sometime soon…

Not too far from the monastery is the bakery, Pastéis de Belém, selling the pastel de Belém or pastel de nata (plural: pastéis de nata), an egg custard whose recipe came from the monastery itself. The Liberal Revolution of 1820 resulted in the shutting down of convents and monasteries and, as a result, the monks of this particular monastery sold the pastry at a nearby sugar refinery for money and survival. The same recipe is said to be used today and it’s so worth the wait. The lines can be long but they move pretty quickly and efficiently. You pay, they bag the already boxed treats, you bite into the extremely flaky and warm center treat, and you say “OMG,” all in that assembly line-esque manner. (That fish plate was in our lodging.)

Travel tip: We bought several packages (6 to a box) the day before we were flying out. Two of us put it in the fridge and 2 of us left it in a cool room temperature overnight. The pastries traveled well and after several days in the fridge at home and a slow heating in the oven, they still were fresh and crispy.


For dinner, we hit up a seafood restaurant that João had recommended – Cervejaria Ramiro. I knew this was the place to go to when the cab driver said “Good! Good!” with a thumbs up after I had told him where we were going. Even the cab driver for the ride back asked, “Did you girls just come from Ramiro? Very good, isn’t it?”

Jenn: “So, what do you recommend? What do most people order?”
Waiter: “Shrimp in garlic sauce, clams, tiger prawns, scarlet shrimp, rock lobster.”
Jenn: “Um, so we’ll take all of that.”
Waiter: “How many tiger prawns and scarlet shrimp?”
Us: “Um, 4 each? Is that enough food.”
Waiter: “Woooo yes…”

We should’ve known to cut it down when he made a face.

Waiter: “To drink?”
Us: “We’ll have the Sagres beer.”
Waiter: “Pidyo?? Pidyo??”
Us: “Uhhh…yes, pitcher?”
Waiter (smiles): “Pidyo!”

Me: “Uh, guys, I don’t think he said ‘pitcher.’ I remembered that ‘pidyo’ in Chinese meant ‘beer.’ He thinks we’re Chinese.”

It didn’t help that the table next to us had English-speaking Chinese (possibly Americans) who egged him on and excitedly shouted “PIDYO!!!” The waiter then came back to show us the rock lobster (pictured above) after fighting it out of the nearby tank.

Us: “Ooooo good! good!”

When we later got the bill, we saw that the rock lobster had cost us EUR 160. It didn’t occur to us that he came to show us the rock lobster not so that we could ogle at it, but to make sure we were okay with the size of it. Oops.

Travel tip: Skip the tiger prawns, but order everything else. Even the rock lobster. Also, try to make reservations. We made a 7pm reservation (which is considered early), and there was already a line of people who hadn’t made one. There were still empty tables inside but most seemed reserved.

#thegetawayfkaCOMMIT Portugal ed.

Some time in 2015, my friend Jenn had heard about an idea that her friend had been doing for a few years now. It was a trip with some close girlfriends planned entirely in secret by one chosen girl. The time of year, number of days, and budget were all agreed upon in advance and the location was not to be revealed until arrival at the airport. They called it The Great Escape.

So, after our Iceland trip, Jenn, Christina, HyeMi and I agreed to do the same. But, after having already stolen the idea, we couldn’t also steal the great name. Our placeholder became COMMIT, written in all caps. It sounded ridiculous but, it may have pushed us all the more to do just that. Commit, in all its abruptness and command. After a year, we finally settled on the more appealing The Getaway with the appendage “fka COMMIT” so that we would never forget.

Jenn, as the first planner of the trip, handed us wrapped packages in the cab en route to Newark. We ripped it open to reveal a passport holder and guide book to…[cue in squealing]

Lisbon (Lisboa), Portugal

Our 7 hr flight, 5 hours forward in time, and almost 2 hr waiting at passport control were justified by the beautiful 60°F degree weather. We were lucky to get an early check-in at our “hotel” and opened the door to find our dream apartment, complete with dream balconies and dream views. For anyone staying in Lisbon for a few days, I highly recommend staying at Edifício Ex Libris which is like a glorified Airbnb since someone comes in everyday and cleans the apartment.

The view from our front balcony started our love affair with building facades and our hobby of taking photos of it. I know, super exciting times.

Exhibit B.

A Streetcar Named “F.U.”

Lisbon reminded me a lot of Madrid, except smaller with trams, more modern, and almost everyone spoke English without making you feel guilty for not knowing Portuguese. Passing through certain neighborhoods or alleyways easily gave me flashbacks of specific areas in Madrid. The fact that some Spanish friends messaged me while I was here even confused me as to which year it really was. Unfortunately, it really is 2017 and Trump is actually president. To the other girls, Lisbon was like San Francisco. Lots of hills, trams, warm yet sometimes chilly weather, and a bridge reminiscent of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We took Tram No. 28 from Praça Luís de Camões, got off too early, and stumbled upon Miradouro de Santa Luzia, a viewpoint in Alfama that revealed amazing views of the city that only got better which each subsequent place we visited. There was also beautiful tile work that depicted Praça do Comércio before the earthquake of 1755.

Travel tip: We were able to pay on the tram. It was about EUR 2.90 per person.

Further up was another viewpoint at Largo das Portas do Sol.

Voila! From here, Jenn was able to negotiate a tuk tuk ride to Elevador de Santa Justa from EUR 5 pp to EUR 4 pp. The guy didn’t put up much of a fight. He then gave us somewhat of a tour as he drove us to the elevator, and even suggested that he drive us to the top where we can access the viewpoint via a walking bridge, thereby bypassing the elevator ride and skipping the likely long lines at the bottom. Perhaps he deserved the extra euro per person.

From the walking bridge, we paid EUR 1.50 pp to walk up some stairs towards this view of the city with Castelo de São Jorge in the distance and River Tagus (Tejo) to the right.

And, a view of Igreja do Carmo (or what’s remaining of the church after the earthquake) and Praça Dom Pedro IV, also known as Rossio Square.

We overloaded on textiles, soaps (had no idea this was a thing here), cans of pâté, and pine cone ceramics, all in one store – A Vida Portuguesa. Then we took a band album photo while eating candied walnuts by the storefront.

Later, we chilled at our apartment before heading out to dinner which we had around 7pm every night. (And, by the way, at 7pm, we pretty much opened up every restaurant because 10pm appears to be standard dinner time.) We debated on a good hashtag to use for all “The Getaway” trips and also one to use for each individual trip. Given that all we could think of for a whole year for a trip name was COMMIT, our creativity with hashtags was no different.

Me: “So, let’s use #TheGetawayfkaCOMMIT for the main hashtag and…#PortuGals” for this trip?”

[Immediate scoffing.]

HyeMi: “How about…#TheGetaway2017 or #TheGetawayPortugal?”
Me: “Nooo, we need to be more creative. Although, didn’t we use #NYUgnomes for our Iceland trip? Should we just use that to group all the trip photos together into one hashtag?”
Jenn: “No. That one’s done and dusted.”
HyeMi: “#PortugueseGnomes? #Portugal2017?”
Me: “Wait, did you say ‘done and dusted’ or ‘dumb and dusted’ because both of those work.”

[HyeMi tries to use #dumbanddusted. It survives only one post.]

HyeMi: “Let me see what ‘getaway’ translates into in Portuguese. It says ‘cai fora.’ So, #CaiFora2017? Wait a minute…’cai fora’ actually means ‘get out!’ Ugh, I’m just going to translate ‘vacation’ into Portuguese. #ferias2017.”

That, too, survived only one post. In the end, we just went with #TheGetawayPortugal. Whomp whomp.

And, exhibit C.

Travel tip: Grab breakfast at Tartine, lunch with a view at Pharmacia and/or IBO Restaurant (Mozambique fusion), and dinner at Cervejaria Ramiro (make reservations in advance) and anything owned by José Avillez (Mini Bar Teatro, Cantinho do Avillez, Bairro do Avillez). At Mini Bar, try the secret “Epic Menu.” The cocktails (similar across the restaurants) were probably the best I ever had, particularly the Primo Basilico.