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.
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?”
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.