Last week I took off down to Lisbon, Portugal. I spent most of our days romping about the city on bikes, drinking beers and soaking up the glorious sunshine. It took just a matter of hours before I was in love with the city. Here's why:
1.Lisbon is life-sized
Lisbon's streets, buildings and squares have been built at a human-scale. And because of that, the entire city feels intimate. Its parks and squares are bustling with people, small bars and cafes flow out onto the busy streets, and the miniature laneways of the Alfama neighbourhood are full of people - young and old - chatting and hanging out. Forget huge shopping centres, oversized buildings and massive car parks, Lisbon is a life-sized city where people interact.
2. It's colourful
There's no doubt that a lot of cities around the world are a bit - well - grey. Take my city of London for example. It's a great place to live, but weeks on end of men in grey suits, surrounded by grey skies and grey buildings, can begin to get you down.
As my plane descended through the bright blue skies into Lisbon, I saw a city of reds, blues and yellows below. Exploring its streets, everything seemed to be splashed with colour. People's clothes, the building facades, and even the cars were bright and colourful. On top of that, there was loads of awesome street art spread right across the city for constant visual stimulation.
3. Getting around is easy
One of the best things about a small city is that there is little need to drive a car. And not only is Lisbon small, but it's filled with huge sidewalks and beautiful public spaces, bike paths, a underground metro and even a cool little tram network.
Local guide Jorge told me, "in the last few years so many people are riding push bikes. We still have some traffic problems but its getting so much better". Looking around, it was easy to see why. The government is spending tonnes of money into building segregated bike paths across the city and improving public spaces along main roads to encourage people to get out of their cars.
4. The food is amazing
Man, I loved Portuguese food! Tapas, seafood, Enchidos, beer and wine. Just about everything I ate in Lisbon was amazing. But it's not just what Lisboeta's (yep - that's what someone from Lisbon is called!) eat, but its where they eat. Amazing little tapas bars line the street, and hot nuts are cooked up on sidewalks. If you feel like a nibble, its super easy to grab a small cheese and bread snack. There are loads of awesome Portuguese dishes - but make sure you try a Francesinha, Portugese Steak or the local shellfish.
5. The locals love their city
You know a city is good when the locals themselves rave about it. From day one in Lisbon, everyone I met had such an awesome love for their city. From random old people telling me about the history of a place, or local dudes giving me a mini tour guide of their neighbourhood, the passion that people had for their town gave the whole trip such an amazing vibe.
Have you been to Lisbon? What did you love about it?