There's a famous Portuguese song by songstress extraordinaire, Amalia Rodigues, that goes: "Cheira bem, cheira a Lisboa" (It smells good, it smells like Lisbon)... hmm maybe it loses some of its poetry in English. But if you were to ask Amalia why Lisbon smells so good, she would tell you that it's because it smells of flowers and the ocean. Ah, now that's better.
My parents also took us to see the Expo site. Expo had happened the previous year and there didn't seem to be too much going on there at the time we were there, but we did get to go to the aquarium. I love aquariums and the penguin enclosure in this one was especially memorable. It was a fun time indeed. And it was nice and cool in the aquarium which was a much needed reprieve from the summer heat.
It wasn't until eight years later that I returned to Lisbon. Now an adult travelling with my sister and my cousin, Lisbon looked and felt different. The buildings were still beautiful and the streets were still bustling, but I felt more at ease, like a calm had extended over the city somehow. Probably a symptom of my own maturity, but in any case, I was ready to see Lisbon through different eyes.
We started our trip with a couple of days in the town of Sintra, just a short train ride from Lisbon. Sintra is often referred to as the "birthplace of Portugal". It's a small town with little to do but sight see, but the sights are well worth seeing. I think the three of us would have voted the Regaleira as having the most enchanting gardens. It had fountains, small stone pathways, big archways and secret passageways. And come on, who doesn't love a secret passageway? We could have wandered these gardens all day making up stories about what could have happened in those hidden spaces. Stories of romance, espionage, treason; the possibilities were endless.
What to drink:
As with most of Portugal there is no shortage of wine and the local beers Sagres and Super Bock are pretty tasty too.
A ginginha is the local liquer. You drink it out of a small glass and there's a small stand next to the Rossio square where you can stop by for a taste. (Personally, I think it tastes like cough syrup, but travel should be about trying new things, so bottoms up!)
Where to stay:
The Rossio hostel: http://www.rossiohostel.com
It's clean, convenient and the ladies who make breakfast are really sweet.