Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

There were days that I just couldn’t wait to get out and explore, then there were others I felt pretty happy resting enjoying our apartment or spending hours at a cafe. This day I felt pretty content enjoying our lovely space in Lisbon, which honestly do you blame me? Breakfast each morning was something I looked forward to.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

We would open the windows and let the morning light stream in. The sounds of the street became the soundtrack to our coffee sipping. The air was cool and scented with the morning ocean breeze. It was pretty magical.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

The space had 2 bedrooms in the back and 2 bathrooms so it gave us plenty of room to spread out as couples. I highly suggest renting this space if you are coming to Lisbon and either have a family or if you are traveling with another couple or with friends. We enjoyed every morning and evening in this space so much.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

Even though we loved our apartment, we still need to explore beyond the doors of our building. On our second full day in Lisbon the sun was shining, and everything just felt alive. It was pretty warm so we felt it was time to get some focused sight seeing in.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

We had read about the Feira Da Ladra flea market on the east side of the city, by the Alfama district and had to check it out. This was also the perfect opportunity to catch one of the gorgeous trams across town. Easily the most Wes Anderson moment of our trip.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

As I mentioned previously the trams were pretty adorable and each one is slightly different. Some have graffiti painting, tile work, and different colored paint. You never knew which one was going to roll by while you were on the street.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

After our 30 minute tram ride up and down the hand laid stone streets, we hopped off at the market right by the National Pantheon, which is pretty amazing itself! We took some time to breathe in the view and then began a slowly wander through the market.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

There were tons of treasures (also tons of junk as well) to sift through. The old books, leather goods, and other fun things against the tiled buildings of Lisbon was so gorgeous.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

I think my favorite thing about the market was seeing the remnants of old Lisbon. The collected treasures from older and more wealthy times in this ancient city. I feel like you really get to know the real character and history of a city by visiting it’s antique stores and markets. It feels like a more organic, non-scripted form of the city’s history.

Lisbon_Portugal_06

After we wandered for a few hours, we were pretty ready for lunch. We had already made plans to have our big blow out dinner that night at a Michelin star restaurant, so we wanted to do something simple and cheaper so we didn’t fill up too much.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

So we put the trip advisor app away and asked the locals. We wandered the streets looking for a small hole in the wall restaurant that was recommended to us by a vendor in the market, would be serving up fresh fish caught that day. I have no idea if the one we landed at was the one he recommended but what we ended up with was perfect!

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

It really is not hard to find a great restaurant in Lisbon or anywhere in Portugal for that matter. We felt it a little hit or miss sometimes in Spain, but here it was a little different. The food is super fresh and very inexpensive in comparison. Nearly every street had tables set out in the alleys and servers carrying freshly cooked fish. You simply sit down and within 10-15 minutes you will be making your food and drink order.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

One thing to watch out for (a great tip we were told) is when you sit down, they will bring you bread and sometimes other food as well. Ask each time if those items are “included” in the service or not because many times only the bread is (sometimes that isn’t even included though) this is not something we experienced in Spain but only in Portugal. If you just go in knowing this, you will be a happy customer and totally sounds like a seasoned traveler. We ordered a sea bass that was big enough to share (they also never say what is included with an item you ordertypically it is potatoes and a salad). Our sea bass was 7 euros, which is pretty darn good to someone who has seen sea bass in America for nearly $30 at some restaurants, so this felt like quite the deal and it was absolutely amazing.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

After lunch we decided it would be fun to walk back instead of nab the tram back. We saw some pretty cool things along the way and wanted to enjoy the walk through the city.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12  |  The Fresh Exchange

We stopped at a scenic overlook and got to get a beautiful view of the terra-cotta roofs and white buildings speckled along the coast. I still felt there was so much of Lisbon to explore and knew I would need to come back here in order to experience it all. I would still like to get to some of the smaller outlying towns along the coast and experience even more of the culture I was falling in love with.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 12 | The Fresh Exchange

That night we spent the big bucks and all went out for an absolutely out of this world meal at 100 Maneiras, which was a recommended restaurant from Anthony Bourdain. This was literally one of the top 10 meals we will ever have in our lives. And you know it as you are eating it too. It’s almost too much to take in, in the moment. We had an 9 course tasting menu with wine pairings. Every minute of the 3 hour dinner was filled with some of the best and most interesting food I had ever had in my life. I would do that meal over in a heartbeat to enjoy it with Wes, Linda, and Mike all over again. It was such a special night full of tears of laughter, talks about life, and giggles.

As amazing as the food was, I need to take a moment and cheers to our Sommelier for the night, and literally the most gorgeous human all four of us (cue some good laughs cause we laughed at ourselves…believe me) had ever seen in our lives, Pedro Martin. Words cannot explain the Pedro experience. Yes his wine selections are spot on, but as one persons review on trip advisor said, “if you’re willing to let the chef and sommelier have their way with you, you will leave satisfied”. We will just leave our experience with those words and let you have your own experience all your own.

Needless to say, it was quite a way to close up our time in Lisbon and say our goodbyes, for now. Lisbon had truly won our hearts.

Lisbon, Portugal: Day 11

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Oh Portugal. Oh Portugal. I am so excited to start sharing the images and beauty of Portugal with all of you. Spain had a beauty all it’s own, but to be honest Spain did not win me over the way Portugal did. I think by nature you connect better with one place over another. I loved so many moments during our time in Spain, but overall was not head over heels like I was with Portugal. I could spend years in this country, soaking up the color, water, sun, and coastal life of the Portuguese. Though I struggled with learning the language and understanding it, I still felt a deep connection to everything that was Portugal.

So, let’s kick it off with our first full day in Lisbon a city of color, tile, layers of stairs and buildings, and more.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Like any first day in a new city, Mike and I wanted to explore. The night before we had eaten an awesome dinner at Maria Do Carmo and the price difference of the north coast of Spain and Lisbon was a wonderful relief (aka it is much cheaper for some seriously great food). We couldn’t wait to get out and take in the architecture, streets, and life that Lisbon had to offer. So we went and got a little lost.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

For the first day on our trip I was able to pull out my Everlane Leather sandals and I was so excited to let the streets of this gorgeous city break them in.  So we grabbed our backpack that was filled with our camera and necessities for the afternoon and hit the streets of Lisbon.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

The first thing we noticed about Lisbon was the change in architecture. The whole city is basically art. Everything from the tiles and color palettes on the buildings to the stone streets is purposely chosen. The one thing though is that the major downturn in the economy here has caused a lot of the architecture has become decrepit. Now that may sound bad, but I honestly was in love with how this city felt like a diamond in the rough. It had such deep, grungy character, and it felt imperfect in all the right ways.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

The streets and sidewalks throughout the city have been created from square pieces of stone all placed in perfect patterns. That morning we saw them fixing some of the sidewalks, and it was pretty special to see how they hand laid the stones and filled them with sand. It was really a neat thing to witness especially since I kind of became obsessed with this type of aesthetic.  I want to make a patio at our house one day like the streets of Lisbon and watch as moss fills the cracks.  So beautiful!

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Every street contained a new special detail whether it be a new tile design or a new style of door in a cool color. Inspiration was everywhere here. I could barely contain myself!  I am not sure I can put into words how overwhelmed I was by Lisbon on that first day.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

A major thing we were told to experience here was the tram cars that take people around the cities. They are an old tradition here in Lisbon (we saw them in other cities but they are most popular here). Everywhere you looked you saw tracks for the trams and they each were unique whether it be the color or the graffiti that was all over the fronts and backs. Mike and I just kept taking multiple photos because we thought they were so fun!

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Just like any time you wander through a city (especially one as hilly as Lisbon) you get a little hungry. We came upon a place called Flower Power Food in the heart of the historic area outside of Barrio Alto. It looked like the perfect place to refuel.  We ordered salad, quiche, and sangria.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Before we checked out the waitress told us we needed to try a piece of their chocolate flourless cake because she felt it was the best in the city. I had no idea that Portugal was so great at desserts, but I am glad I figured it out early because that cake blew me away.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

If you are in the area you have to make sure to get a piece with some espresso here, because let me tell you, if you thought the city was amazing, the cake was just as amazing if not more so. It was light, perfectly chocolatey in all the right ways.  It was melt in your mouth awesomeness. Yeah I would totally eat that again and again!

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

While being here we have found it easiest to just pay cash in order to avoid transaction charges and any other issues with our card. This means that you get a lot of coins, and before we left we made sure we had this pouch (made of Spanish leather!!!) from Everlane to help us keep our coins in one place.  They can get heavy since the Euro has coined 1′s and 2′s as well as the smaller coins so the Everlane pouch saved us. It is a must to have something to carry change in if you are using cash.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Before we left we made sure to stop over in the restaurant’s flower shop to nab some pretty things for the apartment we had rented with Wes and Linda (I cannot wait to share how gorgeous this place was). It was really fun to find something to bring in to our space and make it feel like home for the few days we were there.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

We slowly wandered back to the apartment and took in every detail we could. We had plans to enjoy dinner in that night since Wes had been so inspired by the food while we were in Spain.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Without a doubt Lisbon had already hit it on the head, but I think what I wasn’t prepared for in all of this was that this place would also inspire me in other ways. The Portugal chapter of our trip was just beginning and I was excited about a new view for the duration of our trip. Though Spain felt amazing and beautiful as I expected, I had been so excited about what I was about to experience while in Lisbon.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Already I felt ready to take in this country in a new way with new eyes. We ended that day feeling as if we won a prize by coming to Lisbon, and we felt so inspired.

Lisbin, Portugal: Day 11  |  The Fresh Exchange

Currently we are traveling back to the US and will be in late this evening in Raleigh, but there is still more to come so don’t expect all the posts to end :) I mean we have not even shared Porto with yall! More beautiful things coming my friends.

Bilbao, Spain at the Guggenheim : Day 10

Bilbao, Spain at the Guggenheim: Day 10  |  The Fresh Exchange

I have to honestly tell you, I had no expectations coming into Bilbao. We simply decided to go here because it was the easiest city to fly out of in order to get to Lisbon. When we found out we needed to go through here we booked a night at a little hostel and thought maybe we should hit up the Guggenheim during our stay since we had a late afternoon flight.

When we arrived around sunset, the day we drove the coast, we checked into the hostel and decided to go find some dinner. We wandered the streets and very quickly began to fall in love with the city. Maybe it was the lack of research we did or maybe it was our lack of expectation for this city, but honestly we fell in love with it. The city mixes the beauty of an old European city with the modern design of a new city, then throw in a ridiculous amount of art. All over the city you can experience sculpture pieces by of famous artists like Richard Serra. The tram system runs over grass around the city and honestly it was one of the cleanest Spanish towns we visited, ok any European town. Initially I was a little sad to not spend more time here, but I think our 36 hours in Bilbao were just what we needed for a good tease.

Bilbao, Spain at the Guggenheim: Day 10  |  The Fresh Exchange

The next morning we got up early and checked out of our hostel, packed our car, and headed to the Guggenheim. I was blown away by the sheer size of this building as well as the feeling of movement it conveys. It is quite a site, and one I don’t think you should miss if you are in Spain.

Bilbao, Spain at the Guggenheim: Day 10  |  The Fresh Exchange

The combo of glass and steel were quite the contrast to the hilly farmland and classic European architecture that surrounded the building. It surprisingly does not feel out of place just simply the perfect reflection of what Europe is becoming and in particular how Spain itself is changing.

Bilbao, Spain at the Guggenheim: Day 10  |  The Fresh Exchange

We paid the 13 euro entry fee and were ready to take in the pieces that can simply only be experienced in this museum, bring a student ID if you have one for the “estudiante” discount. There is a permanent collection, but the featured artists Richard Serra, Ernesto Neto, and Yoko Ono were who we came to see. I was incredibly excited about seeing the Ernesto Neto exhibit after falling in love with his work in Paris. Mike has followed Richard Serra since university but hadn’t seen any of his work in person. There are other very significant pieces here as well that are very experiential as well that I suggest you look up on their website especially if you plan to visit.

Bilbao, Spain at the Guggenheim: Day 10  |  The Fresh Exchange

We began by wandering in and through the work of Richard Serra. His massive steel pieces are something that simply have to be walked through and experienced at every angle in order to really truly take in. Everything from the color of the steel to the way light and sound move through them is all extremely special. We very quickly discovered how amazing and his work truly is after having the ability to walk through each one.

Bilbao, Spain at the Guggenheim: Day 10  |  The Fresh Exchange

The next was Ernesto Neto. I experienced one of his pieces back during our time in Paris at the Pompidou. Unfortunately, Mike wasn’t able to see it in Paris, so this was hisI was completely enamored with his work then and it did not change when we got to experience even larger and more significant pieces of his at the Guggenheim. I love seeing paintings, but I love art that you are a part of. Installation work has always been Mike and I’s favorite so maybe that is why Ernesto is one of our favorites. If you have not seen or experienced any of Ernesto’s work I really suggest making an effort to. He is all about the full experience when being in his art. You will experience touch, sound, and even smell. His pieces make you truly see life, your body, and culture in a whole new way. His pieces at the Guggenheim were truly special. This room below was the most amazing piece and I totally could have hung out in it all day.

Bilbao, Spain at the Guggenheim: Day 10  |  The Fresh Exchange

We wandered the museum for nearly 3 hours before we had to head back to our car, drive to the airport, and catch our plane to head to Lisbon. Though we only had a short time in Bilbao I felt it was one of my favorite Spanish cities we saw. I hope one day to have more time with it, but for now I am at least glad for the little time we did get here.

Bilbao, Spain at the Guggenheim: Day 10  |  The Fresh Exchange

Tomorrow, we are headed back to the states, but I still have quite a few gorgeous posts from Portugal to share with yall and as yall are asking I will also be sharing a final roundup of places to stay, eat, shop, and see in each city. We also will be sharing tips for planning your own trip as well. So more beautiful things to come as always.

Cheers my friend and happy Monday!

 

 

The Basque Coast: Day 9

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

When we planned our trip we purposely made the plan to drive the Basque Coast. The drive between San Sebastian and Bilbao was only an hour, but we thought it would be a lot of fun to make a day of it. This way we could see a part of the country that we would have otherwise missed. I couldn’t be more glad that we decided to do this. We chatted about going through the mountains and experiencing a town that Anthony Bourdain went to on his No Reservations: Spain episode. We tried to get a reservation for lunch at Extebarri, but it was already booked for that day.  I was honestly a little sad because I wanted to have that experience, but things always work out how they are meant to.  This time that statement couldn’t have been more real.

We accidentally took the wrong turn on a round-about just outside of San Sebastian and ended up on the road that led straight up the coast. We had not completely anticipated this part of the trip, and looking back I wouldn’t change one thing. To this day I still have no idea the names of towns where we stopped.  Each one was so small, and they were all dispersed amongst bays along the coast that I could not figure it out looking back at the map.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

The moment we realized that we were headed up the coast and taking the long way, we embraced the moment and decided to just enjoy the journey. We became really hungry and decided that our pastry breakfast was not enough to hold us through the road trip so we stopped in a town that seemed to be pretty bustling. We drove through the heart of it and saw so much life happening in the main square.  We figured there had to be food somewhere.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

Once again we were not disappointed by northern Spain, and we found streets full of people pouring glasses of txakoli from high above their heads.  The smell of burning wood under grills covered in freshly caught fish and the hoards of locals simply enjoying the day gave us energy to enjoy. We decided to stop at Iribar Jtatxea and grabbed glasses of txakoli and ordered some grilled prawns to share.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

Truthfully we would have paid anything to have something grilled up right in front of us that had just come from the coast. So, there we stood in the alley with hundreds of locals watching the chef prep and cook our prawns in less than 15 minutes. The smell was amazing, but what was even more amazing was how simple and pure every bit of the process was. Yes, they were amazing, but there was no secret ingredient other than the purest, highest quality, and the freshest ingredients involved. We had fallen for the olive oil in this country, but experiencing it here in this small town some how felt special in a whole new way.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

There we sat in this quaint alley, the sound of guitar picking echoing through a tunnel to the sea only steps away.  The scent of the salted chilled air was all around us. I am not sure there was anything more pure and beautiful than that moment enjoying that food. It felt extremely wonderful, and for the simple price of a few euros it was our’s to enjoy.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

We jumped back in the car after we finished our lunch and wandered a little. We watched surfers catching the waves in each bay as we passed. In some small way we felt apart of this gorgeous country even if it was just for a few moments.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

After 30 minutes or so, we decided to make another small pit stop at the next town we felt looked pretty fun.  Again I am not sure which town we stopped in (our map was not loading) but we nabbed some americanos and cappucinos and sat and enjoyed our little spontaneous journey.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

If anything this trip has taught me a lot about enjoying the simplest of moments. More than anything we have been trying to find peace and contentment with the present. There is nothing like traveling to help teach you that. Americans are pretty terrible at enjoying the process I have learned because we constantly are looking for the final product. I am truly trying to let go and realize it doesn’t all have to happen right now. In fact there is true beauty in accepting the present and breathing it in and letting go of anything else that stands in the way of accepting now.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

There are moments where looking toward the end goal are important, but there must be a balance of it all. At this point in our travels, I felt our experiences were finally starting to sink in to me in a deep way. It may have taken over a week, but this ride along the coast was where I began to feel a change. I was beginning to feel released enough to let myself think and ask the tough things I had wanted to ask myself. Maybe it was all the fresh air away from the cities, or maybe it was simply I had finally begun to feel comfortable in our trip. I am not sure, but this drive began to get me stewing on my thoughts.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

I don’t know if you necessarily have to travel far from home to clear your head, but I think it works for us. I find that many times I cannot remove myself from the everyday when I am home in order to allow myself the time I need to entertain tough questions.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

I was becoming worried that those “ah ha” moments were not going to come.  There in the car driving along one of the most beautiful coasts in the world, I began to feel myself letting go enough to begin the process of discovering what I had come to discover. Whether what I would find within myself while I was here was what I expected or not, the process was beginning, and that felt really good. It just amazes me what travel can do to your soul. The challenges and the discomforts bring about such deep honesty in yourself. Removing all that stands in the way brings you to a pretty real place with yourself.

Basque Coast, Spain: Day 9  |  The Fresh Exchange

As drove into the outskirts of Bilbao, I felt that I was truly beginning the second half of this trip. I felt I had waded through the thick muck to finally get to where I wanted to be on this trip.

Tomorrow I will share about our day in Bilbao and about how we fell in love with Ernesto Neto and the Guggenheim.