We took a drive around the city before we committed to checking into a campsite, and on the face of it, we decided to give it a go. On first glance Lisbon looks like a nice city that’s a little rough around the edges. Unfortunately on a proper inspection we found that it’s a rough city, which has a few nice buildings. Walking around the city is a little more annoying than most that we’ve been to on this trip, as you get the feeling of being a little more tightly packed in. Too many tourists per square meter, and this was at the end of September. If you get stuck behind the wrong group of waddling tourists you can easily lose half an hour. As your frustration builds you also notice quite poor air quality, there are lots of cars/motorbikes/trams/tuk-tuks/buses all cramming themselves into the narrow streets, kicking out fumes. This is of course if you survive the bus journey into the city. I would imagine the amount of bus related deaths are quite high as they speed through the congested streets. The percentage of odd people is also a little too high for my liking, and when I say “odd” that’s the nicest way I could put it. In reality they are drunks, wierdos, skanks and a lot of people without many teeth. You do have to accept, even in the UK, that when you get on a bus you get the odd strange person that’s a little louder than usual, or has questionable hygiene, but in Lisbon it’s uncomfortable. Once you step off the bus, you realise that this problem isn’t just confined to public transport.
I’ve been offered drugs over twenty times today, and had a number of people walk past me winking and doing that reverse nod thing, basically suggesting that I could buy drugs from them, but without directly asking. Then even more annoying than the drug dealers are the waiters. There are a few roads that you just can’t walk down, due to the barrage of waiting staff pushing menus in your face. Before you’ve left one restaurant’s territory the next waiter is already on you. I challenge even the politest of people to walk down these streets and not want to punch someone at the end. I think I did very well to keep my cool, as I’m generally grumpy at the best of times. I’ve read a few reviews of Portugal, but Lisbon in particular, stating the food is amazing and cheap. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, it’s cheap food with terrible service all at inflated prices. We chose the best of the terrible restaurants and quickly realised that our dinner was straight out of a microwave. Avoid this restaurant – Dama e Vagabundo. If you want to pay extortionate prices, I think you could find decent food in Lisbon, but I would save you money for a more deserving city/country.
I would imagine you’ve realised by now that we didn’t enjoy the city and certainly wouldn’t recommend it. The campsite we chose is basically the same story. The reception staff use as fewer words as possible to deal with your enquiries, and there’s litter throughout the grounds. We paid 24 Euros per night, which is the most we’ve paid for a campsite. In the same vein as the whole of Portugal, it’s not as good as most places and more expensive. Capitalising on their location Lisboa Camping is one to avoid.
Two positive things that we found in a full days’ exploration of Lisbon:
The custard tarts – Pastel de Nata – there’s a pasteleria where you can buy these, on the hill up towards the Castelo de S. Jorge, don’t lower yourself to queuing in the street for the Pasteis de Belem Bakery as most of the guide books advise you to.
Montana Lisboa – a really great cafe/bar. I just wish we found this place earlier and we could have had lunch here. It’s the perfect location, right on the river front, and on a sunny day treat yourself to a Ice Mudaf#%+in-T (Iced Tea) and take home some of their roasted coffee beans.