Europe

Returning to one of my favorite cities: Lisbon!

After two and a half years of training, D-day had fi-na-lly come! Four times postponed, but at last I was on my way to Lisbon to compete in the Olympic Triathlon of Challenge Lisboa. The experience of a lifetime!

Not only the triathlon itself was something I had been looking forward to, but of course also my return to Portugal’s capital. I had been to Lisbon before, in May 2013. So exactly nine years later, I found myself retracing some of my footsteps.

Of course the main goal of my travels to Lisbon were to compete together with my colleagues from Ageas and AG in the Challenge Lisboa and have a blast doing so. With the amazing team and also the support from the Energy Lab coaches, that wasn’t very hard to achieve. It truly were some of the best days of my life.

Before and after that experience, I fortunately had to time to rediscover Lisbon. While there are many places in and around Lisbon that I hadn’t visited yet, I chose to revisit my favorite places. It had been nine years after all.

Before the challenge, I chose for a hotel in the area of Belém. The Tram 18 Hostel. A lovely view and great base to discover that part of the city. By public transport it usually takes about half an hour to get there from the old city center and about an hour to get there from the airport.

Last time I visited the Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos, which was a real treat. The Torre de Belém on the other hand was left undiscovered. But not this time around! For six euros, you can walk the wooden path into the tower and check out what on the inside. Unfortunately that was a bit of a bummer. The view on the outside terrace and the surroundings are beautiful, but I had expected a bit more of it.

But no worries, I still enjoyed my time and some delicious Pasteis de Belém. Never skipping on those! By noon it was time for me to check out of my hotels and head to the Tivoli Oriente hotel at the Parque das Nações, the playground for my triathlon. I had to switch from bus to the metro right at Parque Eduardo VII. A quick view on the park never hurt no one right? Gorgeous!

The next couple of days were a rush of information on the event, but fortunately the organization also quenched my wanderlust thirst. From the Oceanario we took the telecabine to the Myriad Hotel. Pretty expensive at 6 euros one way for the ground you only cover, but the view on the Taag river and the Parque das Nações, where I would run the next day, was worth it!

Race day itself of course was a mayor event! Swimming in the salty water in front of the Oceanario, biking on the highway north of the city and running to the Vasco da Gama bridge. Such an amazing experience!

After crossing that long awaited finish line, I was reunited with my sister who’d flown into Lisbon as well to cheer me on. Active recovery is the best recovery they say, so we walked back to the Vasco Da Gama bridge so she could check out the scene as well.

The final party of our challenge was held in the Pavilhão do Conhecimento, Lisbon’s science museum. We didn’t get to see much of the exhibitions, but the building itself alone made me feel lucky to have that venue.

End of the challenge, start of the rediscovery of Lisbon! I had two days left to wander around the city, showing my sister some of my favorite spots for her first visit. Ready, set, GO!

Lisbon, to me, is the city of the viewpoints. There are many beautiful miradors in the old part offering stunning views on the houses, churches and the Taag. My favorite is the Miradouro de Santa Lucia. Under the leaf covered pergola, you could stare at the city forever! Add a really talented street musician and his acoustic guitar and it’s a romantic postcard picture perfect!

The widest view can be found from the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, another must do! Along the way there are also several other viewpoints that deserve a quick stop, so keep your eyes open. We returned back down to Alfama with the famous Tram 28. A very busy line with many tourists, but not exactly more entertaining than the other old trams still running in the city. Tram 28 of course has the most beautiful route.

Our Sunday evening was spent on the steps of the Commerce Square, watching the sun set over the river and the city. Bliss.

While I had hoped to be able to squeeze in a visit of part of Sintra, the UNESCO site about an hour outside of the city, there simply wasn’t time enough to enjoy it without worrying too much about missing our flight back home that evening. Bummer! Our alternative however offered us a more relaxing and still perfect day; I returned to the Cristo Rei statue across the river for a stunning view on the Ponte 25 de Abril.

This was one of my favorite memories of my trip to Lisbon back in 2013. And by total coincidence it was also exactly nine years ago that I visited that place. May 9th. It was meant to be!

From Cais de Sodré we took the ferry across the river to Cacilhas. The tram then brought us to the center of Almada from which we had to walk about ten minutes to the site. It does take some time to get there, but it’s worth it!

You can also go to the top of the base of the statue, right below Jesus’ feet, but that wasn’t much of a value added in my opinion. I even like the view from the terrace below better.

We wanted to spend the rest of our day on that side of the river, so we found a way to walk back along the river banks to the ferry. There was a restaurant and viewpoint halfway there which made it the perfect leisurely stroll. What we hadn’t expect though was the ruins of an abandoned winery; Quinta da Arealva. An urban explorer’s dream!

This place is full of magnificent street arts and murals, all with the stunning Ponte 25 de Abril in the background. What a discovery!

And suddenly we found ourselves losing track of time discovering this site. A quick lunch at Atira-te ao Rio and then back to the ferry, crossing the river and then back to the airport to return home. I truly had a blast on this trip, finally crossing that finish line but also rediscovering the city and even stumbling across some new places. Lisbon, you are still one of my favorite places!

♡ Ellen

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