Lisbon: Freedom, Fado and Food
by Galena La Georgieva
What do you think of when you think of freedom? Sand… blue sky every day …with sun of course…? Or wandering through small and cute streets somewhere without purpose? Lisbon can offer both and many more. I lived there for 5 months as an Erasmus student and I have felt free in so many ways. All this is perfectly collaborating with the melancholic famous style of music – fado and a range of good food.
In my opinion, this is the best thing about Lisbon and Portugal, as I have been in all parts of it. Maybe now you can’t imagine, you think that you are free now too. And most likely you are, but in Lisbon, I’m talking about freedom in all aspects :
- freedom of walking without fear at 4 a.m. as we are walking to our apartment after the Halloween party;
- freedom of living with a small amount of money – because it is so cheap, my expenses per month excluding the rent were 200 euros ;
- freedom of talking in English because almost everyone knows it or at least they will do whatever they can to understand and help you
- freedom of not wearing winter clothes because there is no such season
- freedom to be who you are without the fear of discrimination because there are so many people from different nationalities and Portuguese are very tolerant.
What is more, the calmness of the people is contagious and it is not hard to feel like a local already on the second day.
This is a Portuguese music that sounds to me as someone is singing their heart out. Most of the time I didn’t know the meaning of the lyrics but you can feel that it is something very deep. Moreover, it is not only because of the singer but also the musicians, because every fado is accompanying by guitar man.
Best place for fado in Lisbon:
When you search in Google places for fado it says that “Tasca do Chico “ is the best place and I believed it. This was a mistake. Not always the most common things are the once that are worthy. This place is very famous and that is why it had turned itself into just a place for money. The singers gave me the feeling that they are there only because it is their job. There was no feeling of something personal, no connection between you and the music.
On the other hand, my Brasilian friend recommended me a place in Alfama called Tascabeat do Rosario. I have never been in such a real connection with the musicians. These people are artists and they live for and through music. In the pauses, they are talking with the guests and the feeling is like you are part of their friend’s circle. On top of the great atmosphere, there are also cheap drinks and food.
Portugal has a great climate and an ocean next to it. The good climate leads to a variety of real and tasty vegetables and fruits. One kilo apples are 1,10 euros and they are delicious! Also, there is a range of exotic fruits all year long, like mangos, all sorts of melons, even some that I didn’t know about, papayas. All of them not exceeding the price of 2 euros per kilo.
The Tejo river and the Atlantic ocean are the reasons for the incredible range of cheap seafood. You can find all sorts of fish, prawns, squids and many more. The most famous fish is the so-called “Bachalau” which is actually a codfish and they are making everything from it: from soup to burger.
The burning chorizo
The first thing that is very typical is the burning sausages. They are not only tasty but also an attraction because they are bringing it to you as it is burning. They have several types of sausages. For my taste the best one is chorizo and the worst is the “alheira”. You can find them in a lot of places but I will recommend “Timeout market”. And they are not expensive.
Pastel de Nata
The second thing that is a must is the Pastel de Nata and you can find it on almost every baker’s shop and in every supermarket. Actually, Pastel de Nata is its more popular name but the original one is Pasteis de Belem. The little sweet treats are made by their original secret recipe only in cafe Pasteis de Belem in the famous neighbourhood of Belem. So you will probably go to Belem to taste this sweet pastry and you will see that there is a big queue outside the café. My pro tip is: Don’t wait! They are more than a hundred seats inside. You can seat and order Pasteis de Belem and a coffee and if you want you can also ask for some pasteis for home. May be you would think that they would be expensive as they are like the macarons for France. They are not – only 1.10 euro per pasteis combined with coffee it will be about 3 .50 euros.
Best places to eat and how to eat cheaply in the fancy restaurants in Lisbon
There are a lot of restaurants in Lisbon of course and most of them have reasonable prices but if you want to spend less for some great food my pro tip is to reserve a table from The Fork app where you can find a lot of restaurants with discounts. I ‘ve been to restaurants with even 50% off my bill. I would recommend “Mensagem”. It has a breathtaking view above Lisbon and has a 5-star service. Also, my other top choice is the restaurant of “ My story hotel Rossio”. The food there is very delicious and they also have a lunch menu for 12 euro I think. If you want a cosy dinner with not that fancy but excellent food in the form of gourmet burgers then “ Café do Rio” is your place. Check the discounts in the fork
Lisbon is full of freedom, entertainment and good food. Visit it and grab a piece from all.