Updated: May 11
I arrived in Lisbon a week before Jamie made her move. I was staying in a nice Air B&B in Chiado Square which was 20 minutes from her apartment. It was a nice big apartment, with high ceilings, hard wood floors, fully equipped kitchen, and although on a busy square, quiet with the windows shut. There was an elevator, which is rare in most apartments in Lisbon, and my host, Diogo was very friendly and quick to respond. I loved the apartment because of it's central location. Here is a link to the listing: https://abnb.me/wHZHENcljpb .
The Chiado neighborhood offers a lot of action. There are night clubs, busy cafes, delicious restaurants and lots of boutique shopping. One of my favorite areas in this part of the city is the calm and tranquil Largo de Carmo square.
The Carmo Convent, never fully reconstructed with a roofless nave and museum, sits on the square. It is a reminder of the devastating damage that the city suffered during the earthquake of 1775.
Another site in the Chiado area is the Igreja De Sao Roque. This is one of my favorite churches in Lisbon. Built in the 16th century, it suffered very little damage during the big earthquake. I find the beauty of this church breathtaking with the painted ceilings, the marble sculptures, mosaics, gilded wood carvings, and all the precious and semi-precious stones.
Some good restaurants in the Chiado area include, Organi Chiado with delicious organic food and Grom for the best ice cream.
Bairro Do Avillez is a fun restaurant consisting of a tapa bar, pizza patio and fish restaurant.
Boa-Boa is a really good Asian/Thai restaurant but they don't take reservations and the line is long. Get in line at 6:30p if you want a table that night!
A Brasileira is a beautiful cafe and very popular tourist destination that you really must see. It has a large patio area outside where you can watch the street artist perform.
Jamie's realtor gave me a tour of the apartment and handed me the keys. My first impression was not great. It was on a very busy street, Sao Bento, with lots of traffic and the apartment was old. Small bathroom, small kitchen but a nice big bedroom in the back of the building and nice hard wood floors. My initial reaction was "oh dear", not sure she will like this. She had only done a zoom tour with her realtor before deciding to rent. The reality was she had to sign a year lease for the apartment and after six months could start looking for another place if it didn't suit her needs.
I started shopping for towels, sheets, and a Nespresso machine for her house warming. I discovered Pollux Department Store in Rossio Square. This is a department store with 7 floors where you can find everything you need to put an apartment together. They also have a fabulous roof top restaurant on the 8th floor that is well worth experiencing called "Terraco Editorial "with amazing views overlooking the city. Nothing better than shopping and eating I always say! I went to the apartment a couple times before she arrived and each time felt it really wasn't as bad as my first impression.
When Jamie arrived,
we had six bags to carry up one flight of stairs. Hard to believe you can fill your life up in five blue IKEA bags! With several shopping expeditions, including IKEA, and a huge high end shopping mall called El Corte Ingles, the apartment began to take shape and felt more like home. Thank God for Uber!
We set out exploring her neighborhood and found some great little restaurants, a large Pingo Doce grocery store, a gym, yoga studio and the Rato metro stop. One of the best little cafes we discovered was "The Whisk Cafe". Great food, friendly help and cheerful patrons. Ozuna, the owners dog, was always there to welcome us!
We also found a small, delicious, health food restaurant called the Healthy V which was steps away from her apartment. The waiter and waitress made our day with their charm and laughter.
Very close to Jamie's apartment was a lovely park called Praca Das Amoreiras. The original ruins of the water ducts that carried water to the city in ancient times run through this park. It is very family oriented, quiet, with a little cafe and a perfect place to tone down the pace of the city.
Another park just ten minutes away is Jardim da Estrela. There is a duck pond, a bandstand for concerts, and a cafe with outdoor seating for a light meal.
The park dates back to 1852 and sits in front of the Basilica da Estrela.
This beautiful Basilica was constructed as a religious vow from Queen Mary after giving birth to an heir of the Portuguese throne. The child died very young at 27, before the Basilica was completed and Queen Mary who later in life suffered from mental illness is buried there. Worth mentioning is a 500 piece manger scene carved in cork that is on display.
Sao Bento is a nice, safe, neighborhood with everything Jamie needs within walking distance from the apartment. I can honestly say by the time I departed to fly home to Los Angeles, I felt very at home there kicking back, drinking Nespresso, watching Netflix with our feet up. I left Lisbon knowing she would be happy with her choice.