It’s been a hot minute since my last blogpost I know. I’ve been struggling to find the inspiration to write since I’m not travelling much these days. It’s almost November and COVID-19 just won’t go away! Aviation has tremendously suffered this year and while things are slowly resuming back to normal at Emirates, we are still a long way away from returning back to how things were prior to the pandemic. I’m averaging around 1-2 flights per month at the moment which isn’t a lot but I’m grateful to still be employed and to be flying when so many flight attendants around the world no longer have their jobs.
This month I had my first annual leave since joining Emirates in October 2019 (literally one year… time flies!) Originally I applied for leave in October so I could return to Melbourne for my cousin’s wedding. Unfortunately due to heavy COVID restrictions in Melbourne, my cousin and his fiancée had to cancel the wedding and as it’s very hard for me to travel home to Australia right now I decided to spend my leave elsewhere. I contemplated traveling to destinations where COVID restrictions weren’t so heavy and finally settled on Lisbon, Portugal. I am so truly grateful that I took the plunge to travel there even though I was a bit uncertain whether to travel or not during these uncertain times. My trip far exceeded my expectations as I had the most wonderful time. With that said, I’ve decided to dedicate this ENTIRE blogpost to my Portugal trip which was my 70th country to visit, my first time traveling (not as crew) in 2020 and unfortunately it will most likely be my last travel for 2020. Can things return back to normal already? This girl misses her adventures!
Due to the timing of my flight, I only had the afternoon to explore Lisbon on day one. I decided to starve myself on the plane so I could devour all the amazing Portuguese food on arrival. After checking into my airbnb apartment, I was quick to set out by foot to find something substantial to eat. I thought the best way to welcome myself to Portugal would be to treat myself to a HUMUNGOUS OCTOPUS!
This little gem of a restaurant named Sol 31 was located right by my apartment. The chef created this spectacular dish just for me! I was so overwhelmed by the amazing presentation of the dish and even more so its great taste! The chef made the effort to ask me if I enjoyed the octopus after I had finished eating.. i just love that personalised service!
After filling my stomach, I visited Santa Julia elevator, an old historic elevator designed by the same architect who later designed a little structure in Paris called the Eiffel Tower… maybe you’ve heard of it?
The elevator is located in the middle of the city centre and has amazing views of the surrounding area. Lisbon is such a picturesque city, it’s built on many hills and has so much personality with its mix of old and new.
After taking a BILLION photos on top of the elevator, I made my way down to explore more of the city. I walked through the main shopping street and historic square until I finally made it to the water’s edge to watch the most beautiful sunset over the Tagus River. You wouldn’t believe how many people were sitting by the river just chilling and watching the sunset… love that!
I woke up early the next day and met my Portuguese friend Ines for brunch. Ines and I met at Emirates, she is former cabin crew and as I’m writing this I realised that Lisbon is our 3rd city to travel to this year together ( following our layovers in Hamburg, Germany and Warsaw, Poland). We met for brunch at the cutest cafe called Amelia.
After brunch Ines drove us to Belém, a district located by the Tagus River west of Lisbon. Here you will find many historical monuments, museums and galleries.
We walked along the river until we came across the 25th of April Bridge, which looks very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Why you ask? Well it was actually designed by the same company that did the one in SF. We stopped for lunch at this cool restaurant located under the bridge itself. I tried the local beer and Pregos which is a famous beef sandwich and typical Portuguese street food.
After this, I left Ines to further explore the area before finding a clinic to get my second COVID test in order to return back to Dubai. It is mandatory for me to have a negative test prior to travelling to Portugal and another returning back to Dubai.
I visited the LX factory which is a creative hub in an old industrial area. The hub homes many cool restaurants, bars and shops but I specially visited the area to see the famous bookstore Bertrand. As you can see it’s very instagram-able and since I am a complete book nerd it was mandatory to visit!
Today I woke up early to set out on a little trip to Pena Palace located in Sintra. It’s about 1 hour outside of Lisbon – I took the train followed by a bus in order to reach.
The brightly coloured palace is absolutely stunning. It was actually such a blessing traveling during COVID as the number of tourists were limited. I didn’t have to wait long in line and my photos came out amazing as I hardly have people in the background if any!
I spent many hours walking around the palace and gardens. It was so nice to be surrounded by so much greenery and magnificent landscapes.
While I was taking photos up on this balcony, I actually dropped my phone off the tower and it fell a long way down into the bushes below. I don’t know how my phone didn’t break as it landed on concrete before it fell into the bushes! I must have a phone cover of STEEL… thank you Amazon! After rummaging through the bushes I finally found my phone and it was working perfectly fine! HOORAH 😀
I had to include this picture of the flowers, I was absolutely astounded by Sintra’s beauty – not just the palace but the town as well. The whole place was full of greenery, brightly coloured houses and beautiful flowers, It would be my dream to live somewhere as beautiful as this!
I stopped for lunch at a cosy vegetarian restaurant called A Praca which overlooked the palace from the town below. I met the little lady who ran the restaurant, she explained that they serve a 3 course set menu which changes daily. She was so lovely and all dishes were super yummy and tasted homemade.
When I arrived back in Lisbon I continued to explore the different parts of the city. I came across the most beautiful terrace with amazing views of Lisbon. I also finished the evening with a shot of the famous Portuguese liqueur Ginja made from infused Ginja berries in alcohol. I’m not a fan of shots but this one was quite nice!
For my final day in Portugal I began with a trek uphill to visit St George’s Castle which is another hotspot for amazing views of Lisbon. Can you tell I love a nice view?
I spent the morning walking around the castle, taking photos and admiring the gorgeous view. The castle was beautiful and GREEN – just how I like it. There were even a few peacocks walking around the gardens, I haven’t seen a peacock in so long… it was very exciting!
When I was taking the above photo a random woman came up to me, she couldn’t really speak English but asked if she could add me on Instagram without knowing anything about me… I think she thought I was someone important HAHA sorry to disappoint!
For lunch I visited the Time Out Market, if you’re a foodie like me you MUST visit the Time Out Market in Lisbon. It’s basically a giant food hall featuring the best food and drinks from famous Portuguese chefs.
I feel like Melbourne could REALLY do with one of these…. this is so MELBOURNE!! HELLO TIMEOUT… WHERE IS OUR TIMEOUT MARKET?!?
Anywho… back to Portugal… I hadn’t up until now tried Bacalhau, which is the famous Portuguese salted codfish. I think this is their national dish, it’s served in almost every Portuguese restaurant and the coolest part about it is that it can be cooked in a billion different ways.
I tried the Bacalhau at Alexandre Silva’s stall at the Market. He is the head chef at a Michelin star restaurant so I assumed it would be a safe choice. I have to say, the cod was cooked perfectly but the SALT… omg it was wayyyyyy too salty for my liking. I understand this is the Portuguese way but for Dani, less is more 😛
It wouldn’t be right to leave the market without trying the Pastel De Nata from the famous Manteigaria stall – supposably they are one of the best places in Lisbon to get your beloved custard tarts. HOWEVER, the one I tried with Ines was ONE THOUSAND TIMES BETTER!! This is why you get yourself a Portuguese friend… they know all the hidden treasures!
After filling my stomach, I continued to explore the city which included visiting the number one thing to do in Lisbon according to the research I found online **DRUMROLL** …..Rua Nova do Carvalho A.K.A PINK STREET!
I ended my evening walking around an area called Bairro Alto – it was honestly one of my favourite parts of the city. The steep cobbled streets were lined with old houses and lots of street art. It was super hipster which is just what I like and as the sun went down the area got more lively. I have never seen so many bars and restaurants in one place!
At the top of the streets you have the most amazing terraces with AGAIN wonderful views of the city. I swear there are so many great viewpoints of Lisbon, I never knew that the city was built on hills. It reminded me a lot of San Francisco in that regard.
Unfortunately my trip must come to an end, the following day I made my way to the airport and back go Dubai. I’m so grateful that everything went so smoothly and I honestly had no issues at all travelling during this crazy time!
Even though my trip was short, it definitely ignited that passion for travel inside of me that dulled a little throughout the course of the year. Having not been able to travel (not only on leave but even on layovers) has been a huge adjustment for me. It’s something I really do miss as it’s honesty the reason I moved abroad to become cabin crew. Travelling to Lisbon really made me realise how much I miss it. I don’t know if there is any other activity that gives me greater happiness than travelling – it’s such a deep rooted love of mine, I can’t even explain how happy it makes me. I’m so grateful that I still have the opportunity to do it. I truly hope that things start to return back to normal in 2021 and I can travel a lot more than what I did this year. I miss it so much and there is so many parts of the world I want to explore… INSHALLAH I WILL EXPLORE IT!
Until next time people… CIAO CIAO xxxx
P.S. In addition to my blog, coming soon is my first VLOG which will feature my trip to Lisbon. I decided the day before my trip that I was going to film my holiday and now I’m in the process of editing the footage. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I joined Qatar Airways but I always made excuses not to do it especially in regards to the time it takes to edit the footage. Now that I have been gifted ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, it would be rude not to give it a go. 2020 is the year for me to try new things and explore all the different parts of myself that I normally wouldn’t give my time and energy to. WHEN YOU CAN’T GO OUTSIDE, YOU HAVE TO GO INSIDE RIGHT?! 😀 I honestly can’t wait to share my first vlog with you… I hope the visuals showcase Lisbon in far greater detail than what I can do with my words 🙂