In love with Lisbon, again

A tram in central Lisbon

A tram in central Lisbon

Ah, Lisbon - your cobbled streets, your charming arthritic wooden trams bustling up and down precipitous streets from the sea to the hills, your heady mix of rawness and sophistication, your views of the city tumbling down towards the Tagus, your tiny pavements filled with people, your cafés, kiosks and miradors - we've fallen in love with you all over again.

Mirador overlooking the 25 April Bridge

Mirador overlooking the 25 April Bridge

  We had to bid a sad fairwell to Sam, our Ford Falcon van, leaving him stored safely outside the city in a friend's warehouse while we made our way to Lisbon for a few days before our flight to London.

Sam's cosy home for Christmas

Sam's cosy home for Christmas

He has pumpkins and plenty of spiders for company

He has pumpkins and plenty of spiders for company

Locking him up safe

Locking him up safe

  We're staying in the Barrio Alto district in a beautiful apartment we rented through airbnb, and which has been our base this week for exploring the city. We've trawled through the city's past at the Feira do Lladras or Thieves' Market, a twice-weekly flea-market, filled with second-hand treasures, junk and antiques; and a wonderful window on the intimate lives of Lisbon's inhabitants, past and present.

Trawling the stalls at the Feira do Lladras

Trawling the stalls at the Feira do Lladras

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Feira do Lladras (Thieves' Market)

Feira do Lladras (Thieves' Market)

  After three months on the road Carlos' beard was beginning to make him look a little Tom Hanks in Castaway, so we stopped off at Barbearia Oliveira in Alfama's winding cobbled streets. Featured in Time Out Lisbon's 50 best new businesses of 2013, this tiny barbers is over 100 years old, and has recently been given a somewhat hipster makeover including a 1960s TV in the corner playing 80s hits on VH1, and a vintage counter - all good fun and Carlos left looking like a new man. At just €5.50 it was also incredibly reasonable.

Getting a much-needed trim

Getting a much-needed trim

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Que guapo!

Que guapo!

  We've been rather poor tourists this week, preferring to relax and enjoy the city rather than go visiting sights, but we did make it to the spectacular Oceanario in the east of Lisbon. We fell in love with the sea otters, but the whole exhibit with one of the largest aquariums in the world and its strong emphasis on education and conservation was pretty awe-inspiring.

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Just some of the 100 species in the main aquarium

Just some of the 100 species in the main aquarium

A Magellanic Penguin

A Magellanic Penguin

  On Sunday we wandered through the city westwards until we were directly under the huge suspension bridge over the Tagus, Lisbon's own 'Golden Gate Bridge'. The area has been invaded by the city's coolest nightclubs and the LX Factory, a creative space filled with cafés and independent stores and a weekend market. We fell in love with a giant papier maché cactus, which we somewhat rashly paid a deposit for. When we return in January we'll be travelling therefore with this large and totally impractical addition to our van.

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A vintage Beatle parked up at LX Factory

A vintage Beatle parked up at LX Factory

Painfully true

Painfully true

Our impulse buy

Our impulse buy

Goods on sale at LX Factory

Goods on sale at LX Factory

Graffiti at LX Factory

Graffiti at LX Factory

  The greatest joy in Lisbon is just to get lost, drinking in the tarnished beauty of the architecture, taking a rickety old tram across town and discovering new corners of the city for yourself. 

Placa do Comercios

Placa do Comercios

Christmas shopping

Christmas shopping

Tiles at Intendente metro

Tiles at Intendente metro

The steep streets of Bica

The steep streets of Bica

Even the streets are beautiful

Even the streets are beautiful

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Taking the 28 tram

Taking the 28 tram

Today we finished our Christmas shopping, buying some of the colour and flavour of Lisbon to take home to family and friends this Christmas. We stopped off at our favourite Mirador, the Jardim de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, with views over the whole city to the castle and river. 

Wishing you all the best from Lisbon

Wishing you all the best from Lisbon

  Tomorrow we fly to London and we'll be sharing some of our favourite places there as we prepare for a very happy Christmas. With love from Lisbon.

A few places we love:

www.facebook.com/oliveira.barbearia

www.conserveiradelisboa.pt

www.solepesca.com

www.docapeixe.com

www.avidaportuguesa.com

cantinhodoavillez.pt

www.restaurante100maneiras.com

www.lxfactory.com