Of course, there are many reasons to visit Lisbon, Portugal. The beautiful city with its tile covered buildings, the amazing seafood, the famous egg tarts, and the local Fado music, just to name a few. But this trip, my first to Lisbon, was with a purpose. My good friend Wes James, aka Le Youth, was playing the Rock In Rio Festival, along with other performers such as, The Rolling Stones, Queens of the Stone Age, Arcade Fire, Justin Timberlake, etc., and I wanted to be there. It just so happened to also be the days around a huge soccer match in Lisbon between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, causing tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of soccerheads to flood the streets.
Screens were put up around the city for those who hadn't scored a ticket to the game, to watch and cheer along. Wes and I, although not really into sports, took part by having a few drinks, and by watching some of the game projected on large screens on Avenida da Liberdade. Real Madrid ended up on top, winning 4-1 over Atlético Madid. It was a proud victory and devastating defeat for the people of Madrid.
Besides the soccer match, we had plenty of time to eat and drink, two of the best things to do in Lisbon. We also headed out to Belém to try the famous Pastéis de Belém. Usually when something has this much hype, I am let down. But not in this case. These tiny egg tarts blew away my expectations, arriving still warm from the oven. We picked up a few and took them over to the nearby Tagus river, to sit down and enjoy.
The pastry was crisp and caramelized on the bottom, making for a nice crunch when biting in. The custard, rich and creamy, but not heavy or overly sweet. We topped the tarts off with a dusting of cinnamon and powdered sugar and noshed on them while watching the ships pass by. At just 1.05 euros per tart, they are also an awesome deal.
Not only did we eat sweet treats, but savory ones as well. Grilled sardines, a stew of monk fish and rice in a rich tomato sauce with cilantro, octopus salad, pork steaks, cheeses, and more. Portuguese red and white wines, beers, and a local cherry liqueur called ginja at A Ginjinha washed it all down.
The show was on the final night before I headed back to Paris. Wes killed it, and in true rock festival fashion, afterwards we partied until the wee hours of the morning, allowing for just about an hour of sleep before heading to the airport.
So, to sum things up, if you can, head to Lisbon, eat and drink well, party, and enjoy a few egg tarts.