Nobody warned me about Lisbon.

lisbon patio

People said we’d be overwhelmed in India. They swore we’d get bored in Cambodia. They even suggested that parts of China would be too much.

But no one, not one person, cautioned me that I might fall in love with Lisbon….and I did.

I fell hard.


I fell after a 2 am flight from Petra that dropped us in Frankfurt for a 2-hour stopover (where a burly woman prided herself on removing the kids’ juice boxes as a safety concern) *insert eye roll*. I fell despite arriving at Lisbon airport and making our way to Hotel Ritz Four Seasons  in a complete sleep-deprived fog.

But when the hotel surprised us  (as part of the research I’d need to write for the hotel’s Have Family Will Travel blog) with a trip out 2 hours later to see the city by motorcycle and sidecar, we all splashed water on our faces and prepared to go again. And I’m so glad we did.

The moment we saw our rides we were all wide awake.

Four Seasons Ritz Lisbon side car

side car

For me, the love affair began almost as soon as we took off on a chauffeured motorbike and sidecar through it’s cobblestone streets. And I definitely was in love before we hit the first roundabout.

I knew little of Portugal before we came.

And I’ll be the first to tell you that Europe as a whole was moved to the end in part because it felt less adventurous than places like China and Australia and Namibia. I knew what I’d be getting in Europe, I thought.

But I was wrong.

Lisbon offered up everything I love, and had forgotten I loved, about Europe.

Delicious foods. Beautiful wines.Fantastic architecture. A delightful way of doing things.


And the people! Kind beyond belief. Taxi drivers who don’t scoff at your short distance fare but regale you with stories despite the language barrier.  Front desk staff that walk you to the door when you’re leaving not because its’ protocol but because that’s the polite thing to do.

There’s less exasperation here. People don’t seem to get as easily frustrated as home. They’ve got problems too. The economy is the pits and they have good reason to worry but they haven’t let that stop them from enjoying life and sharing their love of it with you.

laughing sidecar

Lisbon is infectious.

Within five hours of being here I asked Ish if he’d consider a move. He would. We might.

Take a look for yourselves. I dare you not to fall in love.

[nggallery id=3]


Big thanks to Hotel Ritz Four Seasons in Lisbon and SideCar Touring Company for arranging this amazing introduction.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 11 comments… add one }

Susana CastroTerhune April 18, 2012, 7:09 AM

My parents are from Lisbon but moved to Canada in the 70’s but my entire family is still there and I miss it like crazy.  I am so glad that you enjoyed your trip there!  There are so many hidden gems there too and between food and beaches and the views, Portugal will forever be in your heart. 


Heather April 19, 2012, 5:56 AM

That’s what is so exciting about Portugal. We’ve been here for two weeks and I still feel like we’ve barely touched it. I know there are many layers yet to uncover. Can’t wait to come back.


Bruno Soares July 5, 2012, 12:10 AM

Just bumped to your blog due to a friend on facebook talking about it and now i see that your favourite city so far is my birth place!  It is soooo refreshing to hear someone say they loved Portugal and/or Lisbon.  I was born and raised in Lisbon, but move to Toronto with my parents about 20yrs ago.  Most people have no clue what Portugal even looks like, let alone about our history, our culture and of course our food!  :) Most people, when they traveling to Europe, go as far west as Spain and they stop there.  What a shame, not realizing what Portugal has to offer!..I guess it is a hidden gem for those willing to explore.

I sure hope you get a chance to revisit.  Start at the top of Portugal and finish at the bottom.

P.S – Im glad you were able to try “Pasteis De Belém”.  They are legendary and a MUST of list of foods to try and passing through Lisbon. =D

P.S – My girlfriend and I want to travel around the world as well and im really curious in how you and your family managed to do this for a whole year…wow!  Congrats!!

Bruno Soares


LifeInPleasantville April 18, 2012, 9:08 AM

I’m totally okay with you moving to Lisbon, as long you’re totally okay with guests from Ottawa….annually at least ;) Looks stunning. I’m feeling that travel itch again reading your blog.


Heather April 19, 2012, 5:55 AM

Absolutely! Master plan would be to move all of you down there with me. We’ll start with annual visits. :)


walkingon travels April 18, 2012, 7:41 PM

I LOVE Lisbon. So beautiful, the food is amazing and as you already mentioned, the people are wonderful. Even while I tried my hand at Portuguese, but subconsciously switched to Spanish instead they were patient and kind. I keep telling my husband I have to bring him over, hopefully one day soon we will! 


Heather April 19, 2012, 5:55 AM

Love the people most of all! It keeps catching me by surprise. We were at the gas station the other day and Ish was fumbling for change at the counter. There were about 20 people behind him in line so I rushed over apologizing for delay and fishing for bills. They were non-plussed! “No problem,” they said. Another said “I’m unemployed anyway take your time. ” :) Seriously? At Costco we would’ve been strangled.


Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments April 18, 2012, 8:06 PM

Oh my! Why do you do this to me?  I think I am going to have to start saving for our world trip!


Heather April 19, 2012, 5:52 AM

*pumps fist* Another convert! Yes!


Jen April 19, 2012, 7:11 AM

I’ll come visit! Lisbon sounds divine.


Morten Nygard, Oslo, Norway April 20, 2012, 1:39 AM

Hm, since Lisbon is only 3 hours away from Oslo we might go one day. Agree that there are many great places in Europe as well, you are only scratching the surface. As I told Ish at Coconut Lagoon you should consider coming to Norway as well. Maybe not now, but some time. I haven’t read your complete blog yet, but will do! Enjoy the rest of your stay in Europe!


Leave a comment:

(Please note that you can bypass the location window by selecting “Submit” a second time after it appears. Thank you for your patience as we work to fix this issue.)

Next post:

Previous post: