With 2018 drawing to a close and a couple of days of annual leave still to use up, Laurence and I headed over to Northern Germany for a long weekend, dividing our time between fairy tale-esque Bremen and industrial Hamburg. Admittedly, Bremen wasn’t really on my radar until we plugged various dates into Ryanair’s Fare Finder, and discovered that we could fly into Bremen and out of Hamburg for a little over £25 each, and thereby see two places, albeit briefly, in one trip.
So many sweet treats, so little time. I can’t be the first person (and likely won’t be the last) to have faced this dilemma in Lisbon, such was the number of confeitarias with enticing window displays. Our solution? Cake for breakfast (or rather, part one of our breakfast). Chocolate cake, in fact, with a caramel mirror glaze from Confeitaria Nacional (Praça da Figueira 18). Founded in 1829 by Balthazar Castanheiro, it quickly established a reputation for quality pastries; in 1873, King D. Luís I granted it a royal warrant, and Confeitaria Nacional became a supplier of the Portuguese royal family. Incredibly, it’s still in the hands of the founder’s family six generations on.
Just a hop, skip and a tram ride away from the centre of Lisbon is Belém, a veritable treasure chest of tourist attractions. In Belém, Portugal’s Age of Discovery lives on – in the majestic Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the iconic Torre de Belém and the imposing Padrão dos Descobrimentos.
Lisbon is steep, cobbled streets, canary-yellow vintage trams and seemingly endless miradouros (viewpoints). Lisbon is pastéis de nata, leitão (suckling pig) sandwiches and bacalhau any which way you like it; a foodie’s dream. Lisbon quickly, effortlessly, captured my heart: it’s a city which oozes character and charm; a city which leisurely wandering is made for; a city which feels like a long-lost friend.
Porto packs a punch with its azulejo-clad igrejas, vibrant foodie scene and abundant viewpoints. With only two days in the city, we were keen to see as much as we could – and while we didn’t see everything (in just two days, who could?), we saw everything we wanted to and a fair bit more besides. If you missed out on last week’s post, you can catch up here. If you’re up to speed (or even if you’re not), grab a cuppa, settle in and prepare for another armchair tour of Porto – a city that just couldn’t be condensed into a single post.
I fell for Portugal – for its azulejo-covered façades, its food, its terracotta rooftops – hook, line and sinker. Our first stop, Porto, was everything it was cracked up to be: full of character and cultural gems, and picturesque to boot (even when the sea mist rolled in and enveloped the city). It’s a city for the flâneurs and flâneuses amongst us; a city which, quite simply, is made for wandering. Instead of giving you a minute-by-minute account of what we got up to in the two days we spent there, this week and next I’ll be sharing a selection of places we visited (and, more importantly, things we ate), and a few of my favourite photos.
When it comes to green spaces, Singapore has it all – rooftop gardens, sprawling parks and nature reserves – and, what’s more, you don’t have to travel far to reach them. In the 1960s, then-PM Lee Kuan Yew set the wheels in motion for Singapore to become a Garden City. Singapore’s status as a Garden City, or a City in a Garden, owes as much to this man’s vision as it does to the nation’s collective support for his project.