Photo tour through Lisbon
Let me ask you, which phone do you use? Why that one? What do you like about it? What do you need it for?
The question for the perfect phone is on my mind often, I think it has actually become the most important item to bring with me on a trip, more than a laptop, a camera or even a credit card.
My ideal smart phone needs to be intuitive to use, take awesome photos, allow me to go online easily and quickly, letting me communicate via phone, email and text message. Those are the minimum requirements. Bonus points are given for sleek design and special functions such as being waterproof, scratch proof and unbreakable. I can’t tell you how many smartphones I have lost to breakage or water damage, so especially those last ones are a massive game changer.
Always keen to see what’s new in the world of mobile communication I was happy to follow an invitation by Sony Mobile, on the occasion of the launch of the new Experia Z1, a phone that was meant to have all of the above. To test-drive it for ourselves we were flown out to one of the most beautiful locations in Europe: Lisbon.
We stayed at the stunning new design hotel Memmo Alfama in Alfama, the oldest part of Lisbon. Overlooking the ocean a group of bloggers and journalists met on the terrace on the first night, had a few cocktails and were eventually presented with new smartphones. On the itinerary for the coming 2 days: a photo tour of a special kind. I was suspicious at first, I have been a die-hard Iphone user for years now and I am especially critical when it comes to camera quality, after all I am a photographer.
It only took a few snaps to become pretty impressed with how well and easily the Experia Z1 picked up even the slight changes in color in the sky during the blue hour. The pink, yellow and blue we saw in real life did appear on the screen, not something any phone can make happen. But hey, I don’t want to bore you with tech-talk, I’d actually much rather tell you all about the gorgeous Portuguese capitol. For the purpose of this blogpost I haven’t photoshopped any of the photos, all shots published here come straight out of the Experia Z1 to give you a better idea of its camera quality.
So Lisbon – MY GAWD, why did no one tell me about how stunning the place is? It’s located in spitting distance to incredibe beaches – I got the tan of a lifetime in just 3 days – with my favorite one being Caparica. From the city centre it’s an easy €15 cabride across the bridge where amazingly clean water and fine sandy beaches await. Rent an umbrella and a lounger (about €12 for both per day) and enjoy the sun. September was a perfect time to be there as it was still over 30°C each day but not a lot of people were at the beach and no one ever did come and charge us for those loungers.
Lisbon itself is extremely walkable, especially the area around our hotel – Alfama – is full of beautiful old buildings and bags full charm. In every nook and corner there are restaurants, many playing Fado, the traditional Portuguese music genre, usually a man or a woman singing about melancholia and longing to the sounds of a guitar. Many places are tourist traps, so compare your options and prices before you decide. For the real deal, head to Mesa de Frades, a small restaurant located in a former chapel that features great nightly Fado performances. There is a set menu and bookings are essential. If Mesa de Frades is full or you’re simply not in the mood for a full 5-course meal head to nearby Pateo 13, a popular restauramt where you’ll be served fresh fish and meat at reasonable prices in a beautiful outdoor setting.
Potentially the most fun way of seeing the city, however, is by going on a Rickshaw tour with TukTuk Lisboa, a totally novel and great concept. You probably know TukTuks from India and Thailand, seeing them in Europe is strange at first but awesome right after. The tour took us to a couple of Lisbon’s numerous miradouros, viewpoints, from where one can overlook the city. Not rarely our group of TukTuks had to squeeze past locals in tiny allet as it turned out nobody can get angry at such adorable carriages, quite a few people even got their phones out to photograph us!
Definitely my favorite stop of the tour was at Miradouro de Graca, when someone handed me a glass of sparkling wine and a pastel de nata. How can you possibly beat that?
Next stop on our super special city tour was a trip on a Dutch 3-masted sailboat where we were served lunch while cruising along the bay, past the beautiful 25 de Abril bridge, which often gets compared to the Golden gate bridge in San Francisco.
If you’re interested in going on a cruise during your trip to Lisbon, Marlin Boat tours has a whole range of options, anything from romantic sunset sails to city tours.
We ended the day at the Guincho beach which gets a lot of wind and is therefore popular for surfers and kitesurfers. For safety reasons you cannot swim here when kitesurfers are in the water, there is beach control handling times when it’s possible to go in the water though. The sand here is beautiful though and there is a small bar serving coffees and snacks, making this a beautiful spot to spend some time.
I was naturally pretty avidly taking photos with my phone when I accidently dropped it in the water. I have lost more than one phone to water damage so this came a s a bit of a shock at first. Then I remembered that this phone is waterproof! I really don’t even know how that works but I found that fascinating enough to get snapping some photos of my phone lying in the wet sand, unimpressed by passing waves.
4 days were not nearly enough to get to know this wonderful city and havign the beach lure you in every day is not helping with investigative journalism, but I’m already looking forward to returning to Portugal, next time with more than just a few days on my hands.