Most people hop on a tram (another charming aspect of Lisbon’s public-transport offering) to visit the Jeronimos Monastery. Historically, when Portugal separated church and state, the monks turned to making pastries as an alternative source of income, and the iconic pastéis de nata was born. An outing to Belem is as much a pilgrimage to see the monastery, as it is a pilgrimage to visit the original pastry shop set up by the monks — and the queues to visit either site are just as long. One of the unexpected things I stumbled upon in the monastery’s cathedral is the tomb of Vasco de Gama, which is somewhat overshadowed by the vaulted interior of the cathedral. Even if you’re not a fan of visiting old churches, this one is one you’ll make an exception for: its interior is breathtaking.
But I am one of the new breed of food travellers, so the lure of ancient cathedrals is fleeting. A visit to the TimeOut Food Market was high on the to-do list, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a vast warehouse of carefully curated food stalls, serving anything from reimagined bachalou (salted cod, another traditional Portuguese staple) to more mouth-watering pastries. In the pursuit of new food experiences, I now book an Airbnb Experience in every city I visit. The last one was a “bike & bite” tour in Paris, which was a combination of a bike-share ride and foodie exploration.
In Lisbon, I booked a food tour called “Lisbon’s Best Flavours” in the Alfama district — Lisbon’s oldest suburb — which included an award-winning reinvention of pasteis de feija (a bean pastry). Far from sating the appetite of what Lisbon has to offer, it firmed my resolve to return again. So many pastries, so little time.
Dion Chang is the founder of Flux Trends. For more trends, visit fluxtrends.com
Additional images from Chang's Lisbon getaway: