Lisboa boa: 11 yogi and not-so-yogi tips for my dear international mates

Before being passionate about yoga, I was passionate about my city, Lisboa.

Born and raised here till the age of 25, I was lucky enough to grow up in an open-minded family with people from all walks of live: artists, writers, engineers, public employees, cooks, politics, spies, maçons, psychologists, outcasts, you name it. What a beautiful melting pot and a winning recipe for curiosity, exploration, adventure and storytelling. Also, what a delicious gateway for spiritual development all-things-non-related to these.

Growing up between Alameda and Graça, my betinhos universe was challenged since a very young age, being invite to embrace difference, minorities or whatever didn't fit the status quo. Maybe that was also the reason why I wanted to be a writer since 5, and not a yoga teacher that writes - another post on that one day.

Back to Lisboa. For me, cities have no translation. They are like people with their very own personality, body-shape and identity. You can put this or that label but the truth is, you can only feel it, you can only experience it whilst there. Lisboa is a very traditional city - think of the one of the oldest in the world, edified officially in 1143, with epics and stories that date from Ulisses and other warriors and fighters times. We're a city with garra, aka LOADS of caracter, authenticity and, allow me, very welcoming and friendly people. Try to say 'obrigado/a' and a whole new world of smiles will automatically be available to you.

Now over to the tips, as you can read about Lisboa's History in many many places. I will keep my recommendations short and sweet, so you can get your curiosity sorted and explore them whilst here. Enjoy the ride.

1. Where to practise Yoga: a, b, c

a) If you are new to Yoga, check out Ministry of Yoga. Zoe and the girls are very welcoming and very keen on supporting you, both into the practise and into Lisbon's Yoga community. They offer many classes throughout the day, 6 days a week, in many styles. Personal fave: Yin at 5pm on Fridays - that bliss before bozze.

b) If Ashtanga is your thing, casa Vinyasa is one of the most popular, with a Mysore style approach and English speaking teachers. If you fancy a train ride to Estoril, Verinha is your girl, at Ashtanga Cascais.

c) Experienced yogi? Bring your mat and take it outdoors. When the weather is nice, I teach a juicy Sunday Flow at Jardim da Estrela, perfect pre brunch. YUMMY.

p.s: and come to one of my urban retreats, obvs.

2. Where to eat when you are not on the mat?

To be honest, I rather go to veggie friendly places than vegan restaurants but that is a personal preference since I have a flexitarian approach to foods - everything but meat, milk, allium and processed foods.

Lisboa's faves as follows, depending on your food preferences and taste. Warning: they mostly include bread, pastries and soup, oh, and salads, juice and coffee, off course. Não queremos que te falte nada.

O Escalfado for proper coffee, brekkie oat pancakes, and prato do dia, aka, dish of the day, a local tradition

Taberna da Esperança for tibornas com queijo de cabra e mel and loads of heavy stuff I don't even eat but people love. Extra points for the waiters.

Tartine Chiado for eggs, best dark bread and almond croissants

Valdo Gatti for pizza and generous salads

Janis for wine by (beautiful) glass, banana bread and lulas fritas

Bar do Crepes (Graça) for buckwheat pancakes and OJ

Still hungry? Go to point 5 and 6.

3. Where to get inspiration from?

Streets, museums, shops, art galleries, and spying locals. The best way to do this, is to stroll around and get lost somewhere between Graça, Chiado, Cais, Santos, Lapa e Alcantara.

Wozen is my place for 'here and now' art and debate.

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga for sunday mornings lingering with the oldies.

Berardo for big paints and pop art, followed by loads of tourists at Pastéis de Belém.

Museu da Electricidade the cutest museum ever.

Culturgest, where real people go.

4. Where to have a decent glass of wine?

At home. Buy your bottle for less than 10 euros at Mercearia do Vinho, and be merry by the river. Don't forget to take decent wine glasses as delicious wine asks for it - and absolutely no plastic, please.

Or sit at the till at Farés, at the couch at Resistência or, I don't know, go to Bairro Alto and enter somewhere that does not have an English menu and ask for 'um bom vinho tinto, por favor'.

5. Where to eat the best cake?

Pastéis da Manteigaria (Cais and Chiado), Banana Bread from Comoba (Cais), gluten-free chocolate cake from O Escalfado (Santos), Tiramisu from Esperança da Sé (Alfama), croissant with Nutella from La Boulangerie (Lapa). So much sugar going on in Lisboa that I get sugar high just by writing this.

Anyway, you are more into sugarless treats, I've read 26 ao Vegan is the place to go but, shame on me, I haven't tried it. Yet.

6. Where to eat stuff that is not cake?

Go to Mercado da Ribeira - the local part, not the Time Out bit, and get yourself some fresh local veggies and fruits. That will keep you busy for a bit. You can also try castanhas assadas, when on season. In Summer, the same guys sell expensive strawberries with hormones.

7. Where to spend your money when you are not eating?

At Nomad Goods, coolest curated shop and doggo friendly co-work, with a very decent coffee and magazines selection. A personal favourite, even before hosting my events there. Also worth checking out Montana Café, which is a small gallery too. Cake is decent there for who likes it. I am an Americano person, always extra hot. Like Portuguese blood.

8. Where do I go to digest food?

Up and down the hills, baby. Up and down.

9. Where do I go to cure hangover?

Take a boat to Cacilhas. Go and do it, order an abatanado (Americano's portuguese cousin) and toast with extra butter or tosta mista and happiness will have a new meaning in your life.

10. Where to sleep?

Up to you. Our hostels and hotels are always amongst the best in the world. Funny enough, they are also said to be the cheapest.

Same goes for Air Bnb. If you choose the later, please be mindful of the noise you make after 11pm. Did you know there are REAL people living in these buildings? Also, try to learn a bit more about the litter policy. Quite simple, yet so difficult for people to respect... We love to have you here but our city is small and old. Please respect her.

11. How to I move around?

WALK, baby, WALK. It will hurt but no one said life is easy.

Alternatively public transports are cheap but not super reliable - make sure you get your Lisboa Viva for 50ncents, it will save you money and trees when catching E28. Our shared bike scheme is quite good, and electric - GIRA, and there are loads of Scooters around. Same goes for UBER. We're in 2019, in Europe, in case you've forgotten.

Hm... What else, what else? Please carry a reusable water bottle, as our water is TOTALLY potable and a reusable coffee cup, in case you don't sit down for coffee. That and a cotton tote bag. But hey, if you're reading this I am sure you are a conscious and civilised person. Apart from that, safe travels. Can't wait to see you here.

Enjoy the ride and keep sharing the good vibes.

x sara

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© 2020 words and design by Sara Vale

Photos by Vera Sepulveda and Sonia Davies