Wandering in Seville

Our flight from Dublin landed in Seville yesterday. Amidst the whirlwind of checking into our Airbnb, stocking up on basics at the local supermarket, and catching up on sleep and real life, we’ve also managed to head out to explore a few times.

Santa Cruz Street
Typical Seville Street

Our wanders have lead to us becoming pleasantly disoriented on the city’s narrow, winding streets, but thankfully Google Maps on Josie’s phone has always brought us back home. Eventually.

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Pastéis de Belém

We took the tram to try the original Pastéis de Belém at the Antiga Confeitaria that has been making them since 1837. These tarts are called Pastéis de Nata elsewhere in the Lisbon, and they are available almost everywhere. But these are the originals made with a secret recipe.

Pastéis de Belém Café
Pastéis de Belém Café

They are truly the best Portuguese custard tarts I’ve ever had. Crispy crunchy flaky crust filled with light creamy custard.

The Famous Tarts
The Famous Tarts

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Convento do Carmo

One of my more vivid memories of my short visit to Lisbon in 2003 was the Convento do Carmo, a convent and church constructed in the late 1390’s and then destroyed in the earthquake of 1755.

From the viewing platform
From the viewing platform

The arches of the convent can be glimpsed from the viewing platform of the nearby Elevador de Santa Justa.

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Miradouro da Graça

One benefit of an incredibly hilly city is that the tops of those hills provide great views. In Lisbon they call these viewpoints miradouros, and every person and guidebook recommends a different one.

Looking over Baixa
Looking over Baixa

But the Miradouro da Graça seems to be popular with everyone. We climbed up on Monday evening, a little before sunset, hoping for perfect views. Although things were a little hazier than we expected given the blinding sunshine of the day, we were not disappointed.

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LX Factory & Village Underground

We left the historic Alfama and Baixa areas and took the ludicrously crowded Tram 15E along the riverfront out to the Alcântara neighbourhood. There, at the foot of the Ponte (Bridge) 25 de Abril, we visited two of the more recent additions to the Lisbon map.

LX Factory Entrance
LX Factory Entrance

The LX Factory reminded us a lot of Toronto’s Distillery District. In 2008 an abandoned 1840’s textile factory was converted into artist studios, cafés, shops and market stalls.

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Getting Aquainted with Lisbon

One last blast of freezing rain and flurries blew through Toronto just before our plane was scheduled to take off. We felt lucky to be delayed by only one hour, which we spent watching the robotic arms of the de-icing machines spray down our plane with a fluorescent green liquid.

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Revenge of Winter in Toronto

After a stop in Montreal and six more neck-wrenching hours trying to doze on the plane, we arrived in Lisbon around 7 in the morning. Even from high above, the famous “light of Lisbon” was already evident, glowing on the orange rooftops of the buildings we flew over.

The light of Lisbon
The light of Lisbon

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A Steamy NYC Weekend

We braved the humidity, downpours and dripping air conditioners of New York City for an August long weekend getaway. We usually avoid summers in NYC, but we had the travel bug after our London and Iceland adventures and snagged a good summer rate at the Nolitan Hotel in Nolita near Soho.

We took things easy and spent a couple days mainly along the Upper and Lower East Sides of Manhattan.

Elizabeth Street Garden
Elizabeth Street Garden

One of our first stops after we checked into the hotel was the nearby Elizabeth Street Garden. This small park is an oasis filled with lush plantings and stone sculptures, located on the site of a former public school torn down in the 1970s.

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Miscellaneous London Charm

London is such a vast city that even a full week spent exploring as tourists meant we barely scraped the surface of a few neighbourhoods.

The Shard
The Shard: Always Watching You

In between all the other major landmarks, museums, pubs and restaurants we visited and blogged about, we also came across other things that caught our interest. Here’s a random compilation.

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Gentlemen Baristas Coffee House

Although the café and a-la-carte breakfast options in our hotel were pretty decent, one of the things I always like to seek out when traveling are good third wave coffee spots. London has no shortage and we lucked out by finding the Gentlemen Baristas Coffee House just a few blocks south of us.

Gentlemen Baristas Coffee House
Gentlemen Baristas Coffee House

In addition to gentlemanly service, the coffee house has excellent coffee and tea, as well as porridge for an unusual (to us) breakfast option. We visited mainly during the week, when most customers were taking their orders away, which left us free to hog a table in the atmospheric brick and wood back room.