Where was I? Right. Lisbon. It’s a place you might’ve heard from watching Somebody Feed Phil, and it was definitely an influence in our decision-making process last year when we booked our trip. This vacation was a big deal for our family. This was our kids’ first time in a new country and a new continent. It was also our kids’ first flight, so they had an overnighter to start off their international adventure.
As a parent, I tried to capture our journey as best as possible. Many days, you would’ve found me lagging behind to try and capture a photo of each family member leading the way at some point. Lisbon is full of beautifully wondrous sights, and our kids were able to walk throughout a good portion of the city. Meghan and I were also experiencing Lisbon for the first time, so we were all doing our best to fully take in every step of our journey. Plus, we had a dear friend who joined us on this trip, and our kids were all the happier for it.
Lisbon’s Massive Hills Do Not Distract from the Amazing Views
Going into our trip, we had watched many travel videos where vloggers shared their experiences, including being out of breath from tremendous hills. Yes, there were many hills, but the city’s public transportation is excellent. Did we ride any trams or funiculars to bypass any of these hills? No.
Although we didn’t prep our physical fitness as well as we would’ve liked before our trip to Lisbon, we all handled our walking excursions exceptionally well. We made sure to carry water with us, along with snacks, and we were off. Some days, we had a general direction where we were going. Most days, we just wandered into a different district getting lost along the way – and I wouldn’t change those moments at all!
In one day alone, we traveled around 10 miles. Yes, we did have a paper map on hand to help us find where we were headed eventually. Meghan was the ultimate navigator for our family. She was a rockstar leading us whenever we wanted to pinpoint where we were or if we wanted to find a specific place. Getting lost was also great, because stumbling upon amazing lookout points with spectacular views was worth it.
Incredible Eats Along the Way to Exploring Something Familiar or New!
If you want to travel to a city with great food experiences, Lisbon is a go-to destination. We’re talking mouth-watering bifanas (pork sandwiches). Pastries you would be happy eating every meal of the day and that includes snacks. Amazing meats, including the most delicious sausage “I ever put in my stupid face” – and, yes, I’m quoting Phil Rosenthal, so you know how much his show means to me – and, no, I don’t have any other way of phrasing that.
Also, get out of your comfort zone, people. My wife did not have any interest in trying sardines. She loves grilled fish, but this is still on the bones and sardines have never been high on her list. But you know what? She ordered it, tried it, and liked it. Our kids tried different meat dishes, and if they’re picky about one thing (and they’re kids so they have that right), meat is one of them. And, for me, I am not a big fan of sausage. Sure, I’ll eat it, but it’s never a go-to. We stumbled upon a restaurant in the Alfama district, and it was singlehandedly the best sausage I’ve ever eaten. Yes, I know, phrasing, but there isn’t any other way to describe it. It was that good.
So, go to another country, discover beforehand (or not) what they might have, and try something new. It will change your viewpoint on your regular diet and what you might want to include moving forward. Maybe that means you have to move to that country, but is that really a bad thing? If you asked me, could I live in Lisbon? The answer is undoubtedly, “YES!”
One-of-a-Kind Family Experiences
Every family event can be one-of-a-kind. Birthdays. Weddings. Seeing one another after a long absence due to the pandemic. Life is constantly moving, even when times seem tragically tough and moving at a snail’s pace (even when it’s moving at the speed of lightning). Planning this trip was important for my family. We want to give our kids experiences unique to them. We want to have unique experiences together – and Lisbon was that type of trip.
Lisbon is the place where you look around and everything is moving. People, buses, trams, trains, bikes, scooters; everything seems to be bustling with activity. With the exception of maybe between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. when people are going about setting up their restaurants or shops, and there feels like a still presence where drinking your morning coffee is absolutely perfect to take in the beautiful blue skies, Lisbon feels alive as if the people know something special.
Life is a gift. The people of Lisbon are wonderful humans. When we tried our best at speaking Portuguese and did our best to understand what was being said to us, we were always met with smiles. Kind words. Patience. It’s like they know they’re living in one of the greatest cities in the world and want everyone else to soak up as much of it as possible during their time there. That’s what I’ll remember most – and what it was like to watch my kids in such a welcoming place.
My kids smiled a lot in Lisbon. From seeing amazing architecture inside of wonderful cathedrals, colorful buildings, gorgeous tiles designed on buildings and walkways, Marshall and Adelaide had the opportunity to see a lot of what Lisbon had to offer. From narrow walkways where cars and trams pass nearby, or eating outside of a local pizzeria in Belém where we could take in the views, their experiences and seeing them love it was a joy to watch.
Final Thoughts on Lisbon & International Travel
Go. Do it. Talk amongst yourselves, pick a location, and explore this wondrous world while we are all able to. Life is a gift, but I just blinked and my kids are already 8 and 9 going on 13 and 14. Check airfare and maybe let the cheaper flights help guide your destination. It worked for us, so I know it can work for you. Again, let’s go, people. You will find yourself smiling every day and wondering where this place has been all your life.
Go through your calendar, and even if it’s next summer, that’s okay. Book a trip in advance. You will have something to look forward to and you will enjoy learning about your destination through travel videos. Our kids loved doing that, and once we arrived, it was real. It was happening and the excitement they felt was something I could see. Nothing brings this parent more joy than to see how happy we’ve made them. Our trip to Lisbon did that – and I hope you will have the same opportunity to experience that with your kiddos.
We will do another international trip for sure. The only question we have to answer is, “Where?” I’ll keep you posted on our decisions, but in the meantime, go explore a new place and why not make it Lisbon? Who knows – maybe you’ll decide to stay there?
Until next time, friends, happy parenting and happy geeking.
Oh, one more thing: If you happen to go to Lisbon, take a day-trip to Sintra and visit Quinta da Regaleira. Trust me.