I flew from Bogotá to Lisbon in order to spend a weekend pitching a startup company I had been developing in Bogotá. The goal was to determine if the opportunity has merit and is worth pursuing, using impartial judges to test against my own bias. I had about two days to explore the city, the remainder of the time I was in an office with our rag-tag band of misfits (previously strangers) and together we built a presentation to pitch in front of a panel of judges, using the business plan I had previously developed as a guide. We finished third place out of twelve other teams, a disappointing result as I felt we deserved to win, but the rest of the team was pleased. I continue to develop the idea and formulate the business.
I had never been to Lisbon or Portugal before and exploring a new city and country are two of my favorite things to do. My network of travel friends has raved about Lisbon on account of great food, wine and lower costs compared to the rest of Western Europe. The city surprised with its ideal weather, friendly people, English-accessibility and scenic architecture and urban landscapes. It would seem that there is an army of salaried gardeners always working to curate the many public gardens, covered with plants and flowers of every variety. When I turned a corner and stumbled upon a surprise monument or architectural marvel increasingly it felt unconscionable that I had never previously considered Lisbon as a place that I wanted to visit. Really the issue was that I was never aware that Lisbon is such a wonderful place– another indicator that in my constant quest to reduce my own ignorance I continue to make progress.
There are a lot of comparisons made between San Francisco and Lisbon owing to a mini-Golden Gate Bridge that crosses a river (that looks a lot like the San Francisco Bay). Additionally steep hills spread many parts of the city making walking also a means to exercise. There’s also the seafood thing – bachlau is the traditional dish (cod) and is served on practically every menu in a variety of ways. There are also giant prawns, octopus, shrimp and too-many varieties of fish. If you are a seafood lover — Lisbon is your type to place to eat and if you like San Francisco you’ll probably enjoy Lisbon.
I hit some of the famous sites and supplemented exploration with wandering too. I stayed in an Airbnb apartment within walking distance to the office I was working out of and very accessible to the rest of the city by foot and Uber. Lisbon is a photogenic city and at a certain point the obligation of taking another scenic cityscape felt onerous; a pitiless burden for a photographer-hobbyist.
Truth is though, I’m a little late to catch-on that Lisbon is great; there are plenty of tourists here during the summer though locals related that this is a phenomenon that has only really started over the past 5 years or so and that in the off-season they (we) aren’t around. Still, relative to more popular destinations crowds aren’t so bad and if they don’t bother you as much as they annoy me you might not even notice or be inconvenienced by them. I recommend others consider Lisbon as a vacation destination; I myself am excited to return here when the crowds die down and the summer heat is replaced by cooler Autumn temperatures.