lisbon pt. 2 of 2

More from this beautifully melancholy, golden city.

(Having a quick coffee at Martinho da Arcada; we found out about this place via this entry on Freunde von Freunden)

(These last few were taken from the top of the Santa Justa Lift after a drink with the exceptionally lovely Joana, who I hope to see again!)


lisbon pt. 1 of 2

“Lisbon, even from afar, rises like a fair vision in a dream, clear-cut against a bright blue sky which the sun gladdens with its gold. And the domes, the monuments, the old castles jut up above the mass of houses, like far-off heralds of this delightful seat, of this blessed region.”
-Fernando Pessoa, Lisbon: What the Tourist Should See

Pictured here: evidence of perfect weather every day (25-30 degrees Celsius, clear blue skies). Walks through Alfama, walks through Chiado. Walking along the Avenida da Liberdade, a tree-lined boulevard. A Vida Portuguesa, a shop selling traditional products (housed in a former perfume factory). An art opening in an 18th century palace. The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, the National Coach Museum. Tropical gardens. Churches, marble, coffee at kiosks Clara Clara and Bananacafe.

Not pictured here: walking up hills that seemed to have an incline of 85 degrees (I loved it). Getting to the top of a narrow alleyway staircase, my back screaming, noticing the staircase is actually called “Backbreaker Lane.” Drinking wine in the courtyard of a palace. Hidden passageways, espresso multiple times a day, the smell of juniper, dried-out palm trees, pastel buildings, Art Nouveau details. Ice cream made of rose petals. The friendliest and most helpful people (except that one cab driver). Possibly a lot of ghosts. The most heart-achingly romantic trip of my life.


a night at the inspira santa marta hotel, lisbon

Geoff and I are back from our trip to Portugal! It truly was too short but it was so, so wonderful. I can’t wait to see our pictures—our stubborn insistence on using mostly film cameras means that we always have to be a little extra patient to see our photos, since so many labs don’t seem to offer quick processing any longer.

In the meantime, I wanted to share one experience we had in Lisbon, which was our night at the Inspira Santa Marta Hotel just off the tree-lined boulevard Avenida da Liberdade. This stay was generously provided for us by the hotel in conjunction with the booking service Splendia, which specializes in luxury and boutique hotels with distinct character.

I have to preface this by saying that I love hotels and have yet to rent an apartment while traveling. I may be missing out, but I think this is partially because when I was little we never stayed in hotels; I slept, sometimes miserably, on a lot of sofas. I love being greeted at the door, I love being able to call down to the front desk at any hour of the day, I love room service. It feels luxurious not to have to make my own bed. Still, I usually look at a hotel as a place where I will sleep and store my things. When we checked in at the Inspira Santa Marta and were told we had full access to the Turkish bath, I was a little sad we didn’t have time to have a longer retreat in the hotel as our days were packed with taking in this beautiful city.


Steps to the spa—we were told that since Portugal does not produce lumber, the wood for the lobby was sustainably forested from northern Europe 

Inspira Santa Marta occupies what was once a palace (it seems that Lisbon is full of former palaces!) and a factory, retaining the facade, and as is typical for Lisbon, it is built into a small hill. The street outside is quite busy and loud, but inside the hotel is uncannily peaceful. The design of the hotel incorporates Feng Shui principles to create this calm feeling, and each of the rooms is decorated according to one of the five elements: earth, fire, water, wood, or metal. Geoff and I stayed in an earth-themed room.

While I was getting a tour of the hotel, Geoff stayed in our room to map out our day’s adventure. The water bottle on the table is one part of the hotel’s ethical policy: proceeds from sales of the water, which is filtered and bottled and sold in the hotel shop, go directly to PumpAid. The hotel has a wide-ranging commitment to environmental sustainability and community involvement, and is Green Globe certified.

The view outside our window

Just a little bathroom selfie while making selfie-face, you know how it is

Just love this wood!

For our other nights in Lisbon we stayed at a four-star hotel I had found online without much research. It was perfectly fine but the breakfast in particular demonstrated the gulf that can exist between one four-star hotel and another. The breakfast at the Inspira Santa Marta was delicious, made with locally sourced, fresh ingredients, and we could see the chefs cooking it in the open kitchen. Breakfast at our other hotel consisted of coffee from a vending machine and prepackaged croissants. Horror!

Lisbon was built on seven hills, just like Rome, so this view of the north side of the hotel is one you might see quite often.

Rua Santa Marta in the morning (the hotel is peeking out of the left corner)

Obviously, we loved our stay at the hotel. The service was exceptional, the room clean and comfortable, and the location just right. We both fell in love with Lisbon and hope we can stay at this hotel when we (inevitably) return. Thank you, Inspira Santa Marta!