Hiding out in Lisbon

Traveler: Jonathan Randall Grant – Writer & Founder

What is your most unforgettable escape? Lisbon. I went for a month last February.

What was the purpose of your travel? To Hide. I had a lot of writing deadlines, and Paris was proving far too distracting… so I had to get away. We chose Lisbon because we didn’t know anyone there.

With how many people did you travel? With two friends- Andrew and Marianne Nicodem. They are photographers from Chicago. Also- Marianne speaks Portuguese, so we were confident we could navigate the culture.

Where did you stay? Airbnb at Martin Moniz – it’s a central neighbourhood, that is very diverse. The square bears the name of a person, who was crushed to death by the castle gate during the siege of Lisbon from the Moors in 1147.

What did you most like about the trip? The pace of Lisbon was lovely, and I found the city to be very natural and elegant. I was able to write everyday, and because of the city being new to me, I could walk out the door and discover something new. I got so much writing done.

Everyday we would pick a new neighborhood and have coffee. We wandered, and we met so many photographers, illustrators, creatives the most fantastic people.

Could you share an unforgettable memory about the trip? One day, a new friend took me to visit his family’s village a few hours from Lisbon on the coast. It was great to hear about small town life, and to get his perspective.

Your most surprising find during the trip? Many Portuguese people told me with urgency about the great earthquake of 1755. Such a vital piece of World History, led to the Enlightenment, but I had never heard of it, even as a history student. To the people I met in Lisbon, it seemed like the earthquake had happened last year.

I was also really impressed by the love of poetry and music and how it was integrated in daily life.

Favorite restaurant(s) or food you have tried during your trip? Mostly we cooked for ourselves. But I did find a favorite coffeeshop: Ao Pé da Sé. I went every day to write. It is cute and cozy. It may sound cliche but the best food in the city has to be the Pastel de Nata. I also recommend drinking Amarguinha.

What are the must tries of the city?
The coffeeshop Ao Pé da Sé

Belin, a part of Lisbon, it’s fantastic, it used to be a different town.

Pastel de nata.

Case Independente is a great place to hang out and catch concerts.

Any hidden gems you could whisper to us? They have many botanical gardens, they are usually run down; underfunded and abandoned which gives its own charm and atmosphere.

Would you go back? Definitely. I will keep on coming back. The city is inexpensive and charming.

Any tips that might be useful to know before going there? Learn phrases like ‘obrigado’ . Airbnb is great, and our host helped us navigate our new environment. Check the events and pop-up spaces – markets, they’re great to discover the city as well as the LX factories which have been turned into shops.

Next stop you would like to visit? I’m heading to North Dakota. I’m nervous, and excited to document the Pipeline protest. Also headed to NYC in January to meet with publishers.

What does travelling mean to you? Travelling is a chance for me to stay connected with friends. I am a people tourist… so even when I visit places where I don’t know anyone (like Lisbon) I leave with a few friendships that I will hold on to. These days I am rather travelled-out… but a slow pace and low expectations help me stay sane while constantly travelling…