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Lisbon vs. San Francisco: Are the Comparisons True?

If you’ve heard someone talk about Lisbon, you’ve probably heard them compare it to San Francisco. But, is it true? Could Lisbon, founded in 1255, really have that much in common with San Francisco, founded hundreds of years later?

In short, yes. Lisbon and San Francisco do have some striking similarities:

1) The cable cars

2) They were both built atop seven hills


3) They’re both situated on the water

4) They both have an orange suspension bridge

6) An affinity for colorful apartment buildings

7) Cool street art


But between the two, I left my heart in San Francisco.

Have you been to both SF and Lisbon? What do you think about the comparisons?

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Lisbon: Not What I Expected

I look at visiting new cities as one may look at going on a blind date. Some cities you connect with and want to see again, while others leave little to be desired. Unfortunately for me, Lisbon, Portugal was the latter.

I usually never completely write off places and vow to never return, but honestly, I’d be hard-pressed to find a reason to return to Lisbon. It wasn’t horrible, and there wasn’t one particular bad experience that left a sour taste in my mouth, it was more like a series of small disappointments.

I’m not going to go into details, but it was far too many encounters with terrible service and rude people (and one instance of excellent service I’ll tell you about later), underwhelming Portugese food, and a fairly dirty, run-down city.

But, I’m not going to dwell on the bad stuff.

Instead, I’m going to say what I liked about Lisbon, because I understand everyone experiences things different and I definitely don’t want to prevent you from visiting Lisbon just because it wasn’t my cup of tea.

The People

Just as much as my encounters with the locals made any chance for loving Lisbon impossible, there’s always just as many nice people to balance things out. From the sweet old couple who gave me directions in their patient Portuguese, while I replied in Spanish, to an awesome waiter who hand-picked my meal, the people I met both made my day, and pissed me off all in one fell swoop!

The (Small) Resemblance to San Francisco

From the trams zipping around the city, to the slightly-less-impressive Golden Gate lookalike, there were little reminders of San Francisco around Lisbon. I can dig that.

The Cupcakes?

The whole cupcake craze just hasn’t hit Spain as hard as in other places. The major cities may have a shop or two, but since I’m not in Barcelona or Madrid too terribly often, I turned to my friend Google to see if Lisbon had cupcakes, since I was visiting. I found this most adorable cupcake shop that reminds you of a continuous giant tea party. I may or may not have tried Red Velvet, Coconut AND Strawberry Cheesecake in one weekend. They were to die for!

The Neighborhoods

Thanks to the advice of fans over on my Facebook Page, I was able to narrow down the best neighborhoods to spend my time in Lisbon. Barrio Alto and Chiado was where I spent most of my time, dining at little hole-in-the-wall establishments, wandering through the parks and plazas and snapping away with my camera.

I’ve been to my fair share of European capital cities, and Lisbon, I’m sorry, but you’re just not my type.

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I'm Christine - a 25 year old expat living la vida Española on the Mediterranean coast in Spain!

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Street art
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Arcade Fire
Hiking the redwoods
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