Lisbon Is My New Favourite City

by thelostboy
October 27, 2011 3:33 AM
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So I spent the past 4 days in Lisbon, Portugal - which I've blogged nothing about if only because I wanted to enjoy every moment of my time there. A local said to me upon arrival: "You either love Lisbon... or you really like it." Count me in the former.

One of the warmest cities in Europe - both in terms of the weather and the people - Lisbon felt to me a kindred spirit to my two other favourite cities: Berlin and Montreal. All three have scores of clever, artistic people everywhere that have a very easygoing approach to life and this organic sense of fun. Perhaps even more so than the others, Lisbon is such an easy city to feel comfortable in because its people are so approachable and non-judgemental. The hipsterdom of Berlin and Montreal has a much more relaxed, unpretentious sibling in Lisbon.

The downside is that even more so than Berlin or Montreal, Lisbon is clearly very poor. But it doesn't seem to bother anyone. Unlike London, where all I heard on the news or in cafes was "recession this or that" with a serious, fearful tone.. Lisbon folk laugh it off: "Well, we've always been poor."

And being poor isn't the end of the world when everything is super cheap: The immensely efficient subway cost one euro, a cab to the airport costs only 10, an espresso is 50 cents, university is 1,000 euros tuition, and a bottle of totally drinkable wine is 85 cents.

As a result of all this there's this relative freeness from materialism. People just buy what they need and they're fine with that. And that's so fucking refreshing to be around, and washes off on you a bit. I spent under 20 euros a day... And I was doing everything I wanted to be doing.

As a result of this little experience I will expose a severely geeky pastime of mine: Whenever I leave a city - usually in the airport - I update an excel spreadsheet that judges said city in 13 different categories based on my personal wants and needs from an urban area. "Overall energy" gets a score out of 20 points, and then 12 other categories are worth 10 points: Beauty, cost, transportation, sexiness, people, culture, professional opportunity, nightlife, weather, queer positivity, safety, and finally, health consciousness (which includes the general health consciousness of the population as well as my own lifestyle tendencies while there, access to health foods, bicycle paths, yoga and gyms).

Out of a score of 140, here's the top 10 of 24 cities ranked thus far. In brackets are the categories the city had perfect scores in. Lisbon, my dear friend, is now tied with Berlin for #1:

1. Berlin, Germany: 120 (cost, transportation, culture, sexiness, nightlife, queer positivity)
1. Lisbon, Portugal: 120 (beauty, cost, people, queer positivity, nightlife, weather)
3. Montreal, Quebec: 115 (cost, queer positivity, people)
4. Copenhagen, Denmark: 114 (beauty, transportation, queer positivity, safety)
5. San Francisco, California: 110 (beauty, queer positivity, health)
6. New York, New York: 109 (culture, professional opportunity, nightlife)
7. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: 108 (beauty, transportation, queer positivity)
8. Reykjavik, Iceland: 105 (beauty, people)
9. London, England: 100 (beauty, culture)
9. Toronto, Ontario: 100 (people, health)
9. Austin, Texas: 100 (people, weather)

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  • Melissa | September 27, 2013 10:23 PMReply

    Thanks for this post. I have the same kind of running tab on where I want to live out my 30s- Montreal and Berlin are also in top spots.
    Another consideration I had that was really important is that the city is a 24 hour city.
    Have you been to Cairo or Beirut? Apparently those are some of the most 24 hour cities and I can imagine them to be on the affordable side.

  • BrunoRoda | December 28, 2011 12:22 PMReply

    I'm portuguese... I born in a different city than Lisbon but since 2006 I'm living on here... I've been living in London in 2005 and I already visit some cities and capitals around the world, as you can see on this link - - and I must admit that Lisbon is a great, special and beautiful city... and definitely deserves to be on the World Top 10.

  • Luís Santos | December 28, 2011 9:27 AMReply

    Always great to read such fine words. Portugal is indeed one of the best places on Earth, the thing is, that we only know that after we see other places.
    Please come again, there is so pleanty places here you must see.
    All the best...

  • Pedro Leitão | December 28, 2011 7:53 AMReply

    Nice to read such an article flattering "our" city!! For you guys who would like to shoot in Lisbon, I advice you a new production company which main purpose is to promote Portugal as a place to shoot:

  • Carlos Alves | December 28, 2011 6:06 AMReply

    It's great to read such a noce article about Lisbon!
    Lisbon is in fact a very nice city to live, work or visit, and i believe that the 4 days you spent here weren't enough to visit everything, but now you know that you just have to come back again!

    Thanks for your very positive description... we need more reviews like these!

  • Isabel Osório | December 28, 2011 6:04 AMReply

    I suggested that next visit to Portugal is the city of Porto.
    A short video made ​​by a tourist,
    Thank you for feeling at home when he was in my country.

  • Maria Afonso | December 28, 2011 5:44 AMReply

    Lisbon can boast wonderful weather, compared to many important cities, and is not so big that you can't go anywhere easily. Yes, we love to welcome visitors, and yes, life is cheaper than in many other places. Come back for some more days and we'll show you some of the hidden secrets of our city. You'll enjoy them! I'm glad you loved Lisbon!

  • Maria Afonso | December 28, 2011 5:43 AMReply

    Lisbon can boast wonderful weather, compared to many importante cities, and is not so big that you can't go anywhere easily. Yes, we love to welcome visitors, and yes, life is cheaper than in many other places. Come back for some more days and we'll show you some of the hidden secrets of our city. You'll enjoy them! I'm glad you loved Lisbon!

  • Fred | November 3, 2011 10:30 AMReply

    indispensable tourist survey !

  • MR | October 27, 2011 7:51 AMReply

    I moved from NY to Lisbon almost a decade ago. It's amazing how this city forces you to slow things down to really appreciate life. Things are not always easy (good paying jobs are hard to find) but overall there is actually a very good quality of life here. Quality of life is not measured by income but by the freedom or opportunity to be yourself and live at peace, with time to enjoy the little things in life (eating, drinking, beach, etc.). Lisbon also captivates for its authenticity and unconventional beauty (the hilltop views like that of your photo always inspires me no matter how many times I see them). I love Lisbon and after visiting over two dozens countries, I am certain it's one of the most special places on E Earth.

  • patricia | October 27, 2011 4:27 AMReply

    As a Portuguese citizen, born in Lisbon, where I also work, I would like to thank you for your kind words.

    It is nice to know you had a good time here.


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