Travel | The Streets of Lisbon

Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

If you’re a design geek, it’s perhaps nearly impossible not to fall in love with Lisbon’s architecture and the colorful tiles (azulejos) that adorn so many of the buildings.  A huge highlight for me was simply getting lost in the winding streets and snapping away to my heart’s content.  Since I told you all about my visit in my last post, I’ll keep this post short on words and long on photographs.

Arco da Rua Augusta | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Arco da Rua Augusta
Arco da Rua Augusta | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Arco da Rua Augusta
Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, including the Casa dos Bicos | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, including the Casa dos Bicos
Near the cathedral | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Near the cathedral
Facade of a building in Saldanha | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Facade of a building in Saldanha
Green and orange azulejos | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Green and orange azulejos
Tiles in the Alfama neighborhood | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Tiles in the Alfama neighborhood
Green azulejos | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Green azulejos
Sea green azulejos | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Sea green azulejos
Elevador de Santa Justa | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Elevador de Santa Justa
Rossio railway station | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Rossio railway station
Rossio railway station | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Rossio railway station
Azulejos at Mercado da Ribeira | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Azulejos at Mercado da Ribeira
Lisbon archway | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Beco do Bugio | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Beco do Bugio
Turquoise azulejos | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Turquoise azulejos
Bairro Alto | The Streets of Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed
Bairro Alto

Amazing, right?  Inspires me to further explore Portugal, like Sintra and Porto!  For even more pictures from my time is Lisbon, click on over to my Flickr album and my Instagram account.

Would you decorate your home with these colorful tiles?  What was your favorite building in Lisbon?


Travel | Two Free Days in Lisbon

Two Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

I am constantly struck by how many beautiful places there are in the world and Lisbon is definitely one of those places!  I unexpectedly fell head over heels for Lisboa and really can’t wait to go back.  The majority of my time in Portugal’s capital city was spent at a conference at the university, although luckily for us that also included two events in the gorgeous city hall (Câmara Municipal).  To make the most of my time there, I added two days to my trip — one at the beginning and one at the end — so I could at least get a little taste of what Lisbon has to offer.

It’s so easy to just wander through the city, getting lost and enjoying the views.  In fact, that would be my first recommendation if you’ve got some time on your hands.  The streets, the buildings, the hills, the panoramas — it is all incredibly breathtaking and lends itself exceptionally well to wandering.  My favorite thing to do was admire the beautiful tiles (azulejo) typical of Portuguese architecture — so just like I did for Malta, I’ll dedicate a separate post completely to Lisbon’s buildings.

But first let me share some of the other highlights from my two free days in Lisbon…


Waterfront | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

Maybe it’s because I grew up near the Puget Sound, but the waterfront of any city seems to be the first place I am drawn towards.  Lisbon’s offers a fantastic view of the Ponte 25 de Abril — a bridge which draws many comparisons to the Golden Gate Bridge — and the Cristo Rei across the water — a statue inspired by Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.  I especially liked the stretch between the Terreiro do Paço and Cais do Sodré subway stations, with plenty of little food and drink stands along the way to enjoy the sun and cool breezes.


Mosteiro dos Jeronimos | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

Belém is a waterfront suburb steeped in a rich maritime history, located about a 20-minute tram ride away from central Lisbon.  You can take #15 tram there from Cais do Sodré, but give yourself plenty of time.  When I traveled there on a Tuesday afternoon, the trams were jam packed with tourists and only ran very irregularly.  Belém is so popular because it houses some of Lisbon’s main attractions, like the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the Torre de Belém — not to  mention the Antiga Confeitaria de Belémwhich purportedly sells the best pastel de nata (a traditional custard cream tart) in the whole city.

If you’re in the mood for something sweet, make sure to either show up early or bring your patience with you because the line can wind down the block!  I almost gave up any hope of trying their famous pastel de nata, but luckily I saw some colleagues closer to the front of the line and cut in with them.  Totally worth it!  The tarts are small enough to devour in about two big bites and you can sprinkle some powdered sugar or cinnamon on them too.


Ocean near Cascais | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

After devouring the pastel de nata, I was joined my colleagues on a spontaneous drive out to Portugal’s beaches along the Cascais coast.  Being able to splash around in the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy the warm weather with soft sand between my toes was a most pleasant surprise for me that afternoon, and I would highly recommend taking a side trip out of the city if the weather is nice!   Although it’s quicker to travel by car, Cascais is also accessible by train from Lisbon’s city center.

Castelo de São Jorge

View from the Castelo de Sao Jorge | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

Castelo de Sao Jorge | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

Castelo de Sao Jorge | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

The Castelo de São Jorge is one of Lisbon’s main tourist attractions and rightly so, offering some of the best views of the city and the waterfront below.  Originally a Moorish castle, and it was eventually turned into a castle for the Portuguese kings in the 14th century, and has also been used subsequently as a prison and army barracks.  These days it’s quite a lovely place to spend a couple of hours enjoying the panoramas and climbing along the ramparts.  I visited in the late evening as the sun was going down and was treated to a lovely golden light pouring over the city.  Another plus: there are peacocks wandering the grounds and they’re quite fun to watch!

Mercado de Ribeira

Mercado da Ribeira | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

Mercado da Ribeira | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

Pad Thai at Mercado da Ribeira | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

For my last day in Lisbon I had booked an 11K run with Lisbon City Runners, but decided to cancel after coming down with a cold on the last couple days of the conference.  Seriously disappointing!  Instead I mustered up my energy and followed a tip on Instagram from Jess on Thames and made my way to the Mercado de Ribeira on the waterfront.  One half market selling fruits, veggies, meat, fish, and flowers, and one half trendy eatery, it’s a fantastic place to grab a bite to eat.  The eatery half brings together an impressive assortment of foods from some of Lisbon’s top chefs and restaurants under one roof — a foodie’s dream come true!  I ate some delicious pad thai while scouring my travel guide and planning my afternoon’s activities.

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara

Elevador da Gloria | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

View from the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara | Two Free Days in Lisbon | No Apathy Allowed

After lunch I wandered uphill through the narrow streets and stairways of the Bairro Alto and eventually found myself in the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, a lovely park with views out across the city and the Castelo on the hillside across the way.  I spent my last free moments in Lisbon relaxing here with a lemonade in hand.


So that’s what I managed during my two free days in Lisbon, including one day with a little less energy than normal thanks to my stupid cold.  Plus lots of wandering and photographing through the Bairro Alto, Alfama, and Baixa districts, of course.  Another post featuring the city’s gorgeous architecture is coming up soon!

P.S. There are plenty more photos in my Flickr album!

Have you traveled through Portugal?  What are your top tips?  Have you tried pastel de nata?


Five Senses Friday no. 62

Bairro Alto, Lisbon, Portugal | No Apathy Allowed
A sneak peek at my photos from Lisbon!

This week has gone by in a flash as I adjusted back to Bremen life after several days in Lisbon.  I have a couple of major projects distracting me at the moment, but as soon as I find a way to carve out some time to organize my thoughts, you’ll be hear plenty from me about my new favorite city!  (If you can’t wait, visit me over on Instagram for some photos.) In the meantime, here’s a look at the week…

Seeing. Large groups of men carousing through the parks and open spaces while pulling wagons behind them carrying alcohol. Yep, yesterday was Männertag/Vatertag/Christi Himmelfahrt (Men’s Day/Father’s Day/Ascension Day) — please don’t ask me to explain why they’re all combined into one celebration — and apparently that’s what German men like to do on their holiday.

Hearing. An improv/jazz pianist from California play a concert in Die Glocke.

Tasting. My first ice cream of the season!

Smelling. Even with a cold it’s hard to miss the smell of the lilacs in bloom.  My favorite!

Feeling. I bought a new pair of shoes that apparently need some major breaking in, so now the back of my heels are rubbed raw.  I seriously hope they’re worth it.

Happy Friday!  How has your week been? Feel free to join in if you would like! And for more Five Senses, visit Life Simplistic and Travel with Emily. 


Five Senses Friday no. 61

Entryway tile in the Viertel | No Apathy Allowed

May 1st, May Day, Labour Day, erster Mai, Tag der Arbeit, International Worker’s Day — whatever you like to call it, today is a holiday in Germany and many other countries.  Here (at least in the three cities that I’ve lived in) it typically means grilling, picnicking, and demonstrations , including some stone throwing, some torching of cars, and plenty of cops in riot gear.  All in good fun!  But on to my five senses…

Seeing. I was running late and hurrying along the busy Ostertorsteinweg in Bremen’s Viertel when I noticed this entryway in the photo above that stopped me in my tracks.  Isn’t the tile just gorgeous?  I’ve probably passed by here a thousand times, but it’s the first time I’ve noticed it.  Life’s funny that way, isn’t it?

Hearing. The last of Kevin Spacey’s South Carolinian accent after finally finishing Season Three of House of Cards.

Tasting. I had the most delicious vegan lasagne last night at Filosoof, made from cabbage and chickpeas. Who knew!

Smelling. It’s been a rather dry April for Bremen standards, so it’s actually nice to smell the rain on the wet pavement. (Even though I wouldn’t mind having it a little warmer.)

Feeling. I’ve fallen asleep during a couple of my meditation sessions this week (which totally defeats the purpose of cultivating presence in the moment, but oh well) — so I guess I’ve been feeling a bit tired.

Happy Friday!  How has your week been? Feel free to join in if you would like! And for more Five Senses, visit Life Simplistic and Travel with Emily. 


My History of Glasses

My collection of glasses | No Apathy Allowed

I didn’t start wearing glasses until I was in college.  One day I went to renew my driver’s license and was horrified to find out that I failed the eye exam.  As a child I didn’t have any problems with my eyesight, but it slowly deteriorated after many years in front of books and computer screens.  I hated the glasses I bought and wore them only for driving or for seeing the chalkboard in lecture halls (back in the olden days before PowerPoint).   Glasses just didn’t fit the image I had of myself and I didn’t think it would ever be possible to like wearing glasses.  As soon as I could, I made the switch to contact lenses and pretty much abandoned glasses completely.

But due to a funny twist of fate, I ended up working for an optometrist in downtown Seattle for a couple of years before I headed to grad school in New York. Let’s just say, it didn’t take long for my coworkers to help me find a cool pair of glasses that I loved.  And thanks to our wholesale employee discount on frames and lenses, I soon had an impressive collection of at least half-a-dozen pairs of glasses.  They became a fun accessory that I actually enjoyed wearing — who knew?

Over the years my tastes changed and so did my prescription.  By the time I moved to Germany, I had three pairs of glasses with updated prescriptions that remained my favorites — my red Lafonts, my black and white Lafonts, and a mauve pair of half-rimmed Modos.*  But even I have to admit that my frames from the early 2000s are definitely no longer at the height of fashion (surprise, surprise).  Plus, my eyesight had worsened over the last couple of years — should have known that a PhD would destroy it even further — so I bit the bullet last month and finally bought a new pair of glasses.

My collection of glasses | No Apathy Allowed
One of these is not like the others…

After reading about Kate’s awesome experience with Ace & Tate, I played around with the idea of ordering different frames to try on at home before deciding which ones I like best.  But I knew my image of myself in glasses was very dated — almost all my old glasses are cat-eye shaped, if that tells you anything — and that it would be difficult to have an objective view of which frames actually look best on me.  Sometimes it’s just easier for someone who doesn’t really know you at all to help you find something both suitable and stylish — I had experienced that plenty of times from the opposite perspective with our patients back in Seattle.  So I made an appointment at a highly recommended optical practice** in Bremen and placed my trust in their experience.

It actually didn’t take too long to find the pair, although I don’t think I would have stumbled upon them if I had been left to my own devices.   The frames are matte and olive green with a bit of tortoiseshell design that adds a hint of transparence from certain perspectives.  Although it’s a total coincidence, I also love that they’re made by Hamburg Eyewear as part of their Heimat & Hafen (Home & Harbor) collection — just seems so fitting somehow.  The lenses are indeed quite a bit larger than what I was previously used to, so it has taken a bit of time for me to adjust, but I couldn’t be happier!

My history of glasses

I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to update the lenses in my old frames yet.  For now I’m content with having just one pair.  But it won’t be too many years before I’ll start needing reading glasses (yikes!), so maybe I’ll just hang on to them and put them to good use then?!

Do you wear glasses?  Love them or hate them?  Do you bring friends with you to try on new frames?

* This might be a good place to make clear that this post is not sponsored in any way, shape, or form.  Actually, that’s always the case on my blog, but it’s perhaps worth pointing out.

** It works a bit differently here in Germany than in the US.  For new glasses or contact lenses, you visit a highly trained optician, while you save your visit to the eye doctor for dealing with issues related to eye health (glaucoma, infections, etc.).  Admittedly I was a bit skeptical of this at first, but it worked out just fine.


Five Senses Friday no. 60

Alexander von Humboldt has dropped anchor in Bremen! | No Apathy Allowed
The Alexander von Humboldt has dropped anchor in Bremen!

Wow, another seven days come and gone while I’m busy plotting and planning and dreaming.  Most excitingly, I’m attending an upcoming conference in Lisbon in a couple weeks and you can be sure I will be packing in as much eating and sightseeing as I can manage!  It’s been way too long since my last trip to anywhere other than the usual suspects (Hamburg, Hannover, and Berlin) — could my last real trip have been to Langeoog?  Wow.  Anyway, one week at a time…

Seeing.  In the neighborhood for a flea market, I couldn’t help but notice that the Alexander von Humboldt has recently made it’s home in Bremen’s Europahafen.  Built in 1906 as a firefighting ship, it’s now apparently best known for it’s starring role in Beck’s beer commercials.  Fitting then, that she’s resting not too far from the Beck’s brewery.

Hearing. The birds are also clearly excited for spring!  I swear they’re chirping before I wake up and long after I go to sleep.

Tasting.  Freshly brewed coffee, which I’ve been drinking black these last couple days since I’m apparently too lazy to go pick up some milk.

Smelling.  There’s nothing better than the sea breeze.

Feeling.  My new glasses are digging a bit into my ears, so I’ll have to take them in for an adjustment.  (I’ll be posting about them soon, I promise.)

Feel free to join in if you would like! And for more Five Senses, visit Life Simplistic and Travel with Emily. How has your week been?


Street Food | The Berlin Village Market

Neue Heimat at RAW

I don’t know about other runners, but after a particularly hard or long run, my body responds best when I keep on moving instead of dropping immediately on the couch for the rest of the day. Even though I usually want to do nothing more than eat and sleep, staying active after the run helps keep my muscles from getting too stiff or sore.

So I was very happy after the Berlin half marathon a couple weeks ago to take a short walk over to the RAW-Gelände with a friend and check out the Berlin Village Market at Neue Heimat, a weekly street food market in Friedrichshain. It’s been around since August of last year, so it’s nothing new to Berliners. But the last time I was at RAW, the two main buildings used for Neue Heimat were either abandoned or occupied by a mega-video game center (glad that’s gone). A former industrial complex, RAW is one of my favorite repurposed public spaces in all of Berlin. When I lived in Friedrichshain, Cassiopeia was my favorite outdoor beer garden/rock climbing facility/outdoor cinema for enjoying the summer weather.

2015-03-30 07.32.17 1

Neue Heimat at RAW

Anyway, after paying 2 Euros entrance (which had just recently doubled from the previous 1 Euro entrance fee), we were allowed in to the Village Market.*  I immediately zeroed in on the best BLT sandwich in all of Germany and I never let go. I mean, how could you not love bourbon and maple syrup caramelized bacon, cheddar, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and homemade sriracha mayonnaise? SO GOOD you guys. Thanks to the folks at The Future Breakfast for selling this treat. It was the perfect post-race recovery food. (The Süßkartoffel-Kürbis Stampf from another stand was pretty tasty too!)

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The best BLT I've ever had

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2015-03-30 07.35.11 1

The weather that day wasn’t great, so we found ourselves some seats amongst the crowded tables and benches indoors. I was quite tempted to grab a wine or a cocktail to enjoy along with the live jazz band playing, but I smartly stuck to my bottle of water to keep myself hydrated.

All in all, a great post-race afternoon before I had to catch the train back to Bremen.

Have you been to the Berlin Village Market or Neue Heimat before? Any favorite food vendors there? Or are you loyal to one of the other street food events in Berlin?

* Although not expensive, I didn’t love the entrance fee.  Among other things, it seems like a clear effort to exclude certain members of the community.  Which it seemed to do very effectively, by the way, eliminating any real F’hain authenticity (in my opinion.)