It was the last stone house that we saw that day. Surrounded by 3,000 thousand square metres of yellow grass and olive trees, this small Portuguese cottage was exactly what I'd been dreaming about. The heat made it hard to gather thoughts, but the truth was that I’d already made a decision: all I could see in my mind’s eye was having a morning coffee with fresh figs in that very garden.

It needs a lot of work, this house of mine. The old wood is being eaten by woodworms; water can be only be found in the garden well. But at least the Portuguese dream has started to materialise. I know it will take years to renovate, but the idea is to create a unique space where travellers and friends can stay & catch their breath surrounded by nature, hypnotised by the hills in the horizon. Herbal baths, varied workshops and local, fresh veggie food will be a part of that. The dream is also to organise a small folk festival since the land gives enough space for camping and a wooden stage. 

There is something magical about central Portugal, where people lead a slow-paced life, in time with the rhythm of the heart. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay there long as I had to catch a flight to London in a few days. Feeling like it was all just a dream, I arrived in buzzing Lisbon. There is chaos in the Portuguese capital, a sweet one, smelling of coffee and melted cheese. It manifests itself in labyrinths of tiny streets that always seem to lead upwards.

Lisbon's heart was beating faster than my own when I was climbing the stairs of Barrio Alto. Every day I walked about 15 kilometres, getting lost on a regular basis, finding things that are not in travel guides. I was travelling on my own exploring Lisbon's corners, carrying my camera, which was getting heavier with every hour and a bottle of water. They let me fill it up in every cafe I went to. I walked all the way up from the hills of Lapa, where embassies are located, to the flat centre of Baixa and up again, to the famous Alfama and less-known Graca.

Lisbon is a city that should be explored by foot, so as not to miss the tiny cafes located in the narrow streets, where locals have their aromatic espresso & pasteis de nata, and the small workshops where you can take a peek at the work and lives of the Portuguese people. By the end of my stay, I was hooked. Not only on coffee and pastries or my favourite cheese toasties, but also addicted to the air of freedom and pulse of the city, the warmth of the streets and smiles of local people.

Text and photos by Agna at I Saw Pictures