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Six Reasons Why Lisbon Made Me Nostalgic for San Francisco

A feeling of dÉjà vu washed over me when we landed in Lisbon and set out on foot to explore the city for the first time.  As the days passed, I finally figured out what it was.  Lisbon totally reminded me of San Francisco.  We live in Dublin now and were visiting Portugal on a city break from Ireland.  However, San Francisco was home for two periods of our lives spanning about 8 years so we know the city well and miss it on occasion.  Here are six reasons why Lisbon made me nostalgic for San Francisco.  


6. The Street Art

TravelGumbo - Lisbon


TravelGumbo SF

I noticed street art nearly everywhere we went in Lisbon (top) particularly along the tram tracks.  Some was richly colored, other pieces were almost fading away.  San Francisco (bottom) has a vibrant street art scene particularly in the Mission neighborhood where Clarion Row spans an entire city block and is chock-a-block with edgy creations.  


5. The Hills

lisbon hills


San francisco hills

My quads were definitely burning as we ascended from the Baixa neighborhood of Lisbon toward Castelo Sao Jorge (top).  It was a feeling all too familiar from our days in San Francisco where we’d huff and puff from the Marina up to Pacific Heights (bottom).  


4.  The Wine

wine lisbon


sf wine jug

In Lisbon (top), we took the opportunity to sample wines from across a wide range of Portuguese growing regions at ViniPortugal.  In San Francisco, wine tasting opportunities abound from local evening events at places like The Jug Shop to weekend excursions to Napa or Sonoma.  


3. The Trams

TravelGumbo - Lisbon1


SF Street car

We boarded the 28E tram in Lisbon and rattled our way around a circuit of the city (top).  Where had I felt this sensation before?  Oh San Francisco.  The F-Market line (bottom) provides a new home for street cars from around the world incorporating them in the MUNI public transit network. The iconic cable car is also a San Francisco treat.


2. The Bay

lisbon bay


sf bay

Lisbon overlooks a picturesque bay (top).  San Francisco is the ‘City by the Bay’ and is magnificent when viewed just beyond the Palace of Fine Arts (bottom).


1.  The Golden Gate Bridge

lisbon golden gate


sf golden gate

Lisbon has its very own Golden Gate Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril) which is the spitting image of the original in San Francisco.  Ironically, Ponte 25 de Abril was built by the American Bridge Company which constructed the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, but not the Golden Gate.

Now it’s completely clear to me why Lisbon seemed so familiar despite it being our first visit.  San Francisco is our favorite city in the U.S. and we couldn’t help but adopt Lisbon as one of our European favorites by the end of this trip.



Images (12)
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  • lisbon golden gate
  • lisbon hills
  • San francisco hills
  • sf bay
  • sf golden gate
  • SF Street car
  • sf wine jug
  • TravelGumbo - Lisbon
  • TravelGumbo - Lisbon1
  • TravelGumbo SF
  • wine lisbon

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Comments (5)

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Thanks for this really special blog that links two cities I've only visited but have come to love. Of course, San Francisco can't live up to my description of Lisbon as "steep, but cheap!"

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

When I'm in San Francisco I love the Micro Breweries.

The sampler tray is a must have in each bar.

But when you're in Lisbon just try the Sagres Lager.

Often named as the Best Beer in Europe you'll be pleasantly surprised !

Nothing like a "Lite" Beer, it has a wonderful taste and sparkle.

Or try a sparkling  Mateus Rose if wine is your preference.

Thanks, @PHeymont!  You're totally right that SF cannot be described as 'steep but cheap'.  It's definitely the former but not the latter.  The quirkiness of San Francisco is hard to put a price on though. 

@GarryRF - I'm more of a wine person but did enjoy a Sagres or two in Portugal.  You can't beat the price.  Love the microbreweries in San Francisco and agree that the tasting trays are definitely the way to go!

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