Lisbon in May is a rather different beast to Lisbon in February. The orange trees are past their harvest, having budded into full lime leaf, and instead bougainvillea, wisteria and the most eager roses drape the city streets. The avenues are full. Tourists armed with guide books and cameras lurk at every miradouro in Alfama. The quiet nooks that I first fell in love with, that rain-soaked Valentine’s weekend, were a little harder to find.
In fact, much of central Lisbon – particularly the district of Baixa-Chiado – feels like a tourist trap designed to ensnare even the canniest traveller. It was something not so marked during a wet Lisbon winter but this spring, as the sun set the streets alight with gold, it was harder to ignore. Much of the city centre is marked by gaudy pastelerias piled high with overpriced pasteis de nata, cavernous souvenir shops hawking tile-printed wares and ‘snack bars’ designed to take your money and maybe give you food poisoning for the privilege.
But on our stormy last day we were desperate for somewhere pleasant, away from the hordes, to while away the hours after a rather grim experience at one of aforementioned snack bars (we were hungry, exhausted, we thought with our stomachs and they failed us!) when I suddenly remembered Landeau Chiado, the sister cafe to the Landeau at LX Factory.
We covered a 12-minute walk in a mere 8 (the promise of chocolate, you see) and soon found ourselves happily seated at the communal wooden table with a pot of mint tea and what Landeau call a pure hot chocolate (exactly as it sounds). Bliss. If you find yourself in Lisbon, be sure to while away an hour or two here. We didn’t have room for the rich chocolate cake the cafe is famous for, but it comes with legendary reviews. The table is piled high with magazines and journals – Le Monde, Vogue, Foreign Affairs and the like – and the atmosphere is just right. Lovely in the rain but lovely as a welcome respite from summer heat too, I imagine, with its cool stone walls refashioned from ancient cloisters and dim, ambient lighting.
Should you go, find it here:
Landeau Chocolate, Rua das Flores 70, Chiado, Lisbon