Published: July 24th 2011June 30th 2011
1 Christiano welcoming me to Portugal
This was by the luggage carousel ... waiting for luggage has never been this nice!
I had not done a lot of reading on Portugal before actually arriving there. Just enough to pick out where I wanted to visit. That was back in the winter as I was planning the trip and making hotel reservations so not alot of what I had read had actually stuck in my head. So I took the time on the short plane ride from Sevilla to Lisbon to quickly glance at my guidebook and scope out what I was going to do over the next five days.
I started feeling a slight sense of dread when I read that Lisbon was built on seven hills ... more uphill walking!! My poor feet were going to stage a revolt at some point I thought. And this whole idea of always walking up and down hills was definitely confirmed when I went to the tourist office at the airport to ask for the best way to reach my hotel and the reply included taking an airport shuttle and then hopping on a funicular ... did you say funicular ... oh that will be fun with luggage!! Thank god that the Portuguese are so incredibly nice and that a very nice man
2 Elevator Gloria
The funicular that got me to my hotel
helped me onto the funicular with my suitcase which at that point weighed in at 21.5 kg!!! So up and down hills it would be for the next five days ... by that time I wasn't even getting remotely winded. Although it was still quite hot in Lisbon, it was nothing like the weeks that preceded in Spain and so it definitely made walking around much more enjoyable and definitely not as draining.
The neighbourhood I was staying at in Lisbon was called the Bairro Alto and I had found this great little serviced studio apartment. It was like living in an Ikea showroom but with maid service!! The highlight of this hotel/apartment ... a washing machine. Because I am such a loser ... I spent a better part of my first day in Lisbon drinking vihno verde, eating traditional custard tarts, talking to my mom on Skype all the while doing three loads of laundry. After almost ten weeks of rinsing out clothes in hotel sinks ... believe me when I say that a washing machine is like winning the lottery.
The Bairro Alto (seriously how did I not realize that I would be up on a
3 Urban museum
Along the trail of Elevator Gloria
hill ... alto ... the name kind of says it doesn't it??) is an odd little neighbourhood. Very quiet by day and insanely busy and chaotic by night. There are tons of little restaurants and bars which seem to spring to life as soon as the sun sets. This made for a few sleepless nights especially the last night I was there where the party out on the street went on to about 3:30 am.
I think that at this point in the trip, it was less about ticking off tourist attractions and just about enjoying being in Portugal. I did manage to sneak in the obligatory sights like the Torre de Belem, the Monastery and the Castillo San Jorge which were all incredible. I also had the chance to visit a few museums including a modern art museum and the Museum of Azulejos ... or tiles. Yes there is a museum of ceramic tiles. It is an important part of their architecture and the museum includes this incredible panorama of Lisbon entirely made of ceramic tiles. It takes up an entire room and it is definitely quite something to see. I also took the time to visit the
Museum of Fado and the former home (and now museum) of Amalia Rodrigues. Fado is the traditional Portuguese music ... it is bluesy and haunting and depressing and chilling and ... I could go on and on. And Amalia Rodrigues ... she was THE fado singer. She is the Queen of Fado. She is a legend in Portugal so if you want to know about Portugal and its people ... those are two stops that need to be on the list.
And of course a visit to Lisbon is not complete without a ride on that famed tram 28. It is filled with tourists of course but I was very lucky because it actually passed very close to my hotel which was well before the general area where tourists tended to hop on and off. The route of the tram is interesting because it takes you past the cathedral and castillo and past some beautiful look out points. It is also quite the experience because it creaks and cracks as it winds its way up the narrow streets and if you are standing you definitely get jostled around ... I had a bruise to prove that!!
were also so incredibly nice. I had one woman approach me while waiting for the tram who seemed to be concerned about the fact that the sun was quite strong and she wanted to make sure that I had either a hat or sunscreen ... it was like having my own Portuguese grandma! And seriously ... god love a city or country that seems to have a bakery every few feet. You are never at a loss for finding a quick snack and let's face it those little custard tarts are outright addictive!
I had been wanting to go to Lisbon for many years now and it did not disappoint. I just loved my time in Lisbon and I would go back in a heartbeat!!
On a side note ... again a few problems with comments not matching the actual photo!!
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