Lisboa (Lisbon) the capital of Portugal 21 and 22 Aug 2013


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August 30th 2013
Published: August 30th 2013
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Lisboa (Lisbon) the capital of Portugal 21 and 22 Aug 2013

Lisboa with is almost 2 million people, occupies a hilly site on the estuary of the Tagus River. Over the centuries the city expanded along the coast to Belem, the starting point for the voyages of discovery in the 15th century. Vasco de Gama, Magellan and Christopher Columbus all left from here (will someone correct me here please?).

We heard that the city underwent a great cleanup for the Expo ’98 exhibition, especially in the old docks and industrial areas along the waterfront. The area is very attractive now.

From our campsite we caught the bus which took 20 minutes to get into the city centre. It was certainly a rough ride through some of the narrow cobbled stoned streets. The campsite was to the west of Belem and the city so we caught our 1st glimpse of Belem with its extensive, sandstone-coloured pavements and memorial squares, water features, museums and monuments. The riverside had a promenade and plenty of space for street cafes. There is also a very popular bakery in Belem where there was always a long line of people waiting to get into it. Their specialty is the Belem custard tarts and other such pastries. We peeped in but didn’t want to line up!!

There is also a Monument of Discovery standing predominantly on the waterfront, built in 1960 to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. The Torre de Belem stood out on the waterfront which was a landmark for sailors returning to Lisbon. We also drove past Mosteiro dos Jeronimos which was a monument to the wealth of Portugal’s Age of Discovery. This building was funded by “pepper money” which was taxes on spices, precious stones and gold. We probably should have gone through this building but didn’t….no regrets!

We arrived at the central square in the CBD of Lisbon, after having met a Melbourne couple on the bus. He was wearing a St Kilda hat so we knew they were Australians. We both decided to purchase the Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour which is always an excellent way to see a big city and to become oriented with where you are. We then realized we needed more cash so we went off to an ATM, so said goodbye.

From the time we got off the bus to the time we were to hop on the tour bus, I had lost our camera which we had bought a month into our Europe trip. I was so cross with myself. There was only one thing to do – go buy another one. This took an hour. Fortunately I always down load all the days photos onto our laptop so there were no photos on the lost camera. However, there were some good short movies on it – oh well!!!

For the rest of the next 2 days, we hopped on and off the tour bus. Lisboa has had 2 Expos, one in 1926 and the other was in 1998 so there were some very interesting features of the city.

In 1577 the city also experienced a massive earthquake which devastated the city. This is why the number of very old buildings is limited…unlike Belem which was not affected.

We stayed in the city for dinner, and to see the night lights. I always think a city looks beautiful at night and Lisboa was no exception. We had a beautiful meal, sitting at one of the many restaurants in the walking malls. The weather was very balmy…beautiful.

We saw the sun set over the River Tagus with the longest bridge in the background. We loved wondering around the street, poking around. We found the most amazing toilet which was advertising ‘sexy paper’. There were multi coloured rolls of toilet paper to be used. We couldn’t find the doors to the toilet as they were concealed. The hand washing sink was bright yellow and circular. Cute!

The pastry shops were everywhere so a couple of times we stopped for a nibble and coffee!

We bused it back to the camp site at about 10.00pm.

The next day we went back into the city to that which we hadn’t covered the day before. Once satisfied we had seen what we wanted, we packed up and headed south to see the southern coast of Spain.

We drove 116kms due south on the motorway so it was easy driving. We were looking forward to seeing the southern coast of Portugal as we have seen many photos of the scenery so we were looking forward to the next day.


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