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Published: June 24th 2018
We had headed down to the town to catch a bus up the castle for the Alfama walk not knowing how much walking we could cope with. We used the metro to get there. It was a bit of a puzzle to find the right Square for the castle bus, Placa Figueira, because the downtown of Lisbon is a maze of squares and plazas. In any city with a metro, coming out of the right exit is always a challenge and each time we traveled on the same route this day we came out of different exits. Using maps.me we could could have seen exactly where we were but the hotel phone had an app specifically for Lisbon and it's transport, i think it was called 'citymapping'.
Quite a few people were in the queue and I pointed out as we walked around the market next to it that we needed to get in the line. My partner is very last minute and thinks queuing is for fools, as did 3 girls who came and stood in front of us. They pretended surprise when we asked them to go to the back, "Oh, is this a queue?" asked one. It paid
John orders our drinks
off because some people behind us, including those girls could not get the bus as it was too full. The next was in half hour so too late to join the walking tour.
By the castle entrance we met John our guide and he was very informative throughout the tour. He told us about the history as well as the current Festival that is happening. The festival of St Anthony is 13th June but people continue celebrating throughout the month. Streets, cafes and squares are decorated with thick Christmas-like garlands and large glittery balls. They have grilled sardines on bread to sop up the juices and we could smell the barbecues as we reached the lower levels.
Initially he stopped quite frequently to tell us about the castle itself, then we walked more quickly down through the Alfama District.
The castle was initially built by the Moors and it was when the first king, Jorge, laid siege and captured it that Portugal became a nation in 12/13th century. On later tours guides said Alfonso, and that he fought his mother for independence because she was going to join with the Castilians. (I need to check the facts).
Within the castle
From Midoura de Nossa da Senhora do Monte
walls, with a red door, is a highly prestigious hotel. I think he said a room was 3000€ a night.
Due to the festivities there were street stalls on small flat spaces between the narrow streets. Local ladies opened their front windows to sell a drink of Sherry infused with ginger. John invited us to have a glass with him at just 1€ each. He said some of the ladies served it straight from the litre bottles you can buy in the supermarket but if his lady did that, at least she decanted it into her own jar first, 😁
I took many photos and hope that they trigger notes of what he said. One square is known as the square of floppy dicks (he said flaccid penises), because the old men sitting around that area play dominoes and cards endlessly drinking.
We did not stop at touristy spots like the viewpoints and finished down by the Museum of Fado. He had warned us that it would take longer than 90 minutes and in fact it was over 2 hours. It was free with your choice of a tip at the end. As he'd been so good and we were a small group we gave 30€ for the two of us.
We had lunch at a nearby cafe, Paul had his sardines and I had an omelette with shrimps in it. Whilst there I did the trip advisor write up for John.
Hot and tired, we returned to the hotel on 2 buses and it took over an hour with waiting at stops.
Back to Praca Figueira to have a light supper - a huge variety of food and drink available from meat and cheese slabs to pork rolls and pies, like a farmers' market.
We finished the day with a 'must see'. We walked to the viewpoint Midouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte. Tram 28 goes up to that area but as always there was a long line. The bonus was that we saw another view enroute. In The Evening Sun it was very beautiful and I panned the camera over the convent, castle Castelo de Sao Jorge, Christo Rei and river bridge Pont 25 de April. It was a steep climb but worth it in my opinion. Of course lots of people were up there as it is the highest view over Lisbon. It was windy at the top, not a marvelous set as there was little cloud.
Walked down to bus 712 back to Marques Pombal - a very quick ride at speed, possibly the last bus for the driver and it did not go the full route shown on the citymapper app.
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