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September 17th 2008
Published: September 17th 2008
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I wonder who hung out the washing? It is all very neat.
At the end of my stay in Portugal we stayed overnight in Lisbon and spent two days wandering the streets. I was really impressed with Lisbon -- I thought the architecture was amazing and the buildings were all very colorful in pastels and earth tones so I took tons of photos. I found Lisbon to be reasonably priced for a capital city. A lot of the architectecture is very grand -- with many structures being surprisingly big and some of the buildings and monuments have a lot of detail -- sometimes too much but mostly it seems to work. They have these little trams that get very crowded and give the impression that there are lots of tourists which I don't think there is -- I mean, there are tourists but there isn't a crush. Some of the streets are very narrow. At times the tram was literally window to window with someones loungeroom. Once the tram couldn't pass a car parked on the pavement until it moved because it was extending over the edge about 5 cm. If one tram is coming down and one going up, a pole goes up in the path of one of the trams and it waits until the other tram passes. For that reason there are very little private cars on the road and they also have a very good underground system.

It's very lively on the streets of the old city. In one neighborhood we were in there were a lot of Africans dressed in their long dresses and turbans lounging around in the street, lots of shops, and restaurants. There was a little standing-only bar that seemed to be very popular and only served Portuguese cherry liqueur. We had dinner in that area. I had calamari but Russell, as he likes to do, ordered something "authentic" and claimed that it was tasty and ate it all. He ordered seafood and bread soup. It was more like porridge than soup, and to finish was mixed with a raw egg. It had a sort of mucusy regurgitated food look about it. Anyway, I would not of eaten it.

You enter old Lisbon next to the sea through a very big square with obligatory man and horse statue and gate with majestic statues on top into a walking street with lot of shops and cafes and street stalls selling all the things I saw in Vietnam and at about the same cost -- it must all come from China. Everything comes from China these days -- everything seems to be much cheaper too -- wonder if that's good or bad. Hand painted pictures of streets featuring the yellow tram seemed to be very popular too. There were some very nice lace and ceramic shops in Lisbon but also very expensive. I was happy with my little jar from Silves and I bought a little jug with the portuguese rooster on it -- some cheap souvenir, not the good stuff, but nice.

Lisbon is built on hills so some of the streets are very steep and sometimes they have what they call escalators in particularly steep parts. The escalators are like a tram in appearance and they are run on cables -- the tram makes the journey uphill and then the same tram goes down. At the top of the one we took there is a park and lookout area from where you can see the entire old city, from the top with the castle and down to the sea. It was late afternoon, and the sun's rays hit the buildings and gave them all a golden radiance.

We did a lot of walking but in the short time we spent there we were mainly in the Old City and the Bario area. There is a lot more to see and do in Lisbon so I will have a reason to come back ...

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