A wonderful day in Lisbon, one of our favourite cities. The weather was perfect. Cloudless blue sky and a very warm 27C. We set off right after breakfast and walked through the Alfama district – the Old Town – which was about 5 minutes from where the ship was moored up. It’s very atmospheric. Winding, cobbled medieval streets lined with colourful old houses, Fado bars and little tucked away restaurants and food shops. We followed all the way through, gradually descending down hill to the large main commercial square which fronts the modern shopping area of Lisbon onto the River Tagus.
Such a colourful square lined with yellow colonnades, and with a statue of King Joseph 1 at its centre. From the square the Augustan Arch leads to one of the main shopping streets. The arch was built in thanks and commemoration after the devastating earthquake of 1755 which destroyed much of the city. We had our first coffee break in the street behind the arch and Bob had a Pasta del Nata, a most wonderful Portugese custard tart. He loves them and there are many bakeries in the area selling them. So much nicer than the English variety, they have a crisp flaky pastry and a deep custard filling. When you bite into them, there is a crunch of pastry, followed by a filthy squelch of custard in the mouth and then – generally – moans of ecstasy! He had two actually….
We walked around the streets, admiring various goods and the general architecture and then decided to tour on the hop on-hop off bus. It was quite a good deal – 20euro each for 2 long routes around the city. It took us all around – out to the Belem Tower and past the Monument to the Portugese Explorers. We had been to both several times before so this time we just gazed from afar. We saw the Statue to Christ the King, very similar to the one in Rio, Jeronimos Monastery and the city bullring. One interesting fact we learned was that for many years Portugese bullfighting has diverged from Spanish as it is illegal for the bull to be killed.
When we eventually got back to the city centre, we wandered into the Alfama area again to get some lunch. Found a great little hole in the wall restaurant and I had grilled squid and Bob had grilled fish with salad. We washed it down with a jug of Vino Verde, a lovely light Portugese white wine which has a very slight effervescence.
After that we wandered some more – saw the Cathedral and more squares. Then we got on the hop on hop off bus again for the second line. This route was less successful – out along the river and then around lots of modern bits, the railway station (very impressive and beautiful by the way, and totally modern. An example of what modern architecture can be). But then quite a lot of suburbs…
We got back to the ship after 6pm and then it took us an hour to get through security and Portugese exit checks. These were odd as we were not checked in at all. I mean, we just walked off the ship and into Lisbon, no checks. Yet, we had to have our passports checked when we left. Figure that one out!!!!!!
So tired by then that all we could think to do was speak to the girls, grab a bite in the buffet and collapse. We were going to watch a folklorific show but passed on that. Now for 6 days at sea and then Bermuda. If the weather is like today, we will have a splendid transatlantic crossing.
Highly recommend Lisbon. It’s a lovely place, great shopping, lots and lots of culture, museums, great food and wine. And a lovely setting on the River Tagus. We always enjoy being here and look forward to coming back again.