Lisbon airport was… jarring after Zürich. Europe is not one big, homogenous place. Thinking we’d save some time with a cheap taxi (instead the metro system) we wandered around aimlessly for a bit until we figured out where to go to do that. We found the line, but the back of it was some distance away. After about 20 minutes we’re in a taxi hurtling towards our accommodation.
It’s a lovely spot, up on the hill over Praça Rossio with views over Alfama, up to the Castelo de S. Jorge and out to the Tagus river.
The walk FROM our accommodation, down into (and back up) Praça Rossio is fine except for the very last bit - the local urinal for the people hanging around the edge of the square aimlessly all day.
But the views are good.
Sunshine in Baixa
Powering through Praça Rossi, dodging drug dealers and meandering tourists, we made it to the pedestrianised Rua Augusta which connects Praça Rossi to Arco da Rua Augusta.
From there we entered the massive Praça do Comércio, half filled with a spectator area in front of a huge screen for the Football World Cup. Portugal was already eliminated, but the crowds for game day were still massive. We learnt later that it was only in the last few years that this plaza had reverted from being a car park…
The plaza extends all the way to the Targus, with Cais das Colunas extending out into the breaking waves.
Back up to Arco da Rua Augusta …
… and to the west into Chiado …
Praça do Município
Rua do Corpo Santo
The pedestrianised and pink (trust me) Rua Nova do Carvalho which extends below the arching and steeply climing Rua do Alecrim.
Up Rua des flores to Praça Luís de Camões then on to Chafariz do Carmo
Sat and had a beer overlooking the square, listening to the very talented buskers
Then round the back of Carmo Convent to Elevador de Santa Justa
From there we headed back west to Praça Luís de Camões …
… and on to …
Rua de San Paulo
Calçada do Combro
Park Rooftop Bar for a drink
Then back to the backstreets around Calçada da Bica Pequena waiting for a restaurant to open (hint: it won’t)
So back down the hill we go
Back in Baixa
East along Calçada da Bica Pequena
Through Rua Nova do Carvalho again
East on Rua da Conceição
North up Rua Áurea
Passing under Santa Justa lift
Berated by druggies/drunkards while taking this photos
And up through Praça Rossio to Rossio Train Station to find a grocery store for some basic supplies. We did eventually, but it was madness.
In desperation, we ended up in McDonalds. Home for some dinner.
Castelo São Jorge
We start by heading north from our apartment on Rua Arco da Graça to the stairs leading down to Martim Moniz. The escalators are either out of service or still being built, but we puff our way up 800,000 stairs to the meandering streets that loop around the the castle entrance.
Inside is lovely, an old fortress full of trees and scenic lookouts.
From there we enter the red doors through Palacio Belmonte to an abandoned site of some sort - it didn’t appear particularly old, but was throughly dishevelled.
Lots of (necessary) meandering followed, so I’ll just name streets for my own future reference:
Portas Do Sol lookout
Largo do Sequeira
To the markets in Campo de Santa Clara and Arco Grande de Cima alongside Igreja de São Vicente de Fora
Rua dos Remédios
Escadinhas Santo Estêvão
Honestly, I’d be guessing
Up the top of Escadinhas São Miguel (Beco da Corvinha)
Rua de Santiago, maybe
Some great stairs from Largo São Cristóvão descending to Travessa da Madalena
then on to Baixa and home for a relax!
After a nice break we headed down to Baixa and caught the metro from Praça Rossio to Cais do Sodré where we swapped to a tram Calvário at the base of Ponte 25 de Abril - a monstrous flyover and bridge that seems very out of place.
LX Factory is a mega hipster/hippy commune/busines park with some fun stores and grotty old buildings that make for good photos. We were home.
Ponte 25 de Abril
We needed to cross the main road and train tracks to get to the nearby marina (Doca de Recreio de Santo Amaro). We probably walked the wrong way round but honestly, looking at the map now I’m not sure it would have been that much better (though we did find a shady underpass later on).
First up was the where the trams go to sleep. Aww.
Nothing else happened for a while, but eventually we made it to the pedestrian overpass.
The bridge is …. LOUD
Like, crazy loud. Why is it so loud?
I ended up reading about it at the pub where we had a drink later on, and it’s because they cheaped out and the lanes are metal meshes, not paved road - you can see them below. I don’t know how it’s safe, but what it is is LOUD.
There is a pretty constant stream of planes coming in - this one was following the same route we flew in on. It’s a cool city to fly into as you come in really low over the densely packed hills before landing just outside the city.
So we were at the pub to kill some time before our BOAT RIDE.
We chartered a private sunset boat tour of the Tagus/lisbon coast. It was a small (lovely) boat with some wine and snacks. The water was a bit choppy at first, but eventually Emily relaxed and we had some wine.
We stuck our nose in at Cais das Colunas and got as far up the river as the Cruise ship terminal at Santa Apolónia before heading back out towards the Atlantic.
We went as far as Torre de Belém (Belém being the place where the delicious and famous custard tarts are originally from).
We had a long chat with the boat driver (is it “Captain” for such a small boat?) about tourism and its effects on cities (increasingly relevant to us with regards to Lisbon). Alfama was beautiful, but it is Disneyland, with the only last few residents still there, the rest bought out for AirBnBs, hostels etc. The only people we saw while walking around, beyond the odd ‘legitimate’ old lady hanging our her washing, were tourists. Sympathising while being the problem - I have no good answers.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
An old powerstation in the foregraound (I think) and MAAT (the swooshy thing) in the background.
Back in the marina, we say our thanks and head to the nearby Doca de Santo for a light dinner before heading home.
We find an underpass (did not get murdered) and head back by bus to Baixa and our apartment.
I jumped at the chance to see some aquaducts. There are bigger, more impressive ones in Lisbon, but being practical we stuck to a small set in a park near somewhere else we were interested in (the big ones are also over a motorway junction which would have just made me sad). We got the metro out to Marquês de Pombal, a gigantic roundabout without much going for it and grabbed some breakfast at Simpli on Rua Braamcamp.
From there we turned up Calçada Bento da Rocha Cabral
And then on to Jardim das Amoreiras (Jardim Marcelino Mesquita) where the aquaducts and Reservatório da Mãe d’Água das Amoreiras were to be found.
Nestled into one of the arches was Capela de Nossa Senhora De Monserrate
Out front of Reservatório da Mãe d’Água das Amoreiras
Shopping in Rossio
From there we walked south east through the large and unfriendly intersection around the Rato metro station, before carrying on along the large and unfriendly Rua da Escola Politécnica. We arrived a bit early, so hung out in Jardim do Príncipe Real for a glass of something cold from the park kiosk/restaurant (number one most under appreciated aspect of Lisbon are the many kiosks in parks serving drinks) and a bit of relaxing.
When it opened, we headed straight for ‘Embaixada - Concept Store’ across the street. It’s in an amazing old building (and also has some fun shopping related things and a cafe)
Out the back, down some stairs (very M1ontmartre-esque) and down Rua da Alegria
The treelined Avenida da Liberdade, heading south back to Rossio train station.
We were hoping to get a tram up the hill (Calçada do Lavra) to Torel, but it wasn’t for another 10 minutes, so we just walked up. Slowly.
Miradouro do Jardim do Torel wasn’t much to look at. We thought there might be a public beach created around the fountain based on some obviously out of date websites. We found whatever the opposite of that was, and left.
Made our way back down Calçada Santana to the apartment.
After some relxaing we headed out again - wanted a tram up Calçada da Glória but it was full, so again we walked up. In Bairro Alto for dinner and Fado music at Mascote da Atalaia. The food was… ok. The music though, was beautiful and intimate.
Back down the hill towards the water.
Rua Ribeira Nova.
And eastwards back home.
Slow start, taking it easy. Did some wandering around the shops in Baixa.
In the afternoon we got a funicular tram up Calçada da Glória, no walking up today. Made a bee line for Duque Brewpub on the stairs and had a lovely (and very strong) porter - a good time was had.
From there we went to Topo Chiado for a drink, alongside the Santa Justa lift and nestled in behind Carmo Convent.
One more stop for one more glass of wine in Praça do Município. I don’t recall drinking so much.
From our apartment window:
We started the day out at Cais do Sodré, looking for some artwork, it opened later than expected, so another Kiosk drink, this time in Jardim de Roque Gameiro until we had somewhere to go. Still waiting, we wandered along the water. Not a lot to see, to be honest, just the stench of urine. The gallery had some nice things, but nothing for us.
We walked through Baixa into Alfama along the waters edge this time (I bought a lovely backpack of Portuguese/Austrian collaboration because my shoulder bag wasn’t cutting it), eventually turning up the hill to find the gallery of someone’s work we found at the market at Campo de Santa Clara on Tuesday. It was closed.
Much meandering later (Alfama is so beautiful) we ended up on Calçada de Santo André in another gallery where we found something I loved and I guess Emily liked enough to let me buy. You’ll see it on the wall once we get around to framing it.
Some french for lunch, packed up the apartment and into a taxi! We’re off - leaving was as confusing as arriving, but we got there and got out.
Lisbon had a lot of problems but some very special charms - I’d recommend visiting highly.