Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Portugal - California 2004

(Re-)discovering Lisbon

I had been in Lisbon once before, on a day trip from a week-long stay in the Algarve sometime in the 1980s, and was looking forward to renewing and deepening my nodding acquaintance with the place. I had breakfast at the hotel, checked in on-line for my two flights the following day, and was ready to hit the streets by about 0915. I walked the short distance to the Alameda metro station, trying not to be put off by the touch of Autumn coolness in the air, and bought a day ticket for the entire transport system. Prior to serving me, the ticket office clerk had leapt from his booth and sprinted after the young woman whom he had served before me - I think she had forgotten some of her change. My faith in the people of Lisbon was restored at a stroke!

I took a Green Line train to the Baixa old town district and simply got out and tried to find my bearings. Without much difficulty, I found myself walking down the pedestrianised Rua Augusta and had soon emerged into the rather impressive Commerce Square, which seemed to serve - among other things - as a grandiose bus terminus. There was a temporary exhibition of world photographs set up, including a ground-level map of the world itself. I took in the atmosphere here and then walked up to the cathedral for a look around. Internally, I didn't think it really fitted the bill for the primary church in a historic European capital. Bearing in mind that I had a day ticket in my pocket, I rode a 28 tram the short distance up to the Miradouro lookout point and from there, I made the steep climb up to St George's Castle on foot. It was uphill all the way, but the views when I got there were well worth it. By the time I had looked around the castle and its surroundings, it was time for something to eat, so I bought a ham and cheese baguette and rested on a bench while I ate it.

I wanted to get back to the 28 tram route, because this was another tip that I had picked up in Porto. I rode one all the way to the Gracas area, then back to Martim Moniz where, rather confusingly, the journey terminates. I simply walked across the square and boarded another one, riding it all the way to the other end of the line at Prazeres. The Portuguese seem to have a talent for getting their trams to climb the most outrageous gradients and for making them squeeze through the tightest of narrow streets. Believe me, some of the clearances on these streets have to be seen to be truly believed!

With all this tram riding, I now felt it was time for some more walking, although the warm afternoon sun meant that it wasn't always comfortable. On a rather lengthy walk, I saw the Basilica da Estrela, the Portuguese parliament building, the Natural History museum, the Marques Pombal square (the only thing I remembered from that 80s day trip!) and the Edward VII Park. After all that, I was glad to make my way back to base for a nice, relaxing bath and a quiet dinner in the hotel. I had to make the necessary arrangements for an early start the following day!

St George's Castle / Lisbon churches


The No 28


Other pictures


Monday 13 Sep

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