We spent 2 days discovering the city of Lisbon itself and found it truly beautiful and interesting. On the first day we went with my cousin and her husband who know Portugal well. They were on holiday on the Algarve Coast in Southern Portugal and drove up to spend time with us.
As had been the previous few days, Lisbon was once again very hot – 33 to 37deg Celsius.The first task was getting Metro tickets to take the train into town and not even they knew just how the ticket system worked. Also, there was on security guard on duty to assist us this time. I stayed to one side and took photos while the 3 of them worked out how to do it and they were finally successful. You might ask why we had so much difficulty in doing this seemingly simple task. Well, there are no ticket distributors or even Ticket Offices where one can speak to a person. Everything is computerised and so one has to learn new skills.
Now, how does this ticket thing work?
We caught the Underground to downtown Lisbon. At the square where the Underground came in we had tea/coffee and restaurant which dated back to 1905 with the original entrance dating back to 1861. With our drinks we had pasteis de nata or custard tarts for which Lisbon is famous, particularly a small café in the area of Belem which we visited later. Alongside our table at the café was a statue of Portugal’s most famous poet, Fernando Pessoa, who lived in Durban for a number of years attending a Roman Catholic Primary School and then Durban High School. There is a bust of him in the DHS grounds.
From there we walked down a steep cobbled hill towards the sea. Like Rome, Lisbon is built on 7 hills. Halfway down the hill were 2 buildings of interest. First was a small very old church which was very ornate in its inner fittings. Second was a wonderful bookshop established in 1752 and much of the building and its fittings date from then. At the rear was a café dedicated to Pessoa with a beautiful mural of him.
Memorial to Pessoa in the bookshop
Vicky outside the bookshop
Much further down the hill we could look over to a lower street from which rose a lift (elevator) designed on the Eifel Tower. Its purpose is to help people get from the lower streets to the top of the hill. Its specific purpose when first built, was to help those wanting to get to the church at the top but it is now open to all. At the bottom of the hill was a large square which was the terminus for buses, taxis, tuk-tuks and a number of other forms of transport. They were parked all around the sides of the square which had a statue of D. Joao I of Portugal, a leader in the 15th century.
The street lift
On leaving the square we came on to another street where there was a band from the local university who had just finished presenting one of their ensembles for the public which they apparently do on a fairly regular basis expecting nothing in return. We crossed over the Tram lines and went through the Lisbon Arc de Triomfe, just as beautiful as that in Paris, into Commercio Square on the banks of the Tagus River. This used to be a very busy port, in particular bringing salted Cod from Norway. A very popular snack in Lisbon is Pasteis Bacalhau a pastry filled with salted, dried Cod. We tried it but were not too impressed with the taste.A tram in the citry street.
The University Band
Comercio Square is very large with shops and offices on 2 sides, the River Tagus on a 3rd and the rest open to the public to relax and stroll around. The beach has been created fairly recently on the bank of the river and on the day we were there it was very busy. Like most squares in the city there is a statue, this time of King Manuel I who built his palace on the banks of the Tagus in the early 16th Century.
Comercio Square with the statue of King Manuel and the Arc de Triomfe at the back
We had afternoon tea at another café, Pasteis de Belem, the one which originated the recipe for the custard tarts. It was packed to capacity with a queue waiting to get a table or to just purchase some of their tarts stretching 100m down the street. These tarts are truly delicious!
Delicious Belem Custard Tarts
We finished the day with supper at the Time Out Market, a massive food court which seems to never sleep. We arrived there at about 10pm
A small section of the Time Out Market at 10pm
There are so many wonderful places in this city such as, the Belem Tower, 25 April Bridge, Selazar’s Palace, Jerónimo‘s Monastry and the Explorers Monument which I shall tell you about in my next blog.