Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lisbon: Great Navigators, Royalty, Fine Wine, & Culinary Delights


Lisbon is a vibrant city with numerous plazas, most with imposing sculptures of historical figures that can be found throughout this rather hilly city.

Lisbon tram nr 580, route 25 to Prazeres.  1997
A network of old time cable cars shuttles locals and visitors alike up and down the hills and out to the waterfront area of Belem. From there a view of the Tagus River and the expansive 25th of April Bridge (often compared to the San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge as both were built by the same company) were awe-inspiring. Homage to the explorers of old, like Vasco de Gama, reminded us of the prowess of the Portuguese navigators.

The old castle is a testament to those times. One of the unique experiences in Lisbon is a ride in the 105 ft French designed Neo-Gothic iron Elevador de Santa Justa, which takes passengers from the Baixa area to the Alto Barrio neighborhood. 

This old section of town is charming with its outdoor cafes and artists. 
 

A visit to the near by Castle St George (Castelo de Sao Jorge) transported us back to the 12th century and the recapture of Lisbon from the Moors. Walking along the castle walls, I wondered what stories they would tell of times gone by. The panoramic views of the city from the castle are excellent.


View of Lisbon Castle in an illuminated manuscriptImage via Wikipedia
Another gem in Lisbon is the Gulbenkian Museum named for the Turkish born Armenia oil magnet who sought political refuge in Portugal during WW II and subsequently left his extensive art collection to the city. 

Enjoy the cuisine of Portugal, which is especially proud of the quality of their olive oil and their wines. Here the wine is cheaper than water, the beer is cold, the coffee is strong, the vegetables are delicious, the fish (loved that grilled Dourada) and seafood (great octopus - pulpo) are ‘off the boat’ fresh, and the pastries are ‘to die for’.

Life is good in Lisbon!

For authenticity, seek out the less touristy spots. Eat, drink and be merry with the locals. Don't forget to sit a while at the Cafe Brasiliera in Lisbon where poet Fernando Pessoa spent many a day with the intellectuals of his time. 

Café A Brasileira, do Chiado

Lisbon offers a wide variety of experiences, friendly people, great food and wine, and fado music. Travel with an open mind and be adaptable. And of course it’s always the people you met along the journey that make the real difference.




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