Tram Rides and Plazas Galore! Lisbon, Portugal

Trip Start Oct 21, 2009
Trip End Jan 12, 2010

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Flag of Portugal  , Lisbon,
Sunday, October 25, 2009

10.25.09               Lisbon, Portugal

Up early again this morning.  (Again?  Why?  We're on holiday, darn it!)  Awoke to a STUNNING day in Lisbon – sunny skies, high 70s, perfect.  I even donned a dress and sandals today!

We had another very nice free hotel breakfast – cereals, more fresh breads and jams, meats and cheeses, yogurt.  After breakfast, we wandered over to Praca (tail on the "c" – in other words, Plaza) Pedro IV and first caught the No. 12 and then the No. 28 trams for a rollicking, rock and roll ride up the hilly streets of Lisbon!  The vintage trams are still used, and offer an amazing tour of Lisbon’s blockbuster sites.  We took the route from Martim Moniz to Campe Ourique, which was 45 minutes of astonishing views and absurdly steep climbs!  The most exciting part was when the tram ascended its rattling climb to Alfama, where all of us passengers leaned perilously out of the tram windows for in-motion shots of the postcard-perfect Miradouro de Santa Lucia halfway up the city.   The final stretch of the tram ride negotiates impossibly narrow streets and hairpin turns (within centimeters of sidewalk pedestrians and parked cars!) to Graca (another tail on the “c”), where we finally got out to explore Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora at the top of Lisbon.  Gorgeous (said in Bab’s voice)!

We did some exploring of Alfama, which is a dense labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways of houses, chalk-white chapels, tiny bodegas, patios shaded by orange trees, and freshly washed underpants hanging off of laundry lines outside nearly every balcony and window!

After a snack, we went onto Castelo de Sao Jorge.  Towering dramatically over Lisbon, the hilltop fortifications of this castle can be seen in most Lisbon cityscapes.  This castle has seen it all – Visigoths in the 5th century, Moors in the 9th century, Christians in the 12th century, royals from the 14th to 16th centuries, and convicts in every century!  We spent some time roaming the castle’s snaking turrets and walkways above the castle walls, and explored the various plazas and courtyards contained within.  Once again, we had spectacular views of Lisbon and beyond.

After the castle, we decided to walk back to our hotel – gelato in hand, and a stop in a lovely cathedral on the way.  The descent by foot was even more precarious than riding the tram, but I’m happy to report that we made it.  We made our way back to the Estacio Rossio/Restauradores area, where our hotel is, and found a good lunch spot.  More huge dishes of grilled meat, French fries, and rice!  I needed a nap afterward, so I hit the hotel while Murray did some Internet surfing down in the lobby (no free Wi-Fi at this place, unfortunately).  We booked tickets to Spain – deciding to forego an overnight train ride to Madrid and some time there before hitting Barcelona – and instead we’re taking a direct flight from Lisbon to Barcelona and back later this week.  Another dinner of – guess what? – grilled meat/fish and rice and French fries, and we are back at the hotel now.  We are taking a day trip tomorrow to Sintra, Portugal, jumping on a train from the station just around the corner.  From what we’ve read, should be another lovely day tomorrow.  (Ditto whirlwind days, amazing sights, and still no real sense that we’ve only just begun here!)
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