Lisboa - Portugal

Trip Start Apr 12, 2008
Trip End Jul 20, 2008

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Flag of Portugal  , Estremadura,
Monday, May 19, 2008

We arrived at Lisbon airport to be met by our Hospitality Club host for three nights, Paulo. What a change in the way we've been getting around so far, an airport pickup in our hosts mercedes and a transfer to yet another penthouse apartment (this time with a lift, our own bedroom and bathroom) and then a drop-off at the tram while Paulo went back to work. Old wooden creaky trams and elevators move people around this hilly city, jam packed and sooo close to the walls of buildings as they wind through this historic city. Spent the afternoon wandering the streets before we settled into a balcony terrace bar - outdoors on lounges overlooking the town. Paulo picked us up and took us to experience the culinary delights of Lisbon. Delicious seafood and smoked cod that he insisted we must eat.

Bought a Lisboa Card (great value) which gives unlimited travel and entry to most museums for 24 hours so Wednesday we spent the morning wandering, tramming and Metro-ing around the city before heading out to the coastal village of Cascais by train. Reminded me a lot of Cronulla. Another beer on a terrace overlooking the beaches before heading back to Lisbon.

Mindful of getting the most out of the travel card, we headed on the train again, this time to Sintra a historic village with beautiful gardens and palaces. That evening Paulo took us to a Fado bar & restaurant for a truly unique food and musical experience. Situated deep in the steep laneways of Alfama, an old part of the city was this tiny restaurant. Paulo knew the staff so we got special treatment and uniquely Portugese food which included cod again. But then the Fado started. Portugese guitar, and two outher guitars accompanied a procession of  singers who were waiting our tables between sets. Difficult to describe this Lisbon only folk music where they sing passionate songs of explorers and fishermen, their loves and the ones they left behind. Well thats what Paulo told us. But it meant a lot to the locals and the performers in this intimate atmosphere.

A great way to finish our time in Portugal, a difficult city at times - language and finding your way around but a great experience again. A city where the police cruise the streets in tiny Smart cars and patrol the squares on spaceage Segways, but where drugs are on offer right under their noses.

Thanks Paulo, an excellent host who is passionate about everything Portugese.
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