LISBON ON A MIGHTY RIVER EDGED BY SEVEN HILLS
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Monday February 27 2012
Weather: Sunny and warm.
Still in Madrid, we had a late start today because we were blogging, emailing and keeping up with business. We packed and left our room in the apartment but hung about in the office and on the terrace.
Our train to Lisbon was not departing until 10.30 pm so we went for dinner with a Lonely Planet recommendation but it was awful- sometimes these recommendations seem to affect the business badly.
We plodded down the 102 steps for the last time and found our way to the Metro station and made it to the long distance station very early but that's ok because when you are unsure of your way it's best to allow extra time for errors.
The time passed quickly and we soon found ourselves in the 4 berth tourist cabin along with Maria and a lot of luggage. The fare online for this sleeping berth was 32 Euros, about $40 each was cheap we thought. Maria, on her way to Lisbon for a 3 month assignment chatted to Sheila for a long time in Spanish and Kath climbed into her upper berth and fell asleep.
We both thought it was a good deal and both slept well; Maria however failed to sleep at all.
It was a shock to disembark in Lisbon to freezing cold temperatures and heavy fog- well it was only 7.30am but still......
It was a short drive in a taxi to our destination in Rue Augusta which is a pedestrian only street in the centre of Lisbon. We were very impressed with our location, and easily found the address of our airbnb apartment, but we rang the doorbell to no avail for 10 minutes and then found a place to have coffee until 9am, the designated meeting time.
Back to the entrance but still no host and it was freezing. Sadly our new sim card for our mobile phone does not work in Portugal so we felt a bit lost. Finally Kath approached a young man in a souvenir shop opposite and offered to pay him to use his phone-he was kind enough to oblige and so we made contact with our host who seemed surprised to hear we were already arrived- Portuguese time keeping we were later told.
Well we were very relieved when she appeared and steered us up 4 flights of steep stairs- oh dear here we go again. The building is very old; the apartment is spacious and nicely decorated and is also the host's studio/workshop as she is a designer. We are sharing with a young neurosurgeon from Holland, writing her PhD and a professional photographer from Germany here on assignment. All are very friendly and compatible and know Portugal well.
Our room is large by comparison to our Madrid one and has a nice heater to keep us warm. Once again, despite its central location the apartment is very quiet.
We did some supermarket shopping, washing and set out to explore our environs.
Lisbon is the capitol of Portugal with a population of around 600,000. The city is surrounded by 7 hills and has a deep natural harbour on the wide River Tejo- we visited the port where some famous explorers of the sea departed, when Portugal was a powerful nation in the 15th century, sending ships around the world to trade in spices, silks etc. Kath remembered learning about Vasco da Gama at school and that he discovered a sea route to India and also Magellan who sailed around the globe .
The city is hilly and you are often climbing stairs to reach another street. The streets are paved with hewn stone blocks which are still in good condition. It is an attractive place but seems a bit run down in areas.
The day warmed and we enjoyed walking the city in sunshine but it was cold enough to retain the jackets and scarves. We opted for wine, crackers, cheese and delicious strawberries for dinner when we admitted to being too tired to venture out to eat at the end of day one.