If you’ve read my post on Sintra, then you know I was in Lisbon at the beginning of October 2015. I’ve always wanted to go to Lisbon and so many people I met kept telling me what a great city it was that when I had the opportunity to plan for a girlfriend trip away, this destination immediately came to mind.
Day 1 :
We left early in the morning for Orly airport in Paris, but much to our dismay, there was air traffic control strike going on ! Yes strikes are some thing of a national hobby here 😉 We had chosen to leave early to make the most of our day in Lisbon while two other friends were to meet us later that evening. We were pretty bumbed especially since the info wasn’t all that forthcoming. But finally we only got delayed 2 hours which isn’t too bad and ended up landing around noon.
When we got there my friends insisted we take the subway to our Airbnb rental in Barrio Alto. I wanted to take a taxi as I was travelling with a larger suitcase and my laptop. Even though it was only for a week, I need my make up products you know? I caved and took the subway : what a mistake! The closest subway stop was Roxio and it happened to be at the bottom of a hill. Yes Lisbon is the city of 7 hills and let me tell you it came by its name honestly no exaggeration ! The climb was steep to our rental which of course HAD to be located towards the top in the Barrio Alto neighborhood ! Well with Alto in the name, we could have guessed it :).
Try pulling your suitcase over cobbled stone. Wheels and cobble stone don’t get along, let me tell you. On the plus side it’s gorgeous but I didn’t really appreciate it at first glance. The weather was wonderful too and very hot but not ideal when carrying a lot of weight! I was cursing and sweaty by the time my friends took pity on me and helped my poor bedraggled self + luggage get to the top of the hill.
Our Airbnb guy was patiently waiting for us on the first floor of the apartment (we were an hour late). We had three bedrooms and two bathrooms (a requirement of mine when we decided to go the Airbnb route). The apartment was nice and spacious and located in a pretty quiet neighborhood but still very close to the fun going out places.
Once we got the keys and deposited our luggage, we headed out to explore the city. Our neighborhood “Bairro Alto” literally Upper District is a central district of the city of Lisbon, the Portuguese capital. It resulted from urban expansion in the 16th century, forming outside the walls of the historical city. It is a fundamental quarter of Lisbon, organized into a hierarchical scheme of roads and lanes: the roads, the structural axis, run perpendicular to the river; and the lanes, or secondary axis, cut parallel to the river. The street layout is quite medieval. The inclined streets and 3-story buildings are a typical feature.
There was an exhibit going on in the very streets called ‘Coming Out’ whereby different city museums would lend copies of paintings and hang them out on the walls for the passersby to enjoy. I thought the idea really innovative and fun.
Walking down from our hilly neighborhood we stopped at the square Encarnacao with a beautiful fountain and an even prettier view of the city down bellow. We saw the famous Lisboa tram way and decided to ride it before we left, but kept that for another day.
Getting down to the city center we passed beautiful azulejos that we stopped to admire. I really fell in love with this tile pattern that adorns many houses. I was surprised by how pretty the city was.
Now that I wasn’t lugging suitcases around I could actually see and enjoy the patterns in the cobbled stones both on the roads and on the side walk. All these patterns and decorations lent a rich quality to the architecture that surprised me, I guess I was expecting to see a poorer city. Instead it dazzled under the sunlight.
We stopped for a very late lunch at a cafe in Martires.
When we encountered a Benefit store (there are no Benefit stores in France, but you can find their products in Sephora), I dragged my friends to have a look :).
Praça do Comerico
We kept exploring the city downward towards the sea and ended up at the Praça do Comerico, a huge square opening up to the Tagus River.
The square of commerce is still commonly known as Terreiro do Paço or Palace Yard), because it was the location of the Paços da Ribeira (Royal Ribeira Palace) until it was destroyed by the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake. After the earthquake, the square was completely remodelled as part of the rebuilding of the Pombaline Downtown, ordered by Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal, who was the Minister of the Kingdom of Portugal from 1750 to 1777, during the reign of Dom José I, King of Portugal.
We then walked along the shoreline to the ferry station as we wanted to visit the Christ Rei similar to the Christ the Redeemer of Corcovado Statue in Rio de Janero in Almada the city across from Lisbon.
The ferry ride is dirt cheap at 1,20 euros. The ride in itself is around 15 minutes. It’s quite enjoyable as it provides unique views of Lisbon and the bridge of 25 Abril.
Almada is a city located on the southern margin of the Tagus River. Human presence in the area of Almada dates to the end of the Neolithic period about 5000 years ago. The gradual development of settlement here made its greatest advance with the coming of Islamic civilization, when Muslims constructed a fort at Almada to defend and monitor the entrance to the Tagus River.
Cristo Rei – Christ the King
The Christ the King statue is a Catholic monument and shrine dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ overlooking the city of Lisbon. In order to get to the top of the hill, we took the bus right off the ferry station.
The project was inaugurated on 17 May 1959, at a time when Portugal was being ruled by the authoritarian President of the Council of Ministers António de Oliveira Salazar (permission to build the monument was ultimately given by Salazar). The giant statue in cement was erected to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II.
There is an elevator to get to the top, but the last couple of stories are done by a very narrow staircase. You aren’t actually in the Christ but on an observation deck surrounding him. The view is breathtaking.
The interior of the monument is divided into various spaces, that include: a library, bar, two halls and main chapel.
The sanctuary gardens holds several works of art and statues. The Lisbon bridge 25 de Abril Bridge – a replica of the San Francisco Golden Gate – can be admired from this garden.
The 25 de Abril Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril)
The 25 de Abril Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril) is a suspension bridge connecting the city of Lisbon, to the municipality of Almada on the left (south) bank of the river. It was inaugurated on August 6, 1966, and a train platform was added in 1999. With a total length of 2,277 m, it is the 27th largest suspension bridge in the world. The name “25 de Abril” commemorates the Carnation Revolution.
The sun was starting to set when we took the ferry back to Lisbon and the colors around the Lisbon bridge were stupendous !
Lisbon by night
We met up with our remaining two friends at 11 pm on the same square. Here are a few pics of Lisbon by night.
Then we all went to sleep, yes traveling is tiring so many emotions and so much excitement !
to be continued on Day 2…
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