April 24, 2018
Today I was still a bit apprehensive about how big this city is and how ill-prepared I was to try to explore it, but once I set out, my mood and attitude changed.
I got lost several times on my way to meet the tour group I had arranged to join, but not only did I see some great sights along the way, I gave myself plenty of time and still arrived with an hour to spare!!
In terms of navigating, obviously the map has all of the directions in a language I don’t understand – Portuguese here in Lisbon. Also, we are spoiled in the United States as far as street signs go. Here you’re lucky if you see them on the side of a building, and not always on a corner. Plus the streets zig, zag and change.
◦ Anyway, it was a lovely, warm and blue sky morning and once I figured out where I needed to be with time to spare, I wandered around in the vicinity. And lo and behold, I found the train station! And as my friend Debi had suggested, I found that I could just buy a train ticket to a highly touted area of tourism – Sintra -and so I did! Hot damn, my day started out so well! I also stumbled upon a Starbucks, and two (obviously prestigious) old hotels that were lovely to go into and peruse. Hmmm I also found an awesome health food store which had a bathroom that I was able to use just in the nick of time before my tour walk! Plus, I made a mental note to go back later to make some purchases.
The group I joined – four others and the tour guide – was fabulous. Everyone was very cool, we got along great, and our tour guide was supremely passionate about all things Lisbon!! Her name is Lara and she is from Scotland, but fell in love with Lisbon and has been living here the last couple of years – she speaks like six languages! It was a “free” walking tour, but obviously-they emphasize that their wages are low and so tips are appreciated. It was so worth every minute and every tip dollar that I spent!
The tour was through the Mouraria neighborhood, which is an old Moorish district. And it is the birthplace of Fado (which is somewhat similar to flamenco – but no dancing). I will make another post about all of the historic things that our guide told us about, all of which were very fascinating to me. But though I heard, listened, understood and appreciated – there was so much information that I will actually have to reresearch much of it to share forward!
We walked to an extremely high point where we had (I think it was a 270°) view of the city below – so beautiful!!! This was where we parted company, and as it turned out, it was just around the corner from my Airbnb! A good thing as I needed to recharge my phone.
I am so happy that I did the tour, because it really did give me a good sense of where I am in the city, and I was able to come home for a nice lunch of groceries I had already purchased.
Once me and my phone were charged up, I set out again. Several areas were pointed out in our tour this morning that I wanted to revisit and/or find on my own.
I retraced my steps and had the famous Portuguese pastry – Pastel de Nata, which is a custard in a flaky pastry dough that is amazing – especially hot out of the oven with cinnamon and powdered sugar dusted upon it!
Then I went up a very steep hill, (thought I was on the Camino again) which had lavish amounts of graffiti as well as a tram that was constructed particularly to take people up the hill. They call them elevator trams. This one was called the “Gloria” elevator.
I made my way to and viewed a very beautiful church, Igreja de church of São Roque. I continued along and as the afternoon progressed many alleyway restaurants opened up and it was such a great vibe! I got to a church which had within itself, relics of a time past – The Carmo Ruins and Archaeological Museum. Incredible!! Hmmm p
I thereafter sat on a terrace on the backside of the church, and considered going up an elevator that had amazing views of the city, but since I had seen them from the other side of town earlier in the day, I chose not to spend the money.
Then I meandered my way down to the waterfront!!! Another beach What an incredible place this is!! I hung out for a while, and then made my way back to the health food store where I picked up some spelt bread, and avocado, some nut crackers and a potato. I still haven’t hopped on the famous number 28 tram, which runs right by my place, but I enjoyed all the walking today and all the hills. I managed to get in 11 miles!
Tomorrow I go to Sintra!!!