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Lisbon Love Affair

Two days is not enough

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Rome has always been my favorite city in the world - the food, the unexpected surprises around every corner, the ability to walk for miles and always discover something new right around the corner, the history, the whatever it is that makes you fall in love. But Rome is not the kind of place you could settle down and live - it's the romance without any of the substance. Lisbon, on the other hand is a city you could go the distance with. Lisbon is clean, the people are kind, the drivers are not angry (in Rome, you must learn to sleep with the constant sound of honking horns and indignant yelling just below your window). Lisbon has fantastic public transportation, great architecture, and fascinating history. It's for families and travelers, couples and seniors. It's a community that welcomes all sorts of new people into it every day.

Adam and I woke up early to get in a run - the hills of both Boavista dos Pinheros and Cartajima had tired me and I was excited to check out a fast flat route through the city just as it was waking up. We ran to the water and saw other people running - this isn't a city that looks askance at people running for a purpose other than necessity. We saw the Golden Gate Bridge twin and then met the sleepers-in of our family back at the apartment.

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Our first destination was the Oceanarium, which is outside the city about ten minutes. It was hot, so we took a taxi, but there is a bus that goes right there. It's a good aquarium, with a giant tank that can be viewed through most of the exhibits. The big draw is the mola-mola, which is a big giant fish, the likes of which we've never seen. There is a gondola which takes you on a scenic trip over the water and a long park, which has a few restaurants to sample. Really nothing special, but pretty and nice for the kids.

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After a much needed siesta, we struck out in search of the famous 28 tram, which would take us to Castelo Sao Jorge. We waited in line like the rest of the silly tourists, but really, asking my kids to walk up through the Alfama to the castle, high above the city, would have prompted a mutiny. It was fun, and though it was standing room only, the destination was well worth it.

The tram drops you off at a little plaza high up on the hill, with a cafe and plenty of places to enjoy the view and take pictures. Husband finally succumbed to the Senegalese vendors selling selfie sticks. I bought a shot of the Portuguese cherry liquer, ginjinha, and we started our ascent to the castle.

It's impossible to describe how beautiful it was up there. The view is as dramatic as the one from Coit Tower in San Fancisco, and the city is laid out below in similar fashion. There is a restaurant and a cafe, as well as a lady with a cart who sells glasses of Portuguese wine. The experience of exploring the castle and sipping wine was sheer contentment. The view from the battlements is breathtaking. It was nicer than Granada and the Alhambra in my opinion. I'm so glad we had that experience. We took an electric golf cart taxi back to the bottom and that was a ton of fun. Every person we met here loved their city and wanted us to love it too.

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We ended the day with a ride up the St Justa elevator, which is another tourist thing, but a also a convenient way to get around. It was designed by a student of Gustav Eiffel, and the design is truly beautiful. The ruined monastery at the top of the elevator is also quite stunning. There is a very pretty view of Rossio Square up there. One more gelato stop and then we reluctantly ended the day.

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We are back in the Florida now, and are already planning our next trip back to Portugal. It was a great trip, but I am left craving more...

Posted by Restless Mama 17:11 Archived in Portugal Tagged castle jorge lisbon sao oceanarium rossio Comments (0)

Last Days in Lisbon

With a side trip to Elvas

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I suppose it all had to come to an end, it couldn't go on forever. And so our journey comes to a close in the place it all began, Lisbon. We packed our bags, ate everything left in the fridge and left our lovely home in Cartajima (which I highly recommend and can be located here: http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p1406660). We had a six hour drive and decided to go back the northern route and possibly stop in Evora. It wasn't to be, but we did stop in the lovely town of Elvas, for a castle walk/stretch break. It was achingly hot after our cool mountain climate, but we were the only ones there and the nicest guy gave us a tour, including the secret passageways through the walls. It was blessedly cool, if a little bit unsuited for both the claustraphobic and the 6'5" one in our family.

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We arrived in Lisbon, driving, which may have been a mistake given the confusion the uninitiated are bound to experience in Baixa about which streets are one way and which are pedestrian only. Eventually, we arrived at our destination, Lisbon Short Stay Apartments on Rua Sapateiros. What a great place - steps from Rossio Square and the St. Justa elevator, which transports you up to the Chiodo district without all the walking. The "hotel," a series of beautifully decorated apartments, was spacious and equipped with all the modern conveniences. And Tandoori, a fantastic Indian restaurant, is right across the street. The kids and I headed out for gelato at Amorino and some chasing pigeons in Rossio. Best gelato ever. Along our wandering route, we checked out the blue lobsters in their holding tanks pending their next stop as someone's dinner. And stopped to watch all the street performers who Noah was fascinated with and had a million questions about. He did not believe the people painted themselves bronze to resemble statues were real - "why would someone paint their whole body that color?" He kept giving them money so they would move.

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After Husband rejoined us, we took him to Amorino for their line basil gelato. Gluttons, the lot of us.

We stayed out as late as we could and returned home, exhausted but sated.

Posted by Restless Mama 14:18 Archived in Portugal Tagged lisbon rossio baixa Comments (0)

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