Before going to Lisbon, I did some internet “research” on the city and got to know it as a virtual tourist. But looking at pictures of a city and reading about it are never the same as being there. The people, the buildings, the light, the shadows are always something else entirely.
Photos: colourful buildings, unloved building, early morning shadows.
As we were tourists, and very much on holiday, we visted all the must-see places.
We walked from our hotel down to Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square). We took the no. 15 tram to Belém where we went to the famous Antiga Confeitaria de Belem (a cafè) and indulged in their legendary custard tarts. (More scrumptious than I could possibly have imagined.) We visited the monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries and Belém Tower.
The Monument to the Discoveries is dramatic from most angles and has a sense of outwardness about it. It manages not to be merely commemorative of the great Portuguese explorers but captures their spirit of wanting to go out and discover the world. The sea air keeps the cobwebs at bay…I found this to be true of Lisbon in general (at least from a tourist’s point of view).
We duly visited the Oceanaria and then spent an afternoon exploring the area around the castle and the Alfama.
On our last day, amongst other things, we watched the sunset from Praça do Comércio while listening to a young hip band playing Brazilian-flavoured music. Lisbon is every bit as charming as everyone claims and it’s high on my list of favourite European cities.