25.09.2016 - 28.09.2016 30 °C
Our Portuguese public transport skills proved to be up to the challenge, and three hours after leaving Porto we arrived in Lisbon. We even managed to navigate the metro system, changing lines mid-way to get ourselves to the required station. From there, we were very close to our Airbnb apartment. Except that we were at the bottom of the hill and it was at the top. Welcome to Lisbon, I guess.
Our host showed us around and left us with a map, a bottle of wine and some cheese. Superhosting skills right there. We went to the nearest supermarket and obtained the necessary provisions for dinner, and cooked pasta while stopping occasionally to check the view from the terrace again.
Monday morning saw us enjoying coffee and peanut butter toast on the terrace, before traipsing up hills and stairs to get to a walking tour. We were initially put off by the size of the group, and it was hard to hear Riccardo while we were standing in the main square, but we liked what we heard and we liked what we saw, so we persevered.
We were rewarded for our dedication, and spent the next few hours learning about Portuguese and Lisbonese history, avoiding the crowds for the elevator to nowhere, and puzzling over Pessoa and his heteronyms.
An Australian couple joined us for lunch afterwards, but they weren't really my kind of people - they tried to lure us into competitive holiday story-ing and wanted to tell us what to do but I just smiled politely and planned to continue ninking my own way.
We spent the afternoon with a bottle of wine on the terrace, accompanied by the sound of tradies doing something or other to our stairway. Eventually they knocked off and we headed to one of the viewpoints of the city where we defied the wind, admired the setting sun and savoured the ginjinha. We went to another posh-but-cheap restaurant for dinner that had been recommended to us by the Irish/Australian/American crew on our tour to the bone church way back in August - turned out to be an excellent recommendation. Roast vegie couscous with mint sorbet for the win.
Tuesday started with an attempt to learn stuff and things at the Museum of the National Guard - an attempt slightly thwarted by some imperfect English translations and chronologically disordered displays.
Next we went to the market in order to eat stuff and things, and were nearly thwarted simply by the overwhelming array of foods on offer. After lunch, we grabbed some cheese and chorizo and headed back to our terrace for some rest (despite continued intensive renovations) and the most delicious antipasto dinner which accompanied some serious problem-of-the-world solving.
Next day was hot so we headed into the Alfama quarter nice and early to explore the narrow streets, tiled buildings and scaffolding. It seemed that the whole city was under construction - maybe if all the effort was concentrated on one project at a time there would be more noticeable progress. We meandered into the main square, greeted by a totally drinkable sky and a sparkling blue river, which accompanied scrumptious gelati. From there we went to the Museu do Fado and learned about the origins of the Portuguese singing style until we got hungry again. The one thing that we did NOT do was ride tram 28. This yellow tram is considered an icon of Lisbon and a prime tourist attraction, supposedly the best way to see the streets of Alfama. I beg to differ. We walked past the first stop and gawked at the people lined up for miles, standing in the full sun on a 30+ degree day. They would wait for an hour or more for the privilege of sitting or standing in a tiny electric tram with about the same level of personal space you'd get if you were a tinned sardine. Did I mention it was at least 30 degrees? In the words of my wise brother, "I'll pass."
Back at the apartment, our favourite tradies were at it again. Nothing a movie couldn't fix. And then we set off to a carpark in the Bairro Alto district, which sounded like an odd destination given that we did not have a car. But at the top of the car park was a rooftop bar (cleverly called 'Park Bar') with views across the city, a garden, a DJ and beverages. Other people had obviously had the same bright idea as us, because we claimed the last available seats and got down to the serious business of Appreciating the Beauty & Excellence of the sun setting over Lisbon. Ably assisted with a cocktail and tapas, naturally. We're pretty sure that Belinda requested a certain Kelis song from the DJ to add to the ambience...
On the walk home, we had a couple of polite offers of hashish and cocaine, which we politely declined. We had to be more firm in our response to the waiters that lined the streets, hoping to lure an unsuspecting tourist into their restaurant and feed them cheap food. We made it through unscathed and climbed the stairs up to our apartment for the final time.