We left Sarasota en route to Lisbon via Atlanta. Our flights were uneventful (thankfully so,) other than getting very limited sleep during our overnight international flight.
We arrived bright and early Saturday morning, cleared immigration and customs, got some Euros, stopped at the Vodafone store at the airport for SIM cards, and headed to the Corinthia Hotel to drop off luggage.
After a (semi-) quick stop for breakfast, we got metro cards and headed out for the first of two days sightseeing in Lisbon prior to joining others for our Odyssey’s Unlimited tour on Monday.
We started with one of the most touristy things to do: tram 28. These are old electric trolley cars that travel on tracks. We weren’t sure why they were so popular, but we braved the long line for almost an hour and hopped onboard.
The ride took us through a great deal of Lisbon, up and down its seven hills, tightly squeezing past parked cars, pedestrians, and buildings on the tracks. We tried to identify several landmarks that we had read about, but mostly in vain.
However, it gave us a feel for the city, a chance to catch glimpses of it’s character, and a feel for the geography - plus it was lots of fun.
After finding several interesting bites to eat at a local "Mercado" (indoor market) nearby, we took an Uber back to the hotel to check in.
It’s always hard to recover from a 5 hour change of time, but we were determined to quickly acclimate to both eating and sleeping habits of our new country. After just a short rest, we left for one of Rick Steve’s walks to really find out about Lisbon.
We explored the Baixa (low) district, starting at the waterfront. After the disastrous earthquake of 1755 destroyed most of Lisbon, this part of the city was rebuilt in a grid—easy to get around. Praça do Comércio, the first of three squares we visited, is massive, with statues, and the huge Arch de Triumph (Vasco da Gama on the left, and Pombal(chief minister of King Jose I) on the right). The waterfront was crowded with people, watching ships, ferries, tourist boats, etc. in the late afternoon sun.
Traveling by foot up and down these streets gave us a great feel for the churches and architecture of Lisbon. The use of colorful decorative tiles, called azulejos, and the black and white street tiles were fascinating.
The ironwork, which Lisbon is known for, was diverse and eye-catching. And need we say, ...doors and door pulls, one of Wendy’s favorites!
Our walk continued through the Rossio, another square, trying some Ginjinha- a sweet, very potent cherry liquor, passing the beautiful Rossio train station, and the oldest theater in Lisbon, the art-deco Eden.
We finished the tour on the Elevador da Gloria funicular that connects the Baixa and Barrio Alto district.
By now, we had hit our wall at this point, took some beautiful pics of the Lisbon skyline, and came back down to find some dinner.
The restaurant we choose, Sol Dourado, had fish still swimming, and delicious house wine. Wendy tried grilled octopus (scrumptious!), and Jim had grouper. We would go back in a minute. Took the metro home, using the last of our daily Via Vagrem fares, and literally fell into bed.