Lisbon Travel Blog› entry 1 of 3 › view all entries
June 3rd, 2009 – by: l_quah
There's nothing like walking down a deserted Rua Augusta, with it's smooth cobbles and the dominating arch at the river end of the street. It's totally flat too, which is a huge contrast to the steep hilly roads around the main streets of downtown. The city had this weird feel of exotic Moorish architecture and intricately carved doorways mixed in with 20th Century buildings that looked like they had survived the 1920's perfectly intact.
I spent a great deal of effort locating food - the seafood and piri-piri chicken was fantastic, and I scoffed as much of it as I could. I carefully controlled my intake of the pasties de natas (egg custard tarts) though, as I could definitely have made myself sick on them - so good, so addictive.
There is so much to see in Lisbon itself, and it's all spread quite far apart. The Campo do Pequena is the bullring in Lisbon, though it looks like some moorish palace from the outside. We did a quick tour around the outside of it, but despite the Portuguese claiming their bullfight is a lot more "ethical" than the Spanish one, I still wasn't very tempted by a show.
Climbing to Castelo de Sao Jorge is well worth the inelegance of appearing at the gateway, panting and red-faced. The views across the city are magnificent, though we had to stop en route for a reviving mango juice at a bar which had an awesome terrace looking out over the city and river. The castle itself is OK, the views are what is worth paying for - oh, and also being able to play around on the mini towers and ramparts of the castle, a la six-year-olds.
The Mosteiros Jeronimos in Belem was also one of my favourites - it's a truly grand building, impressive in it's beauty inside and out. The park out the front of it is also picturesque, though the inner courtyard with it's two storeys of graceful arches and intricately carved stonework is what got my oohs and aahs.
We thought to escape from the chaos at the Pasties de Belem, which was deservedly famous for their egg custard tarts. This place was just as bustling as the Monastery, and we waited in line only to find out you had to pre-pay at the tiny counter on the right before presenting your receipt to the servers to fulfil your order. Well worth the hassle though, as the tarts are all served warm and wolfing them down whilst waiting for our bus back to downtown Lisbon was no biggie.
The west side of the downtown Lisbon area seemed more bustling with shops and cafes for the Portuguese.
Speaking of attitude, one word of warning for the female travellers - Portuguese men, it seems, have no concept of what "sexual harassment" is. In fact, if you ignore a leering remark, the philosophy seems to be "Perhaps if I now make a suggestive noise or repeat my remark, she'll suddenly take an interest in me". This is life here, and if you're fortunate enough to speak Portuguese you can tell them where to go - otherwise, the policy seems to be ignore, ignore, ignore. And if that doesn't work, a nice big sneer seems to shut them up too.
Although I'd heard from others how great Lisbon was, and I thought I was prepared for what it would offer, it still surprised me with it's fusion of atmospheres. I felt sometimes like I was in a sunny British castle, or in a Moroccan street, or in Paris at the turn of the Century. I guess that's what captures people!
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