Lisbon\'s beautiful...wait, how the heck did I end up wandering to the freeway?
Lisbon Travel Blog› entry 11 of 98 › view all entries
Last night my phone died so there was no alarm clock to wake me up, which meant that I didn't wake up until 10 minutes to check out at the Steps House. Annnd I couldn't find my jacket or phone from last night. I really didn't drink that much! Ben helped me find it and said it was cool if I left my stuff there for a few hours so I could let it charge, so I took that opportunity to spend more time wandering around Porto, this time heading more into the Old Town, which has loads of UNESCO sights. While some people may say that this city has places that seem run down, I just say it has lots of character. For some reason I was having trouble finding a store that sold postcards-I couldn't fail my postcard collection this early! I ended up taking a taxi to the train station, where they had plenty-phew!
Validating my Eurail ticket was super easy, to my relief, and I started my 3 hour train ride to Lisbon without a hitch, arriving about an hour before Duarte, the guy I'm couchsurfing with, was going to meet me at the station.
We both ordered Portuguese beer and different types of Codfish, which is a tradition here. Apparently the country used to be really poor, and Codfish was incredibly cheap, so is eaten a lot still to this day. I've learned so much about Portugal from him, from it's history, to it's culture. For example, he brought me to the building where the revolution took place. This non-violent coupe saw not a single shot fired, but instead red flower that look much like the California poppy, was inserted into the barrels of all the guns. How cool is that? We also went by a big statue in Belem that had been erected to honor many figures in history, especially those that had been sailors. Many would leave for months or years at a time, less than half of the ships ever making it back, and when a ship did come back, half the crew had usually perished.
I'm loving this city already, but it's time for bed!
Porto-Lisbon (Estacio Oriente) (2 hrs. 47 mins) Requires transfer (ALFA Train)-reserve 1 day before departure (free with Eurail Pass)
Embassy: Avenida das Foracas Armadas, 1600 Lisboa 21/727-3300 (open 8-4)
Day trip: Estacio Rossio in Lisbon-Sintra (trains depart every day on platform 4 and 5 every 15-30 minutes. Trip takes 45 minutes and costs 2 Euros
Estacio Rossio: Old station built in the Manueline style of the Portuguese kings-ground floor holds information office open from 10-1 & 2:30-6. Domestic travel window open from 7-3:30, and international window open from 9-12 & 2:30-6
Getting Around Lisbon: CARRIS operates public transportation-a bilhete de assinature turistico will cover all forms of public transport for the day and costs 3.
In the Alfama:
Castelo de Sao Jorge- This gorgeous fortress sits upon a hill and is a former citadel of past Portuguese kings. In 1147, Afonso Henriques chased out the Moores, making it a royal abode until 1511, when a much more lavish palace was constructed near the harbor by Manuel I. Sadly, the 1755 earthquake devastated much of it, but the dictator, Salazar, had the walls rebuilt and exquisite gardens added in 1938. The grounds are covered in peacocks, olive, pine, and cork trees, and a magnificent view of the city can be taken in from the shaded observation platform.
Museo Antoniano- It is said that this church stands in the very spot where St. Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan monk who later became Portugal's patron saint, was born in 1195. The crypt is the only architecture remaining today from the original church, with the present architecture dating from 1757 based on designs from Mateus Vicente. What makes it most unique is the blending of boroque and neoclassical styles. Many married couples leave flowers for St. Anthony on their wedding day. There is a museum right next to the church dedicated to manuscripts, images, and ex-votos of St. Anthony, who was raised in Lisbon, but spent much of his adult life in Padua.
Se (Cathedral)- Roman and Gothic architecture make up this cathedral, and it's twin towers at the entrance make a nice statement. It was built from orders by Afonso Henriques for Lisbon's first post-Moore bishop. While this may not be the most attractive cathedral you'll see in Europe, interesting historic symbols can be found here, such as the font where it is said that St. Anthony of Padua was christened in 1195, a gothic chapel, and a crib by Machado de Castro.
In Belem: Purtuguese caravails set sail from the mouth of the Tagus River to discover and map the world, which led to the capture of Goa, open trade between India and the East, the colonization of Brazil, and China granting Macau as a trading post
How to get there: Take tram 15 for the 20 minute ride from Praca do Comercio (in the center of Lisbon), or take bus number 29 or 43, which also leave from the same place. You can also take the slow train from Cais do Sodre, which are marked "Cascais."
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos- This monestary was made by orders from Manual I "The Fortunate" to commemorate the success of Vasco da Gama's voyage to India. This beautiful project was financed by "pepper money," or money made from the spice trade, and bears flamboyant gothic architecture mixed with Moorish influences.The Ingreja de Santa Maria, a chapel on the grounds built by Henry the Navigator, is said to have the most gorgeous interiors of any of Lisbon's churches, with intricate netword vaulting and cloisters through the West door. One of the most notable features are the three naves with delicate columns and ribbed barrel vaulting. Several of the most famous Portuguese heros are entombed in this church, such as Vasco da Gama and the national poet, Luis Vas de Camoes, who authored the famous Lusiads, which glorifies the triumphs of his compatriots.
Museo de Marinha-A magnificent maritime museum showing Portugals extensive seafaring past, located in the west wind of Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. Before leaving for voyages, mariners took Mass here, even including the journey Vasco da Gama took around the Cape of Good Hope in order to open the sea route to India.
Museo Nacional dos Coches- deemed the world's greatest coach museum, it is one of Portugal's most visited attractions. The wife of Carlos I, Amelia, founded it in a riding academy built in the 1700's. The oldest coach to be found here is the four-wheeler of Philip of Spain, brought to Portugal in the later part of the 16th century.
Torre de Belem- This quadrangular fortress was built by Manuel I during the Age of DIscovery, and was the starting point for the mariners as they set off to chart the seas. Battlements in the shape of shields and Moorish-style watchtowers make it a spectacular sight. The Fonte Luminosa sits in the middle of the square, with a fountain show lasting for about an hour every night, with an amazing 70 different patterns.
Museums worth seeing: Museo da FFundacau Calouste Gulbenkian (Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Islamic art) && the Museo Nacional de Arte Antiga
Short and Sweet History: Lisbon's glory period came in the 15th and 16th centuries when mariners sailed out to discover unchartered seas, discovering the first route going from Western Europe around Africa, all the way to the Indies, which was the beginning of the spice trade. Bringing abundant wealth from this, the city became known as the "Queen of the Tagus River." In 1775, an earthquake devastated the city, but the World Fair in 1998 brought back it's proud glow.