Castles and fish - day 42
Lisbon Travel Blog› entry 49 of 57 › view all entries
Our second day in Lisbon we saw a lot more of the city than we did on the first day but there were a few places that I didn’t tell you about yesterday. One of the first things you see sailing into the city is a giant 752 foot tall statue “Cristo Rei” or Christ the King standing with outstretched arms blessing the city. This is visible as you sail under an enormous suspension bridge that bears a strong resemblance to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and was even built by the same construction company. I got some great nighttime photos of the bridge and Lisbon and if I ever get a decent Wi-Fi connection again I’ll post them. (I hadn’t realized that satellite internet on a ship with 600 other people would be so limited in bandwidth – should have realized this but I’d never thought it through.
Another interesting place is the Lisbon bullring. It’s a large Moorish looking arena and we were told that in Portugal the bulls were not killed in the bullfight. The fight ends when the bull is grabbed and held immobile by the strength of eight men. I found out later that means the bulls were not killed in the arena but were dispatched later outside.
Anyway, on the second day here, we took a taxi up to the Castle of St George which overlooks the city. The driver didn’t speak English well and we don’t speak Portuguese at all but somehow we communicated. He drove us through little narrow streets through the old Moorish section Alfama to the Castle. In fact most of the streets are too narrow for cars or are just steps going up between buildings so the narrow streets the taxi took are in fact the main thoroughfare for this district.
The castle was built starting in the 11th century by the Moors and added to and enlarged for centuries. Its walls are largely unchanged since the 16th century when Vasco de Gama was here. We wander around admiring the views of Lisbon and having coffee while peacocks flirt past. A man walks by and is soon surrounded by eight or nine cats that are obviously following him but pretending not to, in standard cat-fashion. Intrigued, we follow the man and the cats inside the inner walls. During a casual greeting to the “cat-man” he introduces us to several of the cats.
We walked down from the castle to the main square by taking streets and alleys at random, choosing whatever looked interesting as long as it went vaguely downhill.
We ate lunch at a randomly chosen outdoor cafe and I had grilled espada (that weird black fish I’d seen in Madeira) again and wonderful white sangria (made somehow with white wine, soda, oranges, apples and cinnamon sticks). Then we got on (it’s a wonder we could still move after the walk and the lunch) another “hop on” bus and rode to the Coach Museum. I wasn’t really expecting much from a museum of old royal coaches but was amazed by the workmanship and also the glimpse of what royal life might have been like in the 18th century.
Luckily I was still awake when we sailed out of Lisbon at 11 pm. The city lights faded behind us as we sailed down the river and out into the Atlantic, away from Europe and back to North America. I was watching and photographing until after 1 am.