My last visit to Lisboa, or Lisbon was right after 9-11. I spent most of my time in Portugal playing golf on the Algarve, and just a few nights is Lisboa. I hope to learn more about this very underrated city and country during my visit. One thing I learned on my first trip: Do not try to use Spanish, in hopes that the Portuguese will understand. English works better!
Lisboa is the capital with just over half a million residents, though the city seems much bigger to me. In fact, the metro area is closer to 3 million people. Lisboa’s urban area is the largest in the EU and continues to grow each year. Yet Lisboa only gets about 140,000 tourists annually. The city boasts 290 days of sunshine annually! Seafood is a big deal here, and I intend to enjoy as much as I can, along with some of the traditional treats.
I will spare you the history of Lisboa and move directly to what interests me. I never had time to take the “hop on, hop off” bus on my previous trip, so that might be my first option upon arrival. The Baixa area where I am staying is ideal for street exploring. The old city, Alfama is adjacent and easy to reach. Alfama is also home to the famous fado music. Belem, the traditional port area, is in the suburbs and just a 15-minute ride of the streetcar.
The Vasco da Gama (remember him from your history lessons?) Bridge over the Tagus River is one of the longest in Europe at 17.2 km. Though it took about three years to build, it was completed in time to celebrate 500th anniversary of da Gama’s trip from Europe to India. Speaking of which, the Lisboa Geographical Society is a great place to start. The museum is full of artifacts from every country in Portugal’s former colonial empire, from Mozambique to Macau.
Quite soon on this trip, I need to find the famous Time Out Market, with forty spaces across several food categories. The food has been tested and approved by an independent panel of city culinary experts. As you know, I love the local, and rather colorful markets.
The most famous tram route, and the one everyone, at least tourists, take to see the interesting parts of the city is No. 28. It passes through each of the popular tourist districts of Alfama, Baixa, Estrela, and Graca. You may have seen photos of the famous old yellow trams, built in the 1930s. I would compare it quite favorably to San Francisco’s cable cars. The fare is only 3 Euros.
Bom dia! *
*= both hello and goodbye in Portuguese