Day 2 Lisbon – Sunday

/ posted in: travel

Today we headed downtown. Lisbon’s downtown was partially destroyed by an earthquake and fire in 1755. We took the metro to the Baixa-Chiado stop which is in the rebuilt area. It was only 0.85 Euros.

We found a coffee shop (for the bathrooms) that we ended up going back to three times today. Sometimes for the bathrooms and sometimes for drinks. It is American style but everything is much smaller than in America. The largest drinks are 16 oz. They have a tv advertising there other business – apartments for rent to tourists. They look very nice and the captions said that they were “surpriseling chic.” I love that word and am starting a campaign to get it officially added to the English language.

We visited the Commercial Plaza near the Rio Tejo. Then we decided to take the bus to the highest point in the city – the Castelo Sao George.

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Everybody has had possession of this castle at some point. The Moors, the Christians, and now the tourists. It is in the Alfama district which is a winding area built on a hill to the east of downtown. It survived the earthquake the spaces between the buildings are very tight like a medieval town.

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While waiting for the bus we met two British ladies who have retired to Spain. They were in Lisbon for the day on a cruise.

Before we went in the castle we followed a little sign to a small restaurant. It was two tables wide and had wonderful food. The SO had a salad and quiche and I had a vegetarian salad loaded with tomatoes, peaches, hard boiled eggs, a feta-like cheese, and a variety of lettuces. We also had two desserts that both tasted like solid creme brulee.

The castle cost 7 Euros. The structure itself is mainly a ruin but the views are wonderful. The houses in the area are built right up to the walls of the castle. No space is wasted. My favorites had terraced their backyards and put in hot tubs and playhouses right against the walls of the castle. It was very cool with the only downside being all the tourists who can look right down at you.

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The castle would never pass U.S. safety standards. There are some places that the wall is knee high and if you fall over you are dead. The interior was open to the sky. I climbed up on the walls while the SO sat and listened to a man playing classical guitar in the courtyard. The stairs were a little scary at times. He doesn’t like heights so he made a good choice to stay on the lower level. My legs hurt from the steepness of the stairs.

There are cats and peacocks in the castle. The cats seem to be very afraid of the peacocks. I think there have been fights before and the cats have not done well.

When we left the castle we decided that we couldn’t go wrong if we just kept walking downhill. That sounds like a recipe for getting seriously lost but we ended up being right and found the Se (cathedral). There is a lot of graffiti here. Someone had spray painted a slogan showing support for the comrades in Belgium and recommending setting fire to the detention center. I took a picture even though I don’t know exactly what it means. Two Korean ladies came and asked us because they didn’t understand either but we weren’t very helpful.

The Se was sort of disappointing. I’m used to very ornate cathedrals and this one was not. It is part 12th century and part 14th. There are some highly decorated side chapels.

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We also saw St. Dominick’s Church. I couldn’t figure out what was going on with this church. It was totally plain. When we left we saw a sign that explained that there was a fire in the 1950s that melted all the decoration. They left it undecorated as a reminder of the fire.

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Dinner was horrible! We got lured into a restaurant in Baixa. The SO ordered a sea food cream soup and got tomato soup. They swear it was sea food cream. I ordered potatoes and grilled vegetables. It came with a whole fish on top. That was most icky. So of course we had to make everything better with more pastries at a bakery.

Even with taking the subway to and from downtown and the bus to the castle I ended up walking 7.5 miles. The SO is having back and foot problems so we stop and sit a lot which is sort of nice. It lets us take in the atmosphere.