Mediterranean Odyssey 2019 travel blog

Castle in the distance

In Bairro Alto

Fado singer

Large sangria!

Up at 7:30 today - things to do!

First breakfast in our apartment - so we had some of the cereal purchased on arrival. It was all we could find, and J reckoned it was baby food. We opened the packet - sure enough it was powdered cereal. Definitely baby food. Anyway, with Greek yoghurt, a banana, and some milk it was quite edible. Later, after talking to our guide, we were advised that was the way they eat it here. maybe they don’t have good teeth J thought to himself.

First item was to find the tourist office, and get some maps and other info for Lisbon. J looked it up on a google map and had an idea where it was . So we headed out in that general direction. We exited out of the Bairro Alto area and in front of us was a large (gravelled) park with trees, seats, a statue, and a non working fountain! The Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântra. You couldn’t walk to the viewing area due to a large temporary fence. Not sure why, but there was construction work below, so maybe they were worried about people getting too close. Next to here was the funicular da Gloria. J and C eagerly climbed aboard and in a few minutes they were down the hill and on the edge of a large square - Praça dos Restauradores. This is where we needed to be. After a good rubbernecking session where we saw some very Parisian style buildings, and the Monumento aos Restauradores ( column and statue), we made our way to the other side and walked up and down looking for the tourist office. Nowhere to be seen. J particularly looked for a blue sign with a white cursive “i” - the universal sign for information. After a while we gave up and decided J had got it wrong and we needed to go further down towards the river. C persisted, and bowled up and asked two Policemen that were standing on the corner. One seemed disinterested ( maybe he didn’t understand English) but the other was quite helpful ( except that he described the main office way down near the river). We walked down a bit towards the Praça Don Pedro IV, and C went into an optometrist and asked. Her advice - go back around the corner and turn right. We did, and there was the tourist info - the sign was a yellow “i” on a white background. We got some maps and other info.

By now tongues were hanging out, so lattes and custard tarts were had at the pastelaria on the corner. We walked back down to investigate a huge ornate “palace” that we had seen over the road. When we got there, we realised it was a railway station! We didn’t need to go there, but the escalators enabled us to get to a much higher place in minutes, with no effort! From there we walked through a small shady square, the Chafariz do Carmo, with a museum (with a guard in a sentry box) and then up another sloping road to the museu de sao roque and another square. Over the road and we were in Bairro Alto and a short walk to our apartment.

Lunch again at the Giant Croissant, then back to wait for our guide at 2.

We stood outside in our street waiting for Ana, a tour guide recommended by friends M & C! For 10 minutes we eyeballed every youngish female approaching from either direction (well J did) soon we were approached by Ana and we began our 4 hr walking tour.

She began by giving us a short history of Portugal and Lisbon. This was good as it helped with the understanding of the places we were to walk to. There was too much to describe in detail - we walked through the Chiada area, Baixa, downtown Lisbon, and the Alfama district. We stopped for a coffee at the Café A Brasileira which is the first good coffee place in town, and we also had a tot of Ginja ( cherry liqueur) served in a chocolate pot from a stall in Alfama. We saw many things and learnt many interesting things. We saw communal washing rooms in Alfama. We saw the original Alfama fountains. We had views from the Santa Justa Lift (c. 1902). J was offered drugs - he must have looked the type! We saw the site of the Massacre of the Jews and the burnt Church of St. Dominic where the massacre started.

Our tour over, we rode the elevator up and walked to our apartment. Ana had given us the name of a good restaurant in our area so we walked to where we thought it was. After 30 minutes of searching, J and C were getting jiggly, so it was decided to go somewhere else as long as it wasn’t a bar, a kebab house, or a pizza place. Consequently, the Ja Disse restaurante was selected, and it had Fado! The place was nearly full, but seats were found right next to the musicians. So we got a free Fado concert with 3 singers and 2 musicians as we had our meal. The meal was not quite as expected. We knew that a bunch of stuff would be brought to the table - J and C only chose the cod cakes, and another dish that seemed like cheese and prawns. C ordered a leek and egg dish, and J Fried cod. He was expecting a piece of fish, fries, and salad. Instead he got a pile of what looked like fried rice. However it was leek, cod, and not sure what else but seems like minced fries. It was very tasty. J had a small beer while C scoffed back a huge Sangria! J guided her up the street to the apartment.

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