By not going to Germany, we ended up with 5 days in Lisbon. The translation of Lisbon to English is “like San Francisco but cheaper”. Very similar in that the hills are endless. A lot of time in one spot for us so after a recovery afternoon, we had a quick of the city in a Tuk Tuk (spelled same as Thailand). Expensive but a quick way to get oriented and we got to see the highlights and different parts of town and found the Time Out market and our “go to” restaurant. And our first street performer playing “Wonderwall” with intoxicated English lasses singing at a great lookout point, Miradouro da Graça. Our tuk tuk driver (who was Scottish) said the COVID restrictions on the UK really cut down on the public drunkness.
But we did find the key points which inform a visit to Lisbon
* Combination of cultures – with Christians and Muslims (Moors) both having key roles
* An earthquake in 1755 re-defined the city
* The downtown area was rebuilt to a more modern standard with a grid and wide streets (now 300 years old) versus some parts that survived and our 1,000 years old with narrow streets and wind aimlessly.
* Pretty much the end of the Portuguese global leadership.
On our second day in Lisbon, we visited museums that we normally would not have had time to visit – António de Medeiros e Almeida Collection – a rich guy who imported cars into the country in the 1900s and we was a collector of eclectic items. The audio was told from the first person and it did not hide his ego. We also visited the City of Lisbon museum and the St. Vincent’s Monastery.
Had to get back to the HI Express at the airport for a Teams call and to pick up our luggage to make our check-in time in city center Lisbon – so a pretty tight transition.
Tight transitions are not good in Portugal. But got into our AirBNB without any issues and it was centrally located and we could then take the metro (Baixa-Chiado stop) and tram (routes 28 and 24) throughout the city. Found a Brazilian place near our AirBNB that served wine and pastries and had street performers – no audience until they played “Wonderwall” then lots of people showed up.
We hit the major sites on Tuesday and had a “tapas” crawl that we had signed up for on AirBNB experiences. It was good, interesting food (but still a bit hungry afterwards!) and a German guide but an early night as we had to meet Annelise back at the airport at 6:30am. I got a solid bike ride in during the morning – about 3 hours along the river. Probably the only flat place in Portugal!
It took Annelise several hours to clear immigration – apparently there was a strike that day. After she caught up on sleep – we repeated many of the sites from our first couple of days, including sunset at Miradouro da Graça.
On our final day in Lisbon, we went to Belem. The famous site is the Tower of Belem, which we thought was the primary site – it wasn’t. Belem is a great place with many interesting places to visit and an upscale neighborhood. In particular the Jerónimos Monastery was outstanding. We also went to the Carriage Museum (Coach) which is the most visited museum in Lisbon…it was OK but not as good as other places we saw.
Finished up with dinner at our to go restaurant – it was basically on stairs.
And a trip to McDonalds – Portugal is # 29 on my McDonalds list
Overall, great, compact city with cheap food and wine. If you like cities, this would a very easy place to settle into and retire.