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Entries about lisbon

Hello Again - Spain and Portugal

Where do you go for 3 weeks in December? If you live in western Canada Arizona, Vegas and California come to mind. Mexico, Puerto Rico. Hawaii.
I am attracted to Europe.
We booked flights through KLM. We start our adventure in Barcelona on Dec 2 and fly home from Lisbon. Lisboa of the seven hills.

I am an extreme budget traveller but at 67 my tolerance for climbing 50 plus stairs to my room and sleeping on beds where the sheets do not fit - let alone sharing a bathroom with strangers - my tolerance, sad to say, has diminished.

This will not be a fifty dollar a day trip. For one thing the Canadian dollar does not go as far as it did in 2012 when our dollar was on par with the US dollar. Today one US dollar takes C1.35.
One Euro costs C1.43. Americans are lucky travelers these days - one Euro costs $1.05 US. Big difference.
A hotel right on the Mediterranean in southern Spain is a great deal, 69 Euros per night including breakfast for two people.
69 E equals C98.23 or US72. Amen.
The Costa del Sol. Coast of the sun.
It is currently late evening, approaching midnight in Malaga, and the temperature is a balmy ten degrees C.
We are enjoying an exceptionally nice November in Calgary but I did have to scrape my car windows this morning.

Wait til you hear this!!! The prototype cell phone wrist cord I developed and wore for 28 days in Sept/Oct 2015 (see blog, Chinaforcheap) has been modified and is selling like hot cakes. What to do?? I take comfort in being an inventive genius.
Mine was made with ribbon and 2 pony tail elastics (stretchy) - it was great. I suspect the girl we met at Hello Chengdu who sold cell phone cases online. She took more than a passing interest in my gadget. Idea theft alert. Sure they changed up a few things. Shades of Melania Trump borrowing Michelle Obama's speech. The press still talks about it. Hey what about me?
Pretty handy gadget for travel:
My budget for 21 days, excluding airfare and travel between cities is 75 dollars per day. $1575.
Here is the itinerary:
Barcelona - Gaudi, Picasso, La Ramblas
Antequara - dolmans and megaliths
Malaga - Costa del Sol
Granada - the Alahambra
Seville - flamenco
Evora - dolmans and megaliths
Lisbon - fado and custard tarts
Tapas and tortilla in Spain, Port and Piripiri chicken in Portugal. Heavy on Picasso, Gaudi - art, architecture and ancient culture.
Let the journey begin!!
I take one small carry on suitcase and a purse. The suitcase will be checked for air travel. Even so I am taking more with me than my last two overseas trips. I will let you know how this works!!

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 19:55 Archived in Spain Tagged seville barcelona spain granada budget bargain lisbon portugal malaga affordable value evora cheapskate antequara Comments (0)

Cabo da Roca Portugal - Where the Land Ends

sunny 17 °C

21 December 2016: the final day of our three week trip through the Iberian Penninsula.
We are taking the train from Rossio Station, Lisbon to Sintra.

Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its many castles and manor houses.

Frequent and inexpensive trains leave from Rossio Station. The trip to Sintra is just 40 minutes, an easy day trip from Lisbon.

Right beside the Sintra Station a series of buses can be taken to the various castles.

First we took a bus to Cabo da Roca.

Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point of land on Eurasia. Cape Roca.

It used to be considered the end of the world.

The cape is located 42 km west of Lisbon. The rugged cliffs are over 100 meters above the Atlantic Ocean.

The shoreline is exhilarating - with the wind whipping our hair into spirals and a casual approach to safety along an un-fenced path, we join other tourists happily taking selfies above the crashing waves.

We are glad we came. It seems a wild kind of beauty, a bit edgy. I keep an eye on the other tourists since I don't want some psychopath to give me a little shove.


The mat of greenery is an invasive succulent
Carpobrotus edulis. Native to South Africa, it was introduced to a domestic garden about 30 years ago and has taken over the landscape.

The poet, Luis Camoes' (1524 - 1580) line, "Where the land ends and the sea begins" is inscribed on the monument:

Back in Sintra we take a bus to the most spectacular castle. Wow, the Sintra Mountains are fairly steep, the road is very narrow and twisty. The bus driver honks at frequent blind curves to warn oncoming traffic we are taking up the entire road.
After the majestic Cabo da Roca it is too pedestrian to view a castle. It is heavily treed here, colder, we are quite high up. The road where we line up to catch the bus back to Sintra is so steep it would be easy to topple over and roll back down to town.
There are so many tourists we end up standing on the ride down. This is low season!

It is late afternoon when we get back to Lisbon.

Now the longest day begins as we leave for home at five am - it has come to that point where it is past doing anything but mark time.

We wander around Rossio square, pick up a few souvenirs, have coffee, dodge the homeless who hang around the steps of the National Theatre and one last time walk down Avenida Liberdade. We have been staying near a very posh street, where the rich folks shop.

Right on the corner of our street and Avenida Liberdade is a neighbourhood bar. Rhea has tea and - I forgot to mention I fixed my own dislocated jaw the other night, long story but it worked, I had a sandwich with a nice glass of red.
My suitcase is stuffed, I am also carrying my day-pack and purse. Souvenirs fill all the nooks and crannies and Rhea has my shoes in her larger suitcase. I threw out my old sandals - (I had planned on this if necessary) since I purchased the espadrilles. Still, to choose a carry on size suitcase, which I check, limits space for souvenirs.
So we are back in the hood, cab fare is 13 Euros to the airport, so much construction or it would have been less.
On one congested corner a lone policeman was directing traffic. It turned out to be cheap entertainment as one driver kept trying to sneak ahead - 4 times the whistle blew and 4 times traffic completely stopped to enable this guy to back up and wait his turn. The cop was visibly ticked off and ignored the offending car when his actual turn came up. The driver did creep ahead again but got waved back.

I flew home from Lisbon 4 years ago and don't recall the airport being so confusing.

We are early for our flight and the KLM desk isn't manned until two and a half hours before takeoff. We have to hang around on the third level common area with other people who are laying on all the seats and using all the charging stations.
I filled out a complaint card as I had nothing to do. My cell phone and tablet both needed charging, Rhea's phone was dead too, boring!!

I wanted to look up a word I read at the information Centre in Cabo de 'Lusitania.'

There was a group of young people monopolizing the three (THREE) charging stations with their laptops ???
Finally I went over and made a general announcement:

"I have to use a charging station."

I may have struck them as a little bit crazy, and who knows if anybody spoke English, but one young man acknowledged the charger I was waving around and unplugged.

I looked up Lusitanians - oh, ancestors of the Portuguese people.

Rhea covered her face with a scarf and tried to sleep while I kept one eye on the luggage and the other on solitaire and before you know it we were last in line for the KLM counter. Lucky we didn't miss our flight.

We change planes in Amsterdam, very straightforward and I spent the waiting time getting rid of all the change in the bottom of my purse. Dutch cookies, licorice and peppermints prove I spent three hours in Holland.

We had changed our seats for this leg of the journey - Rhea had an aisle seat a few rows up and I had a window seat. Why a larger person would accept a middle seat is beyond me. I had not taken my jacket off before sitting down and basically missed my chance.

KLM0677 was held up on the runway for 30 minutes. I sat scrunched in the corner pocket for 8 and a half hours.


If he folded his arms, which to his credit, he did for at least five of those hours, I shared the armrest with his stomach. He had a nap right after takeoff so I surreptitiously snapped a few pictures. I felt sorry for him also by the way, he couldn't have been comfortable either.

I am miffed at KLM. Their economy seats are too small. They crowd us in like sardines.
KLM has enhanced economy for which there is a substantial additional charge. Those seats are the size of normal economy.

Why it is acceptable for me to be sharing my seat with a stranger on a trans Atlantic flight is beyond me. Aisle would have been so much better, I could have moved one leg and arm into the aisle and had access to more air.

When things got to be too much I leaned my forehead on the window and took pictures.
This one is very interesting as it is over snow, not clouds, and I could see, but the phone camera did not really pick up, the lights of a settlement. I wondered if we were over Iceland or Greenland?
The time passed, I survived, it is 12 degrees C in Calgary, we are lucky!
And my sweet three year old granddaughter was thrilled that I was home. She loved her ladybug dress and ?

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 19:45 Archived in Portugal Tagged coast west atlantic budget europe lisbon portugal souvenirs klm sintra camoes rossio azulejo Comments (0)

Lisbon, Portugal - The Second Oldest City in Europe

sunny 16 °C

Lisbon is stacked on seven hills beside the Tagus River. It has been inhabited by Neolithic people, Celts, Phonoecians, Visigoths, Greeks, Romans, Moors..... Only Athens, in Europe, is older.
Lisbon is definitely older than Rome and London but there are arguments that Plovdiv, Bulgaria, for example, pre dates both Athens and Lisbon! So what, Lisbon is very old.

There is an enduring legend that Ulysses founded Lisbon and named it 'Enchanting Port', Ollissipo. He loved the location on the Tagus River estuary. It flows west to the Atlantic and provides my favourite interpretation of the word Lisboa: safe harbour.
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The metropolitan area has a population of over 3 million people. One third of Portugal's population live in or around the capital city.

It is bustling with tourists the past few years. With the bombings in Paris and Turkey the British, Dutch and Germans have flocked to the warmer weather in Portugal.
I was in Lisbon in December 4 years ago and I do not recall so many tourists. The other thing I notice are the cranes. They are everywhere. I was told by someone at my hotel that the workers are Portuguese but the owners are foreign. 'We don't own our country anymore.' Yes, we can empathize.
It is 16 degrees C the day we arrive, December 18. Lisbon has the mildest winter of any Western European city.
We are staying at Marino Boutique Hotel just one block uphill from the wide and relatively flat vistas of Ave Liberdade, the 37th most expensive street in the world.
We are an easy walk from Rossio Square.
A buffet breakfast is included in our rate. The breakfast room is a pretty, enclosed roof terrace with balcony options. The hotel has a lift but it only goes to the 4 th floor. The terrace is on the fifth.
Our room is clean and bright, with a balcony, not too shabby for about fifty-seven Canadian dollars per night including a good breakfast.
We book hop on and off tickets on the yellow bus line for Dec 19 and 20. At twenty Euros each the ticket includes access to the trams, the aero-bus, city buses, funiculars and two elevators for two full days.
Our first route takes us to Belum Tower.
Torre Belum opened in 1521 as a defensive fortress.
A busker is playing violin, street sellers are flogging scarves, necklaces and selfie sticks, tourists are posing to get the river and tower in the background. We are not allowed into the tower. It is closed on Mondays.
We enjoy Belum Tarts, pastéis de nata, (custard and cinnamon baked in flaky pastry) and cafe au lait on a patio by the river. It will reach 17 C today.
It is easy to while away an hour in this setting.
Hopping back on the bus we get to the end of the line. Everybody must get off the bus. Five minutes later the bus rolls forward about twenty feet and you can get back on.
There is a cemetery by the stop. Instead of headstones there are little houses. It seems we are in a village of the dead.
On this pleasant blue sky day the cemetery is calm and peaceful. We sit on a bench on a quiet, leafy street and enjoy the sunshine.
Cemitério dos Prazeres is on the routes of both Trams 25 and 28.
We rode the yellow hop on and off bus to a more modern side of the city where there are the requisite shopping centres and high rise apartments. Some buildings have stunning modern architecture.
The Oriente Train Station, pictured below, was designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, who, coincidentally, designed the Peace Bridge in Calgary:
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Lisbon has a suspension bridge, the 25 Abril Bridge, that resembles the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco:
Near the Bridge on the east side of the Tagus River is a statue modeled after a statue in Rio de Janeiro:
There are decaying buildings here as well even on the tourist route:
Lisbon also sports world class street art:
We hopped on tram 25 to see the hilly sections, rattling and swaying up and down narrow steep streets.
It is coming into rush hour, The tram is packed you can't see a thing. I was glad to get off near Rossio to walk home.
I had a couchsurfing contact meet-up arranged to learn more about the culture. His name was Antonio and he met us at our hotel. We went for a two hour walk down Liberdade to Commercio Square and when we stopped for ice cream he gave us some sightseeing tips.

On 20 December we used our hop on bus pass to ride a funicular and elevator. The Gloria funicular is close to our hotel and takes riders to Bairro Alto. The tram going down pulls the tram going up.

Right beside the Eiffel Tower lookalike, Justa lift, I spotted a sale at a shoe store.

I bought a pair of Spanish Espedrilles and real suede leather dress shoes for four Euros and ninety cents each - about 15 C for 2 pairs of shoes.
The Santa Justa lift was designed by a student of Gustavo Eiffel. You can climb to a lookout tower on top of the elevator. The stairs are narrow and winding, whew I made it. We were really quite high up and I felt a bit dizzy.

Lisbon is a very pretty city with the river and hills. Lots of white stucco and red tiled roofs interspersed with church steeples.

It seems Roma beggars like to set themselves up on church steps. I wonder if they do better with people who are coming out or with those going in.

Right next to Justa Elevator the roof-line skeleton of Carmo Convent stands as a reminder of the 9 point earthquake which devastated the city in 1755.
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Central Lisbon was rebuilt on a grid system with street-scapes modern for the time. Thus the wide main streets like Avenida Liberdade with its park-like central plazas follow the plan that was developed just a month after the catastrophe.
It was a tremendous undertaking to clear the rubble and start anew and the successful result is credited to the Marquis of Pombal whose statue dominates the square with his name.

The aqueduct survived the earthquake even though it was on a fault line, a tribute to the engineers and architects of the mid eighteenth century:
The earthquake was felt all over Europe. In addition to its massive scale it occurred on the morning of a religious holiday. Mass was underway when the quake hit and most church roofs collapsed. Thousands of worshipers perished in the packed cathedrals on All Saints Day 1755.
The candles burning in the churches started fires that were as destructive as the earthquake and tsunami. Two thirds of the city was destroyed by the fire that burned for five days.

The Royal Palace and its treasure trove of Art and historical documents burned to the ground.
Commercio Square was built where the palace once stood. Coincidentally the second last monarch of Portugal was murdered in Commercio Square.
Libraries and archives crumbled, burned or were swept into the sea. Three quarters of the city needed to be rebuilt,

The impact of the earthquake had wide reaching effects on the traumatized people of the time. The king, who was not in Lisbon
when the earthquake struck, developed claustrophobia so intense that he lived out his days in a royal court composed of tents and pavilions.

The poor area of Alfama was built on high rock so withstood the tsunami and did not have much earthquake damage.
Alfama is the oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon and displays a strong Moorish influence
The tiles decorating so many doorways and walls in Lisbon were adopted from the hundreds of years of Muslim rule. The Arabs brought Azulejo, tile making, to Portugal and Spain.
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Winding narrow streets trudge up from the river. It is the place to enjoy Fado, the morose, blues-like music of Portugal. It is here you will find the Fado museum.
Fado was the music of the poor. Prostitutes, sailors and the lower class.
It became mainstream and an accepted musical form for all classes through the performances of Amalia Rodrigues. (1929 - 1999).
We did not go to Fado but had lunch at a charming restaurant with a TripAdvisor sticker on the door.

We now maneuver our way downhill to link up with Tram 28. More tourists are out and about as it is later in the day plus the tram is part of the regular transit system so locals use it as well. It is standing room only but eventually we get a seat.
Tram 28 is a vintage wooden tram and a tourist attraction itself. It screeches and sways as the warning bell rings, maneuvering sharp turns and steep hills. It has a very long route but you can hop on and off.
We decided to switch to tram 25 and it is rush hour. May I suggest this is not an optimum time for a tourist to be using city-transit. We wait 45 minutes for a tram that has room for us. It really cools off when the sun goes down.

Although Lisbon appears to be full of white buildings with red tile roofs it is a multi-coloured city, the yellow exteriors of Commercio Square come to mind.
The number of pink buildings is worth a mention.
The former Royal Palace, now the Palacio Nacional de Belum, official residence of the Prime Minister, is pink.
The first shopping mall in Lisbon, very central for tourists to access, is pink and blue.
Amoreiras Shopping Centre opened in the mid eighties and its post modernist style was controversial. Today it is a Lisbon icon:
There are Pinterest pages devoted to the pink buildings of Lisbon!

Still when I think of Lisbon, my mind's eye sees red tile roofs over white buildings, marching up and down hills against a bright blue sky:

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 19:10 Archived in Portugal Tagged history travel cemetery pink budget lisbon portugal lisboa earthquake calatrava belem tile rossio liberdade iberian azulejo lusitania seat61 Comments (0)

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