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The following day the rain had stopped and the sun came out every now and then. We stopped off at a supermarket for our weekly shop and headed for a campsite on the outskirts of Lisbon. Again an Oribitur site, unfortunately, but there was a bus stop nearby that took us to a ferry for a short crossing over to Lisbon where we then got on a tram into the centre.
When we were booking in on the site another Autotrail motorhome pulled up behind us so we had a short conversation with the couple Mary and Alan. A little later they passed by our van and stopped for a chat so we invited them in for a while. The next day we saw them waiting for the ferry back to the campsite and were invited back to their motorhome later that evening. It was really nice hearing the places they have been to and their experiences.
The sun came out and it was a really nice hot day for our trip to Lisbon which is the capital of Portugal. The ferry took us across from Trafania to Belem which is an attractive area near to the monuments. There were quite a few motorhomes parked up here and although no facilities it is central for the train station, tram hop on hop off bus. Something we may consider if we come back to Lisbon in the future. The GPS coordinates for this parking is: N38.69567 W-9.19893 S
Walking around the Belem area we saw the Tower of Belém and the Belém’s magnificent 16th-century Monastery of Jerónimos and the Cultural Centre, which features a fantastic art collection. After stopping off for lunch we thought we would walk into the centre of Lisbon. How wrong we were! We started walking and we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere near the centre. In the end, we went back to the main road and caught a tram in. It was a long tram journey so we were so pleased we hadn’t walked all the way otherwise we would not have been able to walk around once in the centre. It was also really crowded so was clutching my bag tightly and watching that Ray kept his hand in his pocket where his wallet was.
We got off the tram at Praca do Comercio at the southern edge of the Baxia district and overlooking the River Tagus estuary. This is the city’s main square and is the largest of the 4 squares in Baxia. It’s a very impressive riverside square and is the major hub for the tram network. Three sides of the square are surrounded by grand yellow painted government offices and the other side overlooks the River Tagus estuary. The city is a little more unusual because it has both a river and a coastline.
Standing In the centre of the Prac do Comercio square is a 14-metre bronze statue of King Jose I. While we were taking photos we could hear jazz music coming out of one of Lisbon’s oldest cafés the Martinho da Arcada.
With its white bleached limestone buildings, intimate alleyways and perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean Lisbon really is a site to see.
Hop-on-hop-off tours are available to get around Lisbon. Yellow Bus Sightseeing Tours have tours in a double-decker bus and old tramcars. They also have a Hippotrip which launched earlier this year and provides an amphibious vehicle.
Tram 28 is a speciality traditional tram that winds its way through the “Old Town” of Lisbon taking you past many of Lisbon’s most famous and interesting sites including monuments, churches and gardens. The trip is hilly, noisy and hectic but you get to see many beautiful parts of the city. The cost is 2.85Euros paid at a vending machine on board. You do need to have the correct money and they only accept coins. We didn’t realise this when we got on and did not have any change. We were very lucky an inspector didn’t get on. We got off a few stops down got some change and then got back on and was pleased we did as there was an inspector on this next tram.
We saw the Elevador De Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift) which is a beautifully crafted elevator that transports passengers from Baixa up to the ruins of the Igre Ja do Carmo church, high above central Lisbon.
The elevator experiences long queues and can get quite cramped in the summer season. A single ticket costs 2.80 euros.
The elevator has two cabins which can transport 29 passengers in each. The journey from Baixa to the walkway that connects to Rua do Carmo is 45 metres. At the top of the elevator is a viewing platform and café which provides great views over the centre of Lisbon. I should imagine it would be a great location to view Lisbon by night.
Alfama is the city’s oldest district with architecture that has an Arab feel ranging from late medieval to 19th-century buildings. You can get lost in its timeless maze of alleyways, steps and ancient, multi-tiered houses.
Chiado is an elegant shopping and residential district. There are a number of independent shops and well-known brands. As well as lots of cafes, restaurants, bookshops and a dedicated shopping area.
Avenida da Liberdade: is home to the designer shops Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, etc. This area is also lovely and wide with fancy hotels and restaurants.
We finished the afternoon at a bar relaxing and people watching (yet again) with a Cervejo (small glass of beer)
The journey back by tram, ferry then bus went quite smoothly and was made better by meeting up again with Mary and Alan on the ferry.
Lisbon is another great city break for a long weekend. There are lots of flight deals and flights go from Stansted Cheapflights UK
Next morning we decided it was time to head straight down to the Algarve.