Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lisbon- a city of grandeur and glory days

We are now back in Lisbon, after 28 years!  Last time we visited was 1986.  Hard to believe so much time has passed.  But what has really passed is our memory:-).  First impressions after all these years: Lisbon needs an Army- an army of maids to clean this dirty place; an army of painters to paint over the peeling paint; an army of gardeners to trim, mow, weed, plant; and an army of fix-it men to fix everything that is broken.  It is apparent Lisbon has seen better days!   Also, Portugese sounds so much like Russian with all the shshsh's and zhzhzh's in their language, just softer.

 Second impression- what a lovely city!  It is a baby Spain, with cute little plazas everywhere, nice people, great food and good wine and beer, lots of statues, and great tile.  It is such an endearing city!!!!  Plus we scored this bare-bones hotel (not even hangers in the closet or a sink in the room) for 20€ ($28) per night!

Lisbon is on the River Tagus, which empties into the Atlantic- an amazing sight!  Probably the widest river I have ever seen!  As we walked and sight-saw, we started to remember how much we loved this city.  It is old Europe in a nut shell!!  Visit it!!!!

There are 3 main areas we, as tourists and foreigners, care about: The Alfama, on the left hill as you look at the Tagus from Comercio  Square, the center of life in Lisbon.  This is the oldest area of the city, with the castle of St. Jorge looking over the city.  The Alfama is a series of small curvy streets, from the Moorish occupation.  The flat part in the center is the Baixa (Baizhzha) area- rebuilt in the grid pattern after the 1755 earthquake- great plazas, restaurants and beautiful buildings covered in tile. Most hotels and museums are in this area,  The right side is the hills of the Barrio Alto- grid pattern, with all the bars and restaurants.  Don't let this area fool you- it is packed with people, good food, good wine, Fado music, Jazz, and beer.  Oh- and tons of college kids.   It also has the best spots for sunset!  When it is not so busy, it looks like an area you would get knifed in!

Really, this city, despite having seen better days, has all the signs of revitalization and restoration, as it should!  It is a gem of a city.

I will stop the blathering now and here are some pictures!

 Commercio Square from the river cruise
 Commercio Square from atop the St. Jorge castle

You know how Rich and I always climb everything, despite the warning signs?  Well, it finally caught up with us:-)   (just joking!!!!  We didn;t really fall!)

 View of the castle walls from one of the tower windows.

 Commercio Square with the city arch, statue of King Jao, and the castle on the hill!
 Close up of the castle!
 across the river from Lisbon is this huge statue of Jesus, much like in Rio.  We took the elevator:-)

 Lisbon has busses and trams, and these cool cable cars- our preferred method of going up those grueling hills!
 The Alfama!

 Basilica of St. Vincent in the St. Jerome monestary in Belem
 the altar!

 selfie at St. Jeromes
 St. Jeromes from atop the monument to navigation (below)
 Front view of the monument to navigation!  Note the sword!
 Side view- check out the cool statues!  They are HUGE- much larger than life like.

 The Belem Tower!  There was one on the other side of the River Tagus, but it did not survive time.  These were used to have cross-fire across the river in case of invasion.
Me at the draw bridge of the Tower
Ramparts of the Tower- note the Knights Templar cross on each!

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