Portugal, Lisbon and Mountaineering Sightseeing

Lisbon Tram

It was hot in Lisbon, very hot indeed, everyone kept telling us that Portugal was in the grip of a heat wave and that it was too hot, but we didn’t mind, we were on holiday.  We settled into our studio apartment, cranked up the fan and then left and made for the nearby centre of Baixa.

By now it was late afternoon and the heat was beginning to drain away into the deep shadows cast by the tall buildings and the sun was melting into the deep pools of shade of doorways and courtyards so we enjoyed a walk to a shady park where we stopped for a beer and then took a stroll through the elegantly tiled but grotesquely graffiti scarred streets of the town.  I was shocked by the urban scrawl which some call art but I call vandalism.  I didn’t like it.

In contrast I liked the views from the top of the city even though there was a lot of construction work going on.  From a high vantage point we looked across to the castle and the cathedral and down to the river and the commercial centre.  We continued to walk down and down, I had no idea that Lisbon was going to be so steep and hilly and it was beginning to make Rome or Valletta seem like Florida in the USA or Lincolnshire in the UK.

Eventually we reached the ruins of a cathedral but it was getting late so we didn’t pay to go inside.  Ruined because it was destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake which was one of the World’s major catastrophic seismological events – ever!

It occurred before the introduction of the Richter Scale of course (1935) but today it is estimated that the Lisbon earthquake had a magnitude in the range 9.0  to 9.5 which, on a scale of 1 to 10,  is just about as big as it is possible to get and makes the event possibly the biggest ever in the history of the World.  The resulting Tsunami reached the Caribbean in the west and as far as Greenland to the North.  This was one hell of a bang let me tell you!

We were struggling to get our bearings but managed to grope our way back to the apartment passing on the way a restaurant that caught our eye for evening meal.  I found a shop for beer and wine and next day breakfast essentials and then we sat and relaxed, changed and wandered back to the restaurant.  It was full, really full and no slots left all evening so we booked for the following night and set off to find an alternative.

After a long walk I liked where we found but Kim was still sulking so we didn’t linger long after dining and returned and spent our first night in Portugal in our tiny studio.

Lisbon Doors and windows

The next morning the sky was blue, the sun was rapidly rising in the sky and by the time we had prepared and eaten breakfast, tidied up and left the apartment the mercury was already rising rapidly.

The plan was to make our way down to the River Tagus and then take in some of the sights along the way.  Some way along the planned route we took an unnecessary detour and we managed to get sucked into the labyrinth of back streets and got quite lost.  I confess that this was entirely my mistake but happily Kim didn’t seem to spot this, or, if she did, she generously chose to overlook it and not mention it.  I kept quiet about it.

lisbon streets

We eventually emerged from the streets down to the river and some way away we could see the famous 25 de Abril (previously António Salazar) Bridge and we started to walk towards it.  It turned out to be further than we estimated and the view wasn’t that special anyway so eventually we abandoned the walk and made our way back up a another steep hill to the city centre.

At the top of the hill we visited the Basilica but I have to agree with Kim on this point, it wasn’t memorable and it looked like any similar church or cathedral in Catholic Europe and as we walked out of the door I immediately forgot all about it.

Lisbon Commecial Centre

Back at the river we stopped for a drink and an hour in the sunshine and then we tackled the walk back to the apartment. We passed through the Commercial Centre with its magnificent buildings where it was possible with a bit of imagination to conjure up a vision of a major naval and commercial centre with ships and dockyards where now there are tourist river cruises and ice cream parlours.

Eventually we found our way back to the apartment where we sat and enjoyed the local environment before making our way to the chosen restaurant which turned out to be absolutely excellent.

Later we made plans to visit nearby Sintra the following day.

Lisbon Lisboa postcard Trms

32 responses to “Portugal, Lisbon and Mountaineering Sightseeing

  1. Sounds like a great visit to Portugal. Will keep your post in mind for when we go.

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  2. I love the trams – they look more welcoming than the sleek modern things they are putting in some of our cities here.

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  3. Sometimes getting lost is half the fun! Who knows what you might find? It’s almost always my fault if we get lost, I have a terrible sense of direction.

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  4. I wouldn’t manage Lisbon with all those hills…and someone said the trams are limited for sightseeing

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  5. A heatwave in Portugal versus a cold snap in Yorkshire – I know which one I’d choose!! Hiking up those hills though in the sunshine would have been very hard. Agree about the graffiti shocked me too, senseless scrawling that defaced those beautiful buildings was my view.

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  6. The Lisbon earthquake had a huge effect on the history of Europe because it started the idea that God might not exist if such things happened. It also produced a tsunami in Penzance if I remember correctly.

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  7. For a moment I thought I was looking at San Francisco with the ‘cable’ cars (trams) and the Golden Gate Bridge. 😀 I think I could fall in love with this locations as well.

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  8. We arrived in Lisbon after a brutal 10 day cycling tour in the Picos de Europa of Spain. After one day of sightseeing I declared that the cycling had just been training for the hiking done on the streets of Lisbon! I totally agree with your description of the hills. However those views can make up for a lot of gasping. Did you find the Beer Museum in the Commercial Square?

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  9. I remember those hills, Andrew! Up and down. And then to get lost. Although that can sometimes be fun. Clever of you not to take the blame, however. 🙂 –Curt

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  10. Were there any tour buses, Andrew? I don’t mind walking, but if it’s too hot when climbing up and down steep hills in a city centre, then it starts to wear thin on me.

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  11. Thanks for sharing, great article 🙂

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  12. Lisbon is a nice place to get to know, but it’s definitely a hard city to go around. It’s filled with mixed vibes and styles. Very diverse lets say. But knowing Lisbon very well, to be careful in not getting lost. It’s all fun until you meet people with less good intentions. Overall, it’s a good place to hangout and keep as memory. Lisbon is Lisbon.

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    • Never spotted any trouble in Lisbon. Loved the city and the hills. Downside for me perhaps was the graffiti. Thanks for stopping by.

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      • It’s much better now. I’ve been there this April and they’ve definitely amped up public protection. More police around. This is due to the increased tourism in the Capital. I agree with the graffiti, it’s not nice. Some cities around Lisbon have been under reconstruction and because of that, there’s a lot of concrete exposed like motorway bridges and so on. In those cases they’ve hired artists to do a professional graffiti rather than being vandalised. It turned up to be very good. Unfortunately you only see this in very local locations.

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      • Local areas that are not common for tourism*

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