We arrived in Lisbon early afternoon, it was hot, 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 excellent studio apartment, cranked up the air-conditioning 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 city. 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. 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 apartment.
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.
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 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.
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.