Getting To Know Lisbon

The red tile roofs of Lisbon

Brett and I used to talk about possibly moving to Lisbon for a while once we got all the girls launched out of the nest. After a few days here though we realize that as much as we like Lisbon we would have never been able to make it because:

  1. There are way too many cobblestones! They are everywhere, and there is no getting around them. Add in all the hills and steps and my bursitis and my knee are not happy.
  2. I don’t think we could ever understand or speak Portuguese even if we studied it every day for the rest of our lives. All we can say or understand right now is obigado/obrigada (thank you).

Still, we are having a wonderful time so far in this friendly, beautiful city in spite of us still suffering from colds, which have now settled into our chests (along with sore throats).

No cars are allowed on the narrow street we’re staying on other than pre-arranged taxis.

We awoke on Thursday morning to pouring rain and heavy winds which made it impossible to get out of the apartment other than for the most basic needs. We did manage to walk to a nearby supermarket although not without our umbrellas being blown inside out more than a few times, and both of us getting soaked. We spent the rest of the day doing laundry and getting some planning done inside our cozy apartment while the storm raged outside.

Praça de Comércio – the plaza was created on the site of a former palace which was destroyed in 1755 by a massive earthquake, followed by a tsunami and fire.
Ponte 25 de Abril crosses the Tagus River at its narrowest point. The Tagus is wide and deep enough that an aircraft carrier can sail up to Lisbon.
One of many beautiful tile-clad buildings seen throughout the city.
A huge piece of sponge cake for Brett, two florentines for me, and two Americanos set us back a whopping $4.75.

On Friday morning though there were blue skies and warmer temperatures, so we got up and out to explore around our neighborhood (Bairro Alto). We ended up walking all the way down to the Praça de Comércio to get a closer look at the mighty Tagus River, and on the way home we stopped in a local bakery for some delicious coffee and pastries. I have to say that Portuguese pastries are amazing! And, affordable, too.

Squares, streets, buildings, and shops are all decorated for Christmas.

Lisbon is decked out for Christmas from head to toe. Decorations are up everywhere, Christmas music can often be heard, and shop windows are filled with seasonal displays. They really get into it here!

I spotted the worst of both worlds for me on our way to the castle: steep cobblestone steps. Thank goodness there were elevators to bring us up the hill!
This tram is an ‘elevador’ – rather than take people around the city it only brings riders up to the top of the hill from the bottom or takes them back down.

Yesterday morning’s weather looked like a repeat of Friday’s, with blue skies, so we walked over to visit Castelo de Sao Jorge and then take a ride around Lisbon on the #28 tram. We took two seven-story elevators up to get to the base of the castle. We learned there are all sorts of ‘secret’ elevators around Lisbon as well as trams that do nothing but bring people up from the bottoms to the tops of hills or back down, but many people still do it the old-fashioned way, walking up and down the hills.

The bridge crossing the moat that surrounds Castelo de Sao Jorge.
One of the many beautiful views of Lisbon from the top of the castle.
A former well inside the castle.

The castle was extremely beautiful as well as interesting, and provided many, many beautiful views of the city. The castle itself reminded us of the ones seen in picture books, with its moat and a bridge crossing it, many battlements, and easily discernible living spaces inside the castle walls.

The #28 Tram arrives to pick us up. Parts of the ride, as the tram travels through narrow, winding streets, seem almost Disneyesque.
One of many spectacular tile-clad buildings spotted out the window of the tram.

Afterwards we finished at the castle we hiked down to catch the #28 tram at the Martim Moniz stop which is one end of its route. Brett almost didn’t make it on the tram with me thanks to some incredibly pushy young tourists who came from the back of the line to the front and shoved him out of the way. We rode the tram for quite a while, admiring the views and the many gorgeous tiled buildings and murals. Our original plan was to ride all the way to the other end of the line and then back, but we ended up getting off in our neighborhood and walking home after deciding we did not want to deal with another hoard of tourists getting back on at the other end. We were also feeling a bit worn out, and the temperature was dropping more than expected making us feel chilled (and we had also both started coughing again).

Pastel de Nata, Portugal’s signature pastry. I sadly took the smaller one on the left.

In Florence we ate gelato every day; here in Lisbon we plan to eat a Pastel de Nata (egg custard tart) every day. Our host was right, there are both good ones and better ones, but even the merely good are delicious!

We’re taking today and tomorrow off from any major sightseeing – neither of us feel very well and we are afraid of getting sicker before our big travel back to the U.S. begins on Thursday. There are things we can see and do close by in the neighborhood, there’s always laundry to take care of, but mostly we’re going to rest, relax and hydrate and see if we can get ourselves feeling better than we do now (which is pretty miserable).


8 thoughts on “Getting To Know Lisbon

  1. Glad you’re enjoying Lisbon, and I do hope you both feel better soon. It is cold and wet in Portland, so enjoy that sunshine while you can! I am so enjoying reading along on your “great adventure” I started reading your blog at least a couple years before you moved from Portland so feel like I “know” you and really enjoy your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for continuing along with us! Not happy to hear about the cold and wet, but we really didn’t expect otherwise.

      We’re glad we stayed “home” today – we’re both feeling pretty miserable. Hopefully we’ll feel better tomorrow so we can get out for a little while.


  2. Ah, I’m so sorry to hear you’re both still fighting those bugs. 😦 The city looks beautiful…and I love the tile-clad buildings! Glad you’re resting up a bit, and those pastries look very comforting. Ha! Here’s hoping you both feel a lot better before your travel back to the US.


    1. I am so glad we decided to stay in today – both of us are miserable with sore throats and stuffy lungs. At least the coughing has stopped for the most part. Both of us feel very low-energy too. I’ve been reading and doing laundry, and Brett has been taking care of paperwork for next year. We have a short outing planned for tomorrow, and then hopefully we’ll feel well enough on Tuesday to go out to Sintra. The city is wonderful – all except for those darn cobblestones. They are worse than what we experienced in Rome and Florence!


  3. So sorry that you are still feeling sick. What kind of insurance coverage you have while you are traveling? Wouldn’t it be possible to walk into a local hospital or a clinic to get a prescription?


    1. I have an annoying sore throat right now, and even back in the U.S. there was little I could do for it other than to suck on lozenges (which I dislike) and wait it out. We took the day off today and rested, and only have one short outing planned for tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll be feeling better after that. I’ve been drinking herbal tea and that helps. It’s just the season for colds right now with all the changes in the weather (and we’re unaccustomed to cold weather).


  4. Grandmama always said whiskey, honey and peppermint for a cold. I don’t know the proportions but someone else might. Get well soon.


    1. It’s too bad we’re not still in Italy – we’ve heard that a couple of shots of grappa will knock a cold right out!


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