Lisbon..first impressions.

Trip Start May 14, 2009
1
9
25
Trip End Jun 12, 2009


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Where I stayed
travellers house

Flag of Portugal  , Estremadura,
Friday, May 22, 2009

We flew the European budget airline Easyjet from Paris's Charles DeGaulle to The Lisbon International Airport gaining an hour while in transit. The flight was on a brand new Airbus and the cost was only about 100 us dollars. After arriving it was obvious we weren't in Paris anymore. We were greeted by bright sun, palm trees and cheaper prices. We hopped on the airport shuttle for 3.50 which took us a few steps from our hostel. It was located on the placa de Commercial and was a pedestrian only shopping district dotted with sidewalk cafes and buildings covered in Lisbon's iconic ceramic tiles. After checking in, we hopped on tram car number 28 and headed up to Lisbon's alfama district which was a maze of streets and shops that worked its way down from the Castle of St. George which was built in the 5th century and offers awesome views to the Tagus River, it is also Lisbon's oldest district being one of the only parts of the city to survive an earthquake in 1755 that leveled the city and killed over 100,000 people. This district was built by the Moors and is now a typical Lisbon neighborhood, there were clothes drying from windows, families playing in the street a bit of old world charm that was unexpected in this city. There were numerous locally owned artisan shops you can pop in and out of, ice cream stands serving gelato that was made that day, it was a great looking into typical Lisbon life and it was by the far the best Lisbon had to offer. Lisbon was a world power during the age of exploration when Columbus and Vasco de Gama set sails from its shores and there are numerous monuments in their honor that remind visitors to Lisbon of that. We visited several of them on day two, we began at the Monestary of Jeronomo which is a UNESCO world heritage site and holds the tomb of de Gama who was the first European sailor to travel directly from Europe to India, the murals in the church depict some of the infamous voyages in Portugese history. Walk down the stairs of the monastery you can see the Monument to discoveries which was built to honor Prince Henry the navigator and sits along the Tagus river. The monument is an enormus rock sculpture of a ship with the faces of sailors comming from it. Both of these mouments are located in Belem which is techinally a suburb of Lisbon just 4 miles outside of the city center. Down the road from both of these monestarys is the pastelais de belem, which is a pastry shop ran by the monks from the monestary and have a secret recipe for egg custard pastries since the 1700's, they didn't quite do it for me. Lisbon's glory days have long passed and many sections of the city are dangerous and somewhat run down, the city is not worth more than a day or two visit. The food is cheap and so is the wine but the notable tourists sites are few and far between and time in Portugal could best be spent in it's beach towns rather than in its capital city.
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