Friday, June 22, 2018

Rail Trip Portugal - 4th Whistle Stop: LISBON

So I got back to Lisbon - meanwhile, I'm an expert on trains and train stations in Portugal, I definitely know the drill.

Iconic view of river Tejo.

Arrival in Lisbon

What I still didn't really get - being such a flatlander - is that Portuguese cities are very hilly. That makes them beautiful and grants their visitors with stunning views, but for the arriving passenger, it's quite a challenge.

Arriving at  Santa Apolónia station, I checked google maps for the way to my accommodation and got the information it was a bit over a kilometer, even not a mile. What the app withheld was that it was a bit over a kilometer uphill - partly on steep cobblestone alleys, partly on stairs; even not a mile uphill on alleys and stairs becomes pretty far, especially if you are dragging a suitcase on far too small wheels behind.

If you want to drop in - it's the first door on the left...number 11.
So I was a heavily sweating mess as I arrived at the apartment and knocked at the neighbor's door for the key.

Yes, correct, I stay at an apartment. Nope, not the Airbnb-kind. It's a small room on cobblestone alley level - I technically live on the street - equipped with most things a visitor might need: A bed - IKEA, foldable, a table and three chairs - not IKEA, but foldable. A kitchenette, consisting of two hot plates, a microwave, a sink and all the necessary accessories. There is even a washing machine, which is irritating since there is no closet. I wonder why they rather put a washing machine in such a small room than a closet, especially since there is hardly space to hang your freshly washed laundry; maybe washing machines were on sale.

There is no TV. I don't need a TV, but since there is no internet access, either, people without a good old-fashioned book might get pretty bored. Or they'll entertain each other fighting. If I was here with another person, we would probably fight - it's a small room with not much to do, after all.

What's incredible is the apartment's location: In a small alley within the castle wall!

Leaving my hood through the great wall.

Tourists are passing right in front of my cobblestone alley level door - and since I leave the door window open for fresh air - there is neither an aircon nor a fan - they peep in my room - I don't blame them, that's something you do automatically - and probably think I'm a Portuguese bohemian. I bet some of them will be pretty jealous because of my million dollar location - guys, I'm staying right next to the castle! Within the castle walls! Do I feel like a queen? Nope, not on twenty square meters (equals 65 square feet). Rather like the queen's washing woman living close by to be available at any time; I have a washing machine, after all.

Did I like staying at the posh, comfortable places in Porto and Figueira da Foz? Yes. Do I like staying at a rather run-down one-room apartment at the Castelo, doing my own grocery shopping feeling like a true born Portuguese? YES!

Showing you around in Lisbon

It's like they say: Home is where the heart is. And I know that Lisbon occupies a big piece of my heart now. Actually, it's definitely my second favorite city in Europe (the all-time favorite is Venice, and I'm not so fond of cities outside of Europe, I must say).

Since according to this charming saying this is sort of my home now, let me show you around a bit so that you'll understand why it took Lisbon less than 24 hours to make it to my all-time favorite list of cities.

We'll start right at my doorstep - I cannot stretch this point enough: within the castle walls!

Do you blame me for instantly falling in love with this place?!

As we turn left, we get to the Largo do São Vicente from where we have the first grand view of river Tejo.

As we turn left, the tram turns right - right in front of São Vicente.

The contra-selfie culture: Asian tourist painting Lisbon's skyline.

We continue along the tram rails of legendary #28 and take another peek from the Miradouro Santa Lucia.

Santa Lucia: Pretty no matter where you look.

As we are passing, the tram is passing, too.
Passing the Sé de Lisboa, Lisbon's cathedral, we get to the Arco Monumental.

Make an investment of 2,50 €uro and you won't regret it - I find the monument's terrace grants Lisbon's best views.

The arch is beautiful from underneath..... well as from the top.

I have guests from out of town - may we look over your shoulder at the Praça do Comércio?!

Hey, they want to see the river Tejo - you might take your big white foot out off the picture!?

Wanna get away from the big tourist crowds for a moment? Take the Metro, Lisbon's subway, at Baixo-Chiado and go up to Praça Marques de Pombal from where it is a ten minutes walk to one of Lisbon's beautiful curiosities, the Jardim das Amoreiras, a fine park where Mulberry trees for the local silk production where planted.

Calm like an outdoor library: Reading the newspaper at the Jardim das Amoreiras.

Let's have lunch at a really original, bohemian place, the Padaria do Povo.

Home of Lisbon's alternative bohemian scene: The Padaria do Povo

The Jardim da Estrela - my favorite park in Lisbon - is just a five minutes walk away and as you cross the Praca da Estrela, you can visit another venerable place of worship, the Basilica da Estrela.

I love these little stands at the parks where people enjoy their lunch break - like here at Jardim da Estrela.

I don't mind when beautiful trees obstruct my view of the basilica.

Enough walking, here we finally hop on the legendary tram #28; so legendary that locals hardly ever use it since it's always packed with tourists - and the highest number of pickpockets.

Number 28 - always packed. They have exactly 20 seats - the rest depends on the passangers' size.

Anyway, it's cute and fun and not exclusively touristy - and since at the last stop, everybody has to get off - to possibly get on again about five steps further and five minutes later, they mix things up a little and everybody has a new chance getting a good seat.

For some people, Prazeres is the last stop, indeed. You just have to get off here....only to get back on a couple of minutes later.

But let's take the opportunity for a quick stroll through the Cemitério dos Prazeres - the cemetery of pleasures; please don't ask me who came up with this name and why.

I leave you here - not forever, of course. But when you're done taking pictures of the artistic graves, you'll find your way back downtown.

It get's really tight - make sure to keep your head and hands inside the cart.
Just hop on the #28 where you had to get off and it will take you all the way back - along most of the standard attractions Lisbon has to offer.

One of the places you can get off on your way back from Prazeres.

Did you miss this train? Here you can read what happened at the former whistle stops:

2nd Whistle Stop: FIGUEIRA da FOZ

3rd Whistle Stop: COIMBRA

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during my former trips like e. g. Brazil, while travelling, I'll be posting little stories and reflections on my stay. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy some special moments with me.

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  1. I hear you on the cobbled streets. I got to Trinidad, Cuba late at night and had to drag a rolling suitcase for 15 minutes down a cobbled street. Lisbon is a beautiful city though and worth the effort.

    1. Yes, one already does feel like an idiot and then the stupid suitcase makes so much noise that everybody is automatically looking at you...nice entrance ;-)

  2. Lisbon looks delightful! I bet dragging your suitcase uphill was a bit of a challenge though haha. Reminded me of the time I had to carry my giant suitcase up 6 flights of stairs in Rome because there was no elevator where I was staying.

    1. Yes, Rome is also a good place for carrying and dragging. And Paris - especially the metro.

  3. It sounds like the location of your apartment makes up for it's small and simple nature, within the castle walls is amazing! Lovely to "walk around" Lisbon with you, am hoping to visit in next few months.

  4. Lisbon is one of my favorite European cities! Those red rooftops bring back lots of memories of a wonderful trip 6 years ago. Definitely time for me to go back. I also got caught having to unexpectedly walk through the city with my suitcase - I didn't realize my hotel was on a street that didn't accept cars! So my taxi had to drop me off a few streets away. Your apartment sounds amazing (despite the lack of closet!) cause, how cool is it that you're living in a castle!!

  5. I spent my 40th birthday in Lisbon and absolutely loved it. Sounds like you had a interesting apartment butcsounds lijr it was in a great location.

  6. I understand the problem with hilly cities. I remember well the hike up the hill in Putian, China with our 30 kg suitcases (we were to live there for a year). But the area where the apartment was looks amazing. I also really like staying in authentic places and your photos are great. We will definitely need to visit Lisbon soon!

  7. volver a que me mande fotos de españa jose saiz

  8. Great tips here! And I definitely hear you on those hills. I remember the first time I arrived in Lisboa without knowing how steep the streets were and climbing up, up, up to my guesthouse... in the rain! Still fell in love with the city though :)

  9. I adore Lisbon! Such a charming city, and one I truly loved much more than I anticipated! The hills certainly got my heart racing and I'm so incompetent with dealing with cobblestones... frequently take a few tumbles!

  10. Wow, that really is the perfect apartment location! I loved the neighborhood near the castle. Lisbon is such a special city. The hills can be tough but the views are amazing!

  11. Eeee!! I am headed to Lisbon in October, and I can't wait. You made it look so fun and beautiful. I'm even more excited!

  12. I am ridiculously jealous right now! Portugal is in in my top 10 in my bucket list. I really want to go and visit some of their sanctuaries etc...

  13. Annemarie LeBlancJuly 11, 2018 at 2:32 AM

    Looking at your photos filled me with wanderlust for Portugal. Lisbon is a charming place, lots of beautiful scenery and walking around just looking at the sculptures is enough to fill my day!

  14. I would love to to visit Portugal one day. The photos here look great. Heard amazing things about the country.

  15. Portugal is certainly in my bucket-list. Great photos, hill cities can give great photographic opportunities, right?

  16. Lisbon is really pretty! So many beautiful sculptures everywhere. Even the cemeteries have them. Wow. I will add Lisbon to my bucket list. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos.


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