Although I have been living in Portugal for over a year, I have never visited Lisbon. At the weekend I went to collect my mum and dad from Lisbon airport and decided to stay over, and have a day of sightseeing with them, before heading back up North.
We stayed in the seaside resort of Estoril, ( about 20 kms away from the capital) and travelled in by train. I thought I would see more, and it would be less stressful than trying to drive around Lisbon.
Trains run about every half an hour, following the coast line for most of the way. On the way we passed a suburb called Belém. In Portugal’s Golden Age, over 500 years ago, Belém was where the big ships set off on voyages of discovery .It looked a lovely area, with several museums, historical monuments, and parks. It is somewhere I hope to visit in the future.
From the train we saw the Torre de Belém, a small, ornate fortress build in 1515, as well as getting a good view of the 2 km long iron bridge ( inspired by the Golden gate bridge in San Francisco) spanning the River Tagus. We also spotted a big statue of Jesus Christ, on the other side of the river, modelled on the one in Rio de Janeiro. After about 25/ 30 mins we arrived at Cais do Sodre station, and from there we caught the Metro.
There is a lot to see in Lisbon, I think to do it justice it would take around 4 days. As we only had a day, we had a leisurely wander around the Baixa and Avenida area . We caught the Metro to the Praca do Pombal at the top of the Rua de Libertade and then walked down the long tree lined street, packed with expensive designer shops ,to the bottom ( Baixa).
The Baixa area was devastated in an Earthquake in 1755 , and was entirely rebuilt . The Marquis de Pombal rebuild it on a grid system, and named different streets after different traders. We saw Shoemaker street and Gold and Silver street where there was still a jewellers shop .Many of the streets had black and white mosaic stone footpaths, the whole area was nice and clean ,and felt safe to wander around.
We passed through several squares( pracas) with historical monuments, and saw some beautiful buildings such as the Rossia station, and the National Theatre. We saw the Santa Justa elevator; a strange Neo gothic iron structure, which takes you from the Baixo area up to the Bairrio Alta district ,32 metres above.
After a few stops for tea and cakes along the way, we finally found ourselves almost at the sea, on Rua Augusta. This was one of my favourite areas .There were some lovely old shop fronts and lots of pavement cafes and bars, and a lively atmosphere.
After our long walk we had a nice rest in the sunshine, and a glass of wine, before catching the train back to Estoril.
I will definitely re visit Lisbon, as there are several museums and art galleries I would like to visit, as well as spending time in the Belém, and Bairra Alto areas.
Next time I think I will take the train down from Coimbra, and stay in the centre of Lisbon. That way I can see what it has to offer in the evening.