On Friday 10th November 2007 we arrived at the municipal site in Lisbon. Fortunately Mrs TomTom knew where it was and guided us in through the heavy traffic and confusing streets. This is a very big site and had everything we needed including washing machines, plenty of hot water in the showers and washbasins – and even hot wather for washing dishes. A treat indeed. The site is looking a bit tired in places but is very convenient for Lisbon as the bus stops outside the campsite and it has a pool tennis courts restaurant and shops.
On Saturday we got the number 714 bus to Praca Figueria, and then wandered the Baixa area which was all rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. We took a quick detour up the Santa Justa Elevador and then had lunch at Nood – the local equivalent of Wagamama. Made a nice change from salt cod.
Some exceptionally nice buildings and squares, and pedestrianised streets which were good for going-nowhere-in-particular strolling. We also saw a wonderful street musician who had a Chihuahua sitting on a small box with a little green plastic bucket held in it’s mouth. I wanted to give him some money but Sheila had already given a Euro to an African women singing with a xylophone player.
Sheila is suffering very badly from mosquito bites picked up in Nazaré – she has more than 30 of the damn things, mainly on ankles and legs . They itch like mad, despite copious applications of cream, and the only relief comes from freezer blocks. Sheila even went to bed with a freezer block in a plastic bag. And what makes it even worse is that Gilroy didn’t get one bite – clearly not as tasty a morsel as Sheila.
Lisbon's streets has lots of street entertainment of one sort or another, below is a busker with his little dog which is holding in his mouth a container for donations. Below that are two photos of Belem.
Belem is part of Lisbon and was a short bus ride from our campsite and apparently this is where Vasco de Gama set off for India.
It is a lovely area with gardens, this tower, the Monastero de Jeronimos an old fort and the huge Padrao de Descobrimentos ( see below) which commemorates Portugese explorers. We had a splendid day there which ended with an aeroplane aerobatic display which was quite scary because the plane came so close and the aerobatics quite daring. There had been a regatta of some sort on the river and the plane was there to finish off that event rather than our tour of Belem.
There is actually a place for motorhomes to park in Belem, right beside the Sailing Club, which must be one of the best free camping spots ever.
We spent one day at the Parque das Nacões (the old Expo98 site), mainly at the aquarium (bus and underground trip to get there) . Very impressive, with a huge central tank and some very big fish, plus side tanks for more specialised things and some open sites with otters (very sweet), penguins in a rocky pool with some bloody great bits of ice, a razorbill/puffin/guillemot pool, and a tropical garden with turacos.
A late lunch at an Italian place – there are a million places to eat in the Parque – where Gilroy had a steak and fried potatoes and Sheila almost managed to eat a huge plate of pasta with pesto sauce.
We went in on the usual 714 and then picked up three-day transport passes to complete the trip on the metro. We came back on the 750 bus which seemed to me to be driven at very high speed. I was sitting with my back to the direction so perhaps it seemed worse than it was.
The parque itself now houses a massive shopping centre an exhibition centre smart offices and apartment blocks - it is very impressive as you can see from the photo. It reminded us a bit of Dubai, probably because of the imaginative architecture.
One day we did the Alfama District of Lisbon – one of the oldest bits because it wasn’t all destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. Lots of very narrow streets, lots of steps, lots of very shagged-out buildings (some still without running water according to the book, and we saw a couple of public wash-houses) and plenty of small restaurants (we chose one at random where we both had grilled dorada). At one place we saw the cook grilling the sardines on a tiny barbecue housed under the arch over the street. It has got to be a very small restaurant that hasn’t even got a kitchen. Some dodgy looking fellers as well, they looked and acted as if they were the local drunks but we never saw them drinking anything so perhaps it was an open-air AA meeting.
We spent the afternoon at the Castle, which provides excellent views over Lisbon, and has good bogs. This is always important to Gilroy who doesn’t like to be more than 15 minutes away from the nearest lav.
Another day we went back to Belem to the Maritime Museum, which is housed in part of the Mosterio dos Jerónimos. A lot of excellent model ships in there, plus maps, guns, a section on the King’s and Queen’s rooms on the old royal yacht, and a big room full of royal barges and a couple of ‘planes (one of which was the first to cross the south Atlantic in 1922). We spent a couple of very engrossing hours in there, and would have been longer If Sheila hadn’t nudged me along. We then walked along the waterfront to the April 25th Bridge (which commemorates the 1974 revolution) which was fine until we tried to get back on to the road. The railway is in the way and the only bridge we found did not allow foot traffic. We had to walk a fair bit further along roads through dockyard buildings, offices etc. before we eventually found a footbridge to cross the railway.
We then got a bus into the centre and took the 12E tram round the castle route. This is one of the old style – 1930’s? – trams and it was amazing to see it going along incredibly narrow streets, just missing the buildings, and even closer to people who were walking along them. We hopped off at one of the mirador sites (we remembered it from our previous visit) for some gawking and coffee and then headed back to Praça de Figuera. Some excitement here – a feller tried to get his hand into Sheila’s bag as she was getting on the bus. The bag was zipped shut and Sheila felt the pull on the bag, so she shouted at the feller and he walked off. All over so quick that we didn’t really think about chasing the little scrote or shouting for the polis. But it does prove that all of the signs on the buses and trams warning you about pickpockets are soundly based. Later in recounting this tale to Hans and Geere (whom we first met in Nazaré), Hans said that he actually saw someone having his pocket picked but he was on the bus and could do nothing – it is obviously everyday stuff in Lisbon.