On our way to South Africa, we spent three days in Lisbon. In spite of a forecast of rain, we had three lovely sunny days there. One of the things that stood out was the use of tile in decorating the architecture, both inside and out. Unfortunately we have no really good photos of that.
This is the Praça do Comércio (Commerial Square) which is situated on the waterfront and is surrounded by government ministery buildings.
Prior to 1755, Lisbon was the normal jumble of medieval streets, but in that year a catastrophic earthquake occurred. The center was rebuilt using a simple plan of straight crossing streets.
This is a view down Rua Augusta, the centermost of these streets, towards the Praça do Comércio. We never did find out what these venders were roasting, although they looked like chestnuts. There is an elevator in this area, Elevador de Santa Justa, which is suppose to provide a spectacular view of the center. We did not take this opportunity, but this is what the view is supposed to look like.
A view of Lisbon at sunset from Castelo de Sào Jorge, a castle established in the fifth century that sits high above the city. In the distance you can see the 25 April bridge (according to Augusto: "the date of our revolution in 1974 that gave us democracy again") over the Rio Tejo that is a prominent visual indication of Lisbon. We road across it a couple of times for the spectacular view it provided.
On the way to the castle, we stumbled on the ruins of a Roman bath and several churches, including the Sé Patriarcal.
Getting to the castle involved a climb through Alfama, Lisbon's oldest and most historically interesting districts, a maze of alleys, lanes and steep stairways. Here are a couple of shots taken in the area.
This lady (monument to Sto Antonio) peeked in our window at the Holiday Inn arranged for us by one of those on our trip list. (Thanks, Augusto!)
We took a Gray Line Tour of Lisbon and one of the highlights was a visit to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos pictured above. (The panorama mode was not set for this series and the color is truer at the right end.) This building not only houses the church, monastery and cloisters, but also part of the Maritime Museum (near end) which we came back to visit on the following day.
These are shots inside the Jerónimos Cloisters. The stonework was magnificent throughout the Monastery buildings.
This relief on the tomb of Vasco DaGama in the Jerónimos Monastery church is just one example.
Here's Walt being Walt outside the Maritime Museum. On the right is the Tower of Belém which we toured. It was intended to be used as a fortress, but changing river shoreline prevented that.
Right next to the Tower of Belém is the Padrao dos Descobrimentos, a monument to the discoveries made by Portuguese Explorers.
Here's Walt at the airport, getting ready to leave for South Africa!
We enjoyed our brief visit to Lisbon, except for two things:
1. We had trouble with taxis both from and to the airport. On the way into Lisbon, the driver charged us double the going rate and on the way back, it took 4 tries before we found a taxi that would handle our luggage. (There is an airport bus, but it stopped several blocks from our hotel.)
2. We had to pay $1500 in excess baggage charges! Our flight to Europe allowed us each to have 60 kilos and up to two checked bags; we had been careful to follow these restrictions and had no idea that there was a difference between airlines. We were shocked to learn that TAP (Air Portugal) allowed only 20 kilos per person, but no limit on bags. It was also interesting to find that had we come directly from the US, we would NOT have been charged and to learn AFTER our luggage had been checked and it was too late, that we could have shipped air freight for 1/3 to 1/2 the price. Letters of complaint were useless, even though we felt the check in agent had been remiss in not informing us of the air freight possibilities. It was quite an expensive lesson! This won't happen to us again on the next legs of our trip! Please remember our problems if you are doing this kind of trip and learn from our mistake!
Go on to Part II - South Africa
Nan Schaller's and Walt Bankes' Sabbatical Page