Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lisbon Tour

We took to the streets of Lisbon yesterday to use our one free day to see the sights.  Instead of paying for a open air bus that takes conspicuous tourists decked out in fishing vests with binoculars (no exaggeration), we navigated trains, buses and street cars to reach our destinations.  We also did some serious walking, as every now and then our stop would pass by before we realized that the train we were on was indifferent to our sightseeing plans.  Although adventurous and exhausting, in my opinion this was the best way to see the city.  When you are forced to ask directions in a jumbled combination of Spanish, Portuguese and English, the extra effort makes the reward that much greater.  Getting home (to the hotel), proved to be the hardest part as the streets wind up and down the hilly neighborhood of Barrio Alto.  Going to show that what is supposedly most familiar can be completely unrecognizable in the tangled twilight.  Mosterio dos Jeronimos, the Torre de Belem, Padrao dos Descobrimentos, Castelo de Sao Jorge, Praca do Comercio, Convento do Carmo and other incredible sights were among our improvised tour.  We even hopped on the infamous Tram 28 to make the jostling, electrified journey on a 1920's wooden streetcar that returned us to Barrio Alto.  Lisbon is unlike any European capital I have visited.  It has regal palaces and cathedrals deposited among cramped neighborhoods lined with uneven cobble stone streets.  Yet everything has a sense of sea side decay, exuding decadence and delight to both inhabitants and passers by.