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Travel Writer:  WZ Julie

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Lisbon
It was lovely arriving in Lisbon, the flyover the city is beautiful.

It was our first experience booking an Uber in Europe.

After the first two Uber drivers seemed to be circling the airport and we struggled to find them, we realized the pickup wasn’t where we thought. Third time was the charm and we got a very informative and talkative driver.

Our AirBNB was in Graca, a lovely neighborhood in the center of Lisbon, but a bit less touristy.

We loved being able to walk up the street to the grocery stores and coffee shops.

I happened on to the pastries Lisbon is famous for on my first neighborhood excursion and didn’t really know what I was ordering. They are made with a delicious custard that tastes a bit like crème brûlée.

No need to rent a car. The streets are narrow, parking is at a premium and the drivers are aggressive, but incredibly polite with pedestrians. We even noted that the electric tram  stopped for pedestrians. Lisbon is a great walking city, the center is very compact. Public transportation options are convenient and inexpensive. In our few days there we rode the famous tram #28 for a great view of the center of the city. We also rode the metro subway, buses, ferry and the regional train to Sintra. The one-day pass is good for all the city options except the ferry and regional train.

Some of our favorite excursions were to Castelo de Sao Jorge, an 11th century, hilltop Moorish castle, with great views of the city, and exploring the Castle neighborhood, riding the #28 tram thought the heart of Lisbon, the Monument to the Discoveries with a marble map of the Portuguese exploration in the 1500s and great views of the Belem district including the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery.

We also wandered the flea market on Campo do Sanda Clara in the Alfama district (Tuesdays and Saturdays). There are so many vantage points for great views of the city.

Our AirBNB was across the street from a very long, steep stairway. When we finally tackled it, it turned out it led to the Miradouro da Graca, a churchyard, with the best panoramic views of the city.

For modern art the Museu Colecao Berardo, in Belem has an extensive collection. We happened to arrive there on National Museum Day, and a free entrance day. Saturdays are also free, with normal adult admission 5 Euros.

We took the ferry across the river to Chalcias to visit the Cristo Rei, modeled after the statue in Rio De Janerio. After the ferry, you catch a bus to the statue. We were late in the day and just missed a bus, so we took a taxi ride. For 4 people, it was the same price as the bus. The view of Lisbon from across the river is a big part of the appeal, but the day we were there it was hazy. Not the view we were hoping for.

There are so many restaurants in Lisbon. Our tactics for finding a good one, were to go a block or two off the main tourist areas and stay away from any restaurants with pictures of the food. Cafés typically close from 3-7 or so. We found some of the sites less busy over lunch time, so we would visit museums, castles, etc. and then pick up bread, cheese and wine and head back to our cozy apartment for a little lunch break before heading out again. We were really pleased with our choices for dinner.

We had a late dinner at a very small restaurant in our neighborhood that served Asian fusion style noodle dishes and hamburgers. Delicious. Beer and wine is inexpensive and available everywhere.

We ate at the Ribeira Market (Mercado da Ribeira) located between the train station of Cais do Sodré and the riverside. It has a large number of indoor street vendor type food. Everything we tried was delicious.
We met some travelers who were couch surfing with friends, and we even did a little dancing to live music. It was a great place to go on a chilly evening.

Organi Chiado, Calcada Nova de Sao Francisco.2 in the heart of the Chiado area is a delightful restaurant with several tables outside on the landing of a staircase close to the Santa Justa Elevator. The menu was limited the night we were there due to an issue with the oven, but both entrees we sampled, a tuna dish and a curried vegetable dish were delicious.

The Barcelos Rooster image is everywhere in Portugal. It is based on a Portuguese legend and symbolizes luck and happiness and is considered to be the unofficial symbol of Portugal. It is found in many ceramic forms and embroidered on towels and aprons. The Rooster wine stoppers and hand towels are easy to pack, inexpensive souvenir ideas.

Thoughts on leaving Lisbon, when can I visit again…