Exploring Lisbon on Foot

Monday was our first full day in Lisbon. We were out the door at our hotel, the very nice Myriad by Sana, at 09:30 after a world class buffet breakfast. I must admit that the buffet breakfast at a great hotel is one of my favorite indulgences, and the Myriad did not disappoint. At what other meal can you sample 20 different things ranging from eggs, sausages, local cheeses, pastries galore, various exotic fruits and nuts, and the way the locals drink coffee? When traveling, Julie and I find that a great breakfast and an early dinner are all we need — two meals per day. More than that, and I have to pack two belts — one to start, and a larger size to end.

We walked from our hotel (the blue dot and triangle inside the green dot at the upper right on the map) due west 1 kilometer to the Moscavide Metro station. Again, being out of town dummies, a friendly helper employed by the Metro immediately came to our rescue to help us buy tickets and add to our education on how to use the Lisbon Metro system. After a lesson the day before, and this lesson, we were good.

We took the Red Line Metro to the S. Sebastian station (the black line with arrow head on the map), which is the center of the business district and got off. From there, we wandered around a bit to get our bearings and then headed south through Parque Eduardo VII (circle around the park on the second map). In the park, we observed a huge scaffolding being erected — 20 stories tall by 50 meters wide with multiple platforms. The guys doing the erecting were pros who belonged to a company called Evil Angels Rigging. I would have paid good money to get one of their very cool t-shirts. Now the good part… They were erecting scaffolding for a long-planned visit by the Pope at the end of next week. We chuckled and wondered if the Pope knows the rigging for his visit is being done by the Evil Angels.

From there, we continued walking SSE along the double-green lines on the map to an area of Lisbon called Rossio — that is the area with hundreds of wonderful sidewalk cafes, shops, tourists, and places to sip a glass of vinho verde or sangria and watch tourists. Vinho verde (green wine), by the way, is local to Portugal and wonderful. It is a young white wine from a region of Portugal. It is light and tart. I highly recommend it. I am more familiar with Sangria as a Spanish drink, but the Portuguese enjoy it too. Sangria is fruit juice, red wine, fruit (apples, oranges, lime), and ice. Sangria is a great, low alcohol, thirst quenching drink for a hot afternoon.

We walked up and down every street in Rossio, then climbed the rather steep 1000 or so steps to the top of Barrio Alto. The steps effectively screen out 95% of tourists. At the top, down a little side street, we found an early dinner. Julie had grilled sardines (four, the size of rainbow trout and a bunch of vegetables and a big salad for 15 Euro), and I had more grilled octopus covered in grilled peppers and potatoes than I could eat for the same price. The plate of tomatoes and olives that came with my dinner is already gone.

One of the questions everyone always wants to know about travel outside the U.S. is, can you drink the water? We had the same question, and the guide books were vague. On our walk, we stumbled upon a booth set up outside the Water Department. The booth was staffed by a couple young people handing out cups of water — tap water — infused with lemons and rosemary. Their entire purpose was to communicate to the people of Lisbon that the tap water is not just okay to drink, it is great water and completely safe. So, there you have it. We enjoyed multiple cups of lemon/rosemary water, it was great, and we have suffered no ill effects.

After dinner, we decided to walk back to our hotel. The first map shows our path as the dotted red line. We climbed over several of the very steep hills on which Lisbon is built to get to the Bay of Straw, which is the mouth of the Targus River as it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. This photo shows how steep this hills are — too steep to climb without steps. By the end of the day, we had covered 17 miles on foot, climbing and descending a bunch of very steep hills. Shower and bed.