To Lisbon, So Many Surprises Await You!
Portugal was never on the travel list had I not met great people on my Japan trip in 2010. So taking up the invite to visit the country, I used the long weekend to pop in Portugal and see what the country had to offer.
Taking its cues from Europe’s great capitals, getting lost in Lisbon’s Alfama district is never boring. Hiding behind the winding cobblestone streets is a magnificent facade of apartments in pastel-washed colours, romantic balconies decorated by blue-hued tiles (called azulejos), and wafts of their custard-sweet pastries. The streets alone are a reason to visit this amazing capital.
Be warned though, Lisbon is the city of 7 hills, and trekking up these streets can get steep and tiring. There are funiculars around the area (reminiscent of the tram heading to Victoria Peak in Hong Kong); alternatively, you can take the trams that follow these winding streets and start your journey walking down.
Start with Castelo do Sao Jorge, a medieval fortress on top of the hills, to take hold of your bearings – you can see the Praca do Comercio below and the adjacent riverside walk of the Rio Tejo. There are plenty of churches scattered along the walk, I really don’t remember all of them – but watch out for the distinct Manueline architecture of the monuments, statues, and plazas around (more on this later).
There are two bridges connect the two flanks of the Rio Tejo – each having their own merits. Vasco do Gama bridge, on the eastern part of town, is the longest bridge in Europe, while the 19 de Abril bridge, with its red colour is designed by the same guy who did San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
The city is not filled with the world’s most familiar landmarks, but make no mistake – the experience of walking around Lisbon does not need blockbuster sights to put it on your must travel lists.