From September 2018 to End of March 2019, I worked flat out. With the start of the new financial year and a years holiday allowance to be had, I took a much needed break. A week long city trip to Lisbon, Portugal. 89th Country and Territory Visited.
I flew Air Portugal from Heathrow to Lisbon and stayed at the Ibis Hotel Saldanha. Yes it was extravagant in the extreme but after years of roughing it, I just wanted to indulge a little.
Although the intention of this blog was to feature only new stories from the new journey, I couldn't resist to include the week in Lisbon. It would act as a test run. New theme, tweaked no end with new ideas and adapting Weebly's elements to get the look I was after.
So, A Week In Lisbon, a look back at that week.
Cascais, Cabo da Roca and Sintra
Cascais, cute little fishing town making more of an income from tourism than fishing. Truth is that, it's pretty boring. But I checked it out never the less before taking bus #403 to Cabo da Roca. The Viva-Viagem card with the 'zapping' top up option is not, I repeat NOT valid on this bus. The fare when bought from the driver is 3.40€ (the fare from Cabo da Roca to Sintra is 4.30€). The #403 leaves every half an hour at 10 and 40 minutes past. The #403 continues on to Sintra, also at 10 and 40 minutes past each hour. Journey time is 30-35 minutes each section.
Cabo da Roca, the real highlight of this day out and maybe the sole reason for a trip to Lisbon in the first place. At 38 47 North and 9 30 West, it's the western most point of the European land mass.
This 'extremity' can be added to my list:
South West + North East points of Britain, South Western most point of Europe, South East point of South East Asia, Southern most point of South Korea, Taiwan and India, Northern most point of Sri Lanka.
It was as windy as hell. Had a hard enough time standing up, let alone balancing the tripod for a self timer. Sure there were enough people around to ask.
I had bought the previous evening a 3l box of red and filled up my empty coke bottle with it. Hidden from the wind, marginally, I had a liquid lunch.
Sintra had more going for it than Cascais but was over come with despondency so I made no effort. Just ate an over priced baguette and had another coffee.
It was built in the early 16th century, commissioned by King John II, on the banks of the Tagus.
From Cais de Sodré I rode bus #15E to Belém and the old Tram 18 back. The tower, just in case you can't find it, it's located here on Google Maps.
Great place for sunset.
There are 6 Tram routes in Lisbon: 12E, 15E, 18E, 24E, 25E and 28E. The E stands for Eléctrico, the Portuguese word for tram.
Tram 12E runs in a loop starting and finishing in Martim Moniz
Tram 15E runs from Praça da Figueira to Algés. You can take the 15E to get to Belém. They mostly run modern trams along this route and some times even buses, but the 18E also goes there, despite what other blogs and Google Maps say.
Tram 18E runs from Cais de Sodré to Belém, I don't know if they changed to routing or there were errors on all websites but as of 2019, the 18E is running to and from Belém.
Tram 24E is now running again. Originally introduced in 1905, Tram 24 was withdrawn from service in 1995. In April 2018 the service was reintroduced and is currently running from Campolide to Praça Luís de Camões.
Tram 25E runs from Praça Figueira to Campo Ourique
Tram 28E is regarded as the classic and romantic tram of Lisbon as it runs from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique thru the heart of the historical districts of Graça, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela. It gets very busy, best start your journey in Campo Ourique.
You can use your viva viagem card on all the tram routes in Lisbon.
All the Eléctricos are targeted by pickpockets and bag snatchers as they get very over crowded so don't stand near the doors and keep your wits about you. You have been warned!
The Lisbon Hills Tram Car Tours is a hop on hop off tram. It starts and finishes at Praça do Comércio with stops at Martim Moniz, Gracia, Portas do Sol, Sé, Conceição, Camões, Estrela. The image above is linked to their website.
Ascenors de Lisboa
The streets of Lisbon are steep narrow, hence the need for the street cars or Eléctricos. Single unit trams that can handle the 1in 10 gradient. But there are, in places, a few little streets with gradients of 1 in 4. This is where the Ascensors or funiculars come in. There are 3 of them. 51E, 52E and 53E better known by their full names: Ascensor da Glória, Ascensor do Lavra and Ascensor da Bica respectively.
The Ascensor da Lavre is the oldest. Inaugurated in 1884 it used a water counterweight system and later steam, it was electrified in 1915. In 2002 was made a national monument which is a bit of a joke as all 6 trams that work these 3 hills are covered in graffiti as are the houses they climb between.
I am reminded once again that a 1 week vacation from a job that puts good money back in the bank is Oh So Very different from being on a long haul overland journey.
When I'm travelling long haul, the reasons for spending a few nights in one place are to recover from the arduous occupation of the travels. I travel to be moving and sometimes I will factor in a 'highlight' that will make sense to non travellers as to why I stopped there.
Had Lisbon been an overnight stop along the way, I would have mooched around a bit and then made a bee line for Cabo da Roca. And what else? I would have done some admin: Laundry and notes for the next few places. Lisbon is not a place where a stop of a few nights turns into 2 weeks. It's not that sort of place. These places in previous jaunts have been Darjeeling, Pushkar, Tbilisi, Tanah Rata, Yerevan, Lake Toba, Shangri La, Kota Kinabalu and Vientianne.
Getting around Lisbon by public transport is very easy with the 'viva viagem' card.
Best place to get the card is at the metro station on arrival at the airport. The card costs 50 cents. It's valid for a year.
I selected the 'zapping' option. Which means you gotta top it up.
You can top it up by 3, 5, 10 or 20€ but a little twist with that you gotta put in the 50 cents too, so if you are loading your card with 15€, you put it 15.50€.
And when using the Viva Viagem card, the rides will cost you:
Bus and Tram: €1.35, Metro: €1.33, Train to Cascais and Sintra: €1.90, Ferry to Cacilhas: €1.26, Trafaria/Porto Brandão: €1.19, Seixal/Barreiro: €2.40, Montijo: €2.76
The Metro is super convenient. There are four lines.
Cais de Sodré is the stop for the ferries across the river, for the Tram 15E or 18E and the suburban train to Cascais. Suburban trains to Sintra, go from Rossio and Roma- Areerio.