by Erin Elaine
This past weekend I spent about 3 and a half days in Lisbon (Lisboa) and Sintra, in Portugal. It was a great trip and I had a lot of fun, despite the less than stellar weather. I’ve decided to split the posts into 2, one for Lisbon and one for Sintra, and to arrange it by topic rather than chronologically. Let me know if you prefer this rather than chronologically.
Lisbon (Lisboa) is the capital of Portugal. It is the oldest city in Western Europe, predating even Rome by hundreds of years. It is located in south-west Portugal, where the Tagus River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
The Historic Cable Cars
Lisbon is a very hilly city, so they still use 100-year-old cable cars to traverse the tight turns on these hills, because they’re small enough to make all the hairpin turns. It was so fun to be walking down the street and hear the “ding ding!” and look to see a cable car zipping by me. They almost feel like a rollercoaster when you ride them, because they go up and down the hills so fast and the ride isn’t smooth at all. But it was a fun experience.
Portuguese food is similar to other Mediterranean cuisine, but with more seafood. Portugal has the highest per capita seafood consumption in Europe, and it ranks 4th in the world. The national dish is cod, and it is said that there are over 365 ways to cook cod, one for every day of the year. Shrimp, clams, lobster, and other fish are also very common. I’m a big seafood fan so I enjoyed the food a lot.
This was my favorite dish of the entire trip. First they took a loaf of bread and scooped out the middle to make a bread bowl. Then they took all those little pieces of bread and cooked them in garlic sauce with shrimp. It was so thick I ate it with a fork and it was delicious.
“Fado is sung as if tomorrow would not happen, as if it was very last song one would ever sing.”
Click here to listen to a little Fado in the background while you read the rest of the post. It will really give you a feel for Lisbon.
Fado is a style of music that originated in the mid-1800s in Lisbon. There are generally one or two singers accompanied by one or two guitar players. The singing is very heartfelt, soulful, and emotional. The lyrics vary from songs about love, to heartbreak, to the sea, to the everyday lives of the poor, to story-songs, to political songs. The guitarist uses a portuguese guitar (12 strings) and generally plucks or strums rather than playing chords, and often plucks very fast. Translated to English, Fado means “fate”.
I went to a Fado show and also the Fado Museum, and I enjoyed both very much. I plan to buy some Fado music soon.
Azulejos (Tiles) – The National Artform
The UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Alfama, the oldest neighborhood.
Castelo de São Jorge
A note on saving money – the “Lisboa Card” is a great deal. It offers unlimited rides on all public transport, including metro, cable cars, buses, and the 45-minute train to Sintra. It also offers free or reduced entry to almost every site in the city, as well as in Sintra. All the UNESCO sites, museums, palaces, castles, absolutely everything was either free or discounted. And it was only 38 euros for a 3-day pass.
Next post – Sintra!
The rest of the pictures