Erin Explores

by Erin Elaine

From Lisbon With Love (Dec 2012 trip)

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.

The City

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.

Plaza Comercio

Plaza Comercio

Portas do Sol - viewpoint overlooking the Alfama neighborhood

Portas do Sol – viewpoint overlooking Alfama


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.

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The Food

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.

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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.

Pork chops cooked with clams. Yum!

Pork chops cooked with clams. Yum!

Yeah the sausage is on fire. It was also very yummy!

Yeah the sausage is on fire. It was also very yummy!

Pasteis of Belem. These famous pastries have a crunchy shell and soft vanilla custard in the middle. Very delicious!

Pasteis of Belem. These famous pastries have a crunchy shell and soft vanilla custard in the middle. Very delicious!

Fado

“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.

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Azulejos (Tiles) – The National Artform

The following section are photos from the Museu do Azulejos, though you’ll see tiles on many of the buildings I have pictures of.
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The highlight of the museum is a blue and white composition of 1300 tiles, 23m (75ft) in length, of Lisbon's cityscape made in 1738, prior to the Great Earthquake.

The highlight of the museum is a blue and white composition of 1300 tiles, 23m (75ft) in length, of Lisbon’s cityscape made in 1738, prior to the Great Earthquake.

The UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The Belem Tower was built in the early 16th century, both as a maritime fortification, and also as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon during the Age of Discoveries.

The Belem Tower was built in the early 16th century, both as a maritime fortification, and also as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon during the Age of Discoveries.

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I love how this tower is right on the beach like a kid’s sand castle.

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The exterior of Jerónimos Monastery, built in 1495.

Jerónimos Monastery, built in 1495. Be sure to enlarge the picture, as the intricate stonework is very beautiful.

The intricate stonework is very beautiful.

Alfama, the oldest neighborhood.

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Many of the streets in Alfama are so narrow you wouldn’t even be able to get a golf cart through. I enjoyed just wandering through this neighborhood, through all the twisty narrow streets.

Alfama is considered to be the cultural soul of Lisbon. Bairro Alto is the "fun" district of Lisbon, but Alfama is far more traditional and historical.

Alfama is considered to be the cultural soul of Lisbon. Bairro Alto is the “fun” district of Lisbon, but Alfama is far more traditional and historical.

Castelo de São Jorge

St. George's Castle (Castelo de São Jorge). The castle itself dates from the middle ages, although there is evidence of an ancient city on this site from 600 BC (wow!)

St. George’s Castle (Castelo de São Jorge). The castle itself dates from the middle ages, although there is evidence of an ancient city on this site from 600 BC (wow!)

Some of the old remains from around 600 BC.

Some of the old remains from around 600 BC.

The view!

The view!

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An absolutely breathtaking peacock roaming the grounds.

An absolutely breathtaking peacock roaming the grounds.

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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

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4 comments on “From Lisbon With Love (Dec 2012 trip)

  1. jumpingpolarbear
    December 12, 2012

    These pictures brought back some memories from when I visited Lisbon a year and half ago :).

    • Erin Elaine
      December 12, 2012

      Glad to hear that! It’s such a wonderful city. 🙂

  2. ShruTroup
    December 12, 2012

    Lisbon is one of my favorite places in the world! I visited it this past summer..thank you for bringing me back to the colorful city, the soulful fado and the yummy pasteis. Cheers!

  3. THE VIBE 101
    December 13, 2012

    AMAZING pics!!! Luv Luv Luv

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This entry was posted on December 12, 2012 by in Culture, Food, Music, Photos, Portugal, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , .
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