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Soup of the Day: Lisboa

~Andrea y George Reporting

sunny 74 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

We hoped on a Ryanair jet from Eindhoven, The Netherlands and headed to Lisbon, Spain because we had never been there and it was inexpensive and only a 3 hour flight.
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We arrived on a sunny warm late afternoon at the airport and took a nice, clean metro subway to the station stop closest to our hotel. The metro instructions were very clear and easy to follow which is not the case in many countries. Fortunately, Lisbon is one of those techno-progressive countries were it is pretty easy to get free Wifi so you can check your map and know were you are heading. In fact, I hadn't yet felt the need to actually buy a data card for my phone because free wifi has been pretty easy to find in most cases.
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After unloading, we tour our area and find a nice Italian restaurant that serves pizza and vino. Our waiter, who looked remarkably like a young Matt Dillon, was attentive and spoke pretty good English. Then it is back to the hotel where we plan the following days activities.

We awoke to a bright, clear morning and took to the streets of Lisbon. We located a nice park nearby and strolled past some incredible looking buildings. In the air somewhere, somebody was playing the accordion and we notice that every bit of sidewalk is made up of small white and black stones. In fact, nearly all of Lisbon's wide sidewalks (Lisbon is a very large city) are made up of small black and white stones often patterned in one unique design or another. We are used to sidewalks being made up of mostly slab concrete and to see so much of this stone-tile work impresses us greatly. I can't think of any city we've been too where we are staring at the sidewalk as much as we are the buildings and statues.
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We've found the European 'Hop on Hop off' bus to be a pretty good value. For not very much money, you can get a great tour (in your language) of the main city highlights in about 2 hours. The ticket is good for 48 hours so you can revisit places that interests you and simply "hop off" and check out the area and then "hop on" your bus again to your next stop. Most of these buses come with free Wifi which allows you to supplement your tour information as well as make a Skype call to a loved one to show them what you are seeing. The buses are double-decker types with the top level partially open so you can work on your tan while learning about how Lisbon was destroyed by a quake and tsunami many centuries ago. Remember, always wear sunscreen!
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Our bus takes us around the entire city and we enjoy seeing many important sites. Parts of the city remind us of Merida Mexico and other parts remind us of Paris and San Francisco, CA. After awhile, you begin to think you are in San Francisco, California because of the way hilly Lisbon is situated next to the Tagus river which is about the same size of the SF Bay. Lisbon also boosts a GG Bridge copy which was built by the same folks that built the Oakland Bay Bridge (the old one, not the new one which won't last 10 years apparently). Lisbon is also a city of several hills and one can jump on some cranky old cable car-looking trams that rumble up the narrow streets. We originally planned on staying two nights here but added another because there is so much to see and do in Lisbon, a soup-city made up of other cities.
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You can get great views of the Lisbon from a variety of beautiful vista parks or via a steampunk style elevator in the heart of the city. We were blessed with good weather during our entire stay so we walked quite a bit along the riverfront and up the hypnotic, narrow alley ways that tangle
through the quaint Alfama district. Everywhere you turn is an opportunity to sit and enjoy the beauty of a Lisbon park or sip a cool beverage while looking out over the red tile roofs towards the horizon.

As I wrote earlier, Lisbon is a very big city so if you have just a few days to visit, use the Hop On/Off bus as much as you can to see the most of Lisbon. And when you walk, look down and be amazed at the artistry and time it took to create the sidewalk/artwork that makes your shoes feel like they are in a museum.

Pictures are worth a thousand words they say. Well, here you go and enjoy Andrea's postcard to Lisboa!


------------------------------------
Dear Lisbon,

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What a great first impression! Upon our arrival, you were simple and intuitive to navigate from the airport, to the metro, to our hotel.

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Your 25 Abril bridge was built by the same company who built our Bay Bridge in Oakland, even though you look a lot like our Golden Gate bridge.
(from wiki: "The 25 de Abril Bridge is based on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, US. Both SFOBB and the 25 de Abril Bridge were built by the same company. The American Society of Civil Engineers says that "Like its sister bridge, the SFOBB in San Francisco, the Tagus River Bridge is located in an area with a long history of earthquakes" and seismic data had to be taken into account in its construction. Another sister bridge is the Forth Road Bridge in Edinburgh.")

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Parts of your waterfront remind us of the S.F. Embarcadero as well. Your old and beautiful buildings, along with fuscia bougainvilleas remind us of Merida. But your sidewalks of white limestone and black basalt in endless patterns adorning every walkway here, are a unique characteristic we have only seen here.

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The Alfama area is charming and your hills with views, and streetcars, again, reminiscent of S.F.

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We visited two Botanical Gardens with the modest entry fee of two euros, which are lovely distractions from the city.

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We enjoyed a glass of port at a wine bar, playing your beloved Fado music. We had tasty pizza at an Italian restaurant near our hotel where our waiter looked like a young, Portuguese Matt Dillon.

We stopped at Pasteis de Belem for your famous little cake (which was sort of like a mini creme brulee to me).

We realize there is much, much more to you Lisboa that we had time to experience in two days. We explored as much as we could, and enjoyed ourselves here. We hope to return. Obrigado.

Posted by woa 14:52 Archived in Portugal

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