We have recently returned from a week spent in Lisbon in mid August.
If you're looking for an apartment that's central, clean and comfortable I can recommend the one we rented through Maria Gomes. This apartment is listed on the lisbonapartments dot com website. Maria has two apartments on the same floor of this building – Silver 1 and Silver 11. Our Silver 1 apartment was 1 bedroom, and I understand the other is somewhat larger, so would be ideal for two families who wanted a bit of separate space.
Both the agency and Maria were very prompt with their replies to my emails; supermarkets and transport are close by, and it's in a level area of the city.
We didn’t eat at all in restaurants, so can’t offer any advice there. One of the reasons we rent apartments is because of my food allergies – much safer for me to cook and know exactly what I’m eating. An apartment also gives us so much more space, as well as laundry facilities, and is as close as we are likely to get to actually living in far flung places.
Our view from this apartment looks across at some lovely old tiled walls on the buildings across the road, and there are the most delicious aromas drifting up from the restaurants. It's a bit like smokey wood fire, along with some kind of spice - maybe paprika? I'll have to investigate more tomorrow. There are little old timber trams running along our street; but not so much traffic that it is noticeable.
Just a block down the end of the street is the river - looks more like a harbour from here. As we flew in I was surprised to see how big this city is; for some reason I expected it to be much more compact.
DH arrived in Lisbon with an extremely heavy cold, and has taken to his bed to sleep it off. I've managed to negotiate a ginormous elevator that takes you up to the top of the nearest hill and, for those in the know, the local supermarket tucked away in the basement of a building across the road and up a small laneway. Luckily our agent explained how to find it, otherwise I don't think we'd ever realise it was there.
Our first day in Lisbon is a public holiday (for The Assumption) so several times through the day our church across the road had very tuneful peals of bells ringing. You wouldn't know its a church from outside - the walls are all tiled, with no windows; the only give away is a tiny metal cross way up on the roofline. An early evening visit I made to the church coincided with a ceremony that included chanting and the lighting of the candles – all very calming and restful.
Day two -today DH has managed to be upright for several hours at a time; so far all he's seen of Lisbon is inside the apartment and the pharmacy. We visited the local pharmacist yesterday; she supplied some chest-loosening mixture, and told him to take Panadol to reduce his temperature . . . funny how the voice of authority carries more weight than mine!
I've been out exploring the local streets, and found one little gem this morning. On Rua da Conceicao there’s a whole string of old fashioned haberdashery shops, the kind with boxes of buttons with a sample one of each style stuck on the front, threads and yarns of all kinds. There were storekeepers behind the counter serving customers, measuring out ribbons, etc - it was like a walk back in time.
When we arrived Maria had left us some little Portuguese tarts, and I came across the shop they came from, just around the corner from here. She said they were the best in Lisbon, and the aroma and displays there were delightful.
Day three - Today DH is finally back in the land of the living, so we set off for the Castel St Jorge that sits on the hill directly above us.
We took the same elevator that goes to our supermarket, where you get in the front of the lift, go up 3 floors, then get out of the back of the lift, onto the higher street level.
Next we walked up a slight hill, and repeated the same process up the next elevator, this time rising 5 floors to the next street level. After a 5 minute up hill walk we finally arrived at the castle. The streets had risen so quickly and steeply, I'm glad we didn't have to climb all that way.
Of course the views from up there are quite spectacular over the whole city. We are able to locate our building because of the church opposite us here. I must say, this church has the strangest system of bell chiming - 8am gets 9 rings, 12 noon gets 12 but is preceded by 6 about two minutes to twelve, and throughout the day there are long peals of ringing at varying times. Thankfully they are silent through the night!
Anyhow back to the castle; as well as interesting grounds, they have a museum that was very stylishly done with just enough detail about the castle's history going back to the first use of that site in the Iron Age. Made us realise just how old this part of the world is.
After lunch and a bit of a rest, we walk down to the waterfront and catch a little ferry across the Tagus River to Cacilhas. The waterway here is very much a working harbour with only a couple of leisure craft, but plenty of ferries and larger shipping. There are a number of restaurants, a small church and a few shops close by the ferry wharf – we didn’t venture any further than this as DH is still taking things a bit easy. Lovely views of Lisbon on the return journey.
Day four: We take the 28E tram to Prazeres, then back again to the town centre via Castel Sao Jorg and through the Alrama district. This is a very easy way to see the neighbourhoods that are so hilly, without having to walk. We made a point of setting out early on this trip; in the middle of the day we’d seen just how crowded those little trams can get. If you don’t get a seat, the view from standing position would be very limited.
Day five: This morning we set out to catch the train to an area just out of the city, to visit Belem. Once we've negotiated buying tickets, we jump on the train already on the platform, with the display board showing the station at the end of the correct line.
We seem to be going a lot further than I had expected we'd need to, but haven’t seen any sign of our Belem stop. It isn’t until the ticket inspector comes along that we find out that this train isn’t an 'all stops', and that we had actually whizzed by our station quite some time back! He is very nice about it, and sets us right for backtracking - this includes going back two stops, then changing trains for one that is an 'all stops'. So we had a free trip along a very scenic stretch of the coastline, and arrived at our destination about an hour later than intended.
Belem is well worth visiting for the old monastery and the Monument to the Discoverers.
I think we somehow managed to save the best for last here in Lisbon. This afternoon we once again take our two elevators to the top of the hill, but this time wind our way back down through some of the little side streets, looking at artisan ships and old tiled walls on some of the older buildings.
We are in the Alfama district - the oldest part of Lisbon. Many of the little restaurants have traditional music playing, so there is a lovely atmosphere. I'm most grateful that we didn't end up with an apartment up here though . . . way too much walking up hill would soon lose its novelty!
We didn’t buy any of the discount transport cards, but just paid for individual fares on the occasions that we needed to. It wasn’t till our last day that we realised that each time you buy a ticket, you are charged a fee for the actual card that can then be reloaded with another fare. This wasn’t the most economical way of travel, and had DH not been so unwell we would have done more extensive tripping around and had good value from a multi-trip card.
We had organised a pick up for transport between the apartment and the airport – this was done through the Lisbon Apartments website and was a very reliable service.
Lisbon was a lovely city to visit – it has given us a tempting taste of what Portugal has to offer for travellers.
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We have recently returned from a week spent in Lisbon in mid August.