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Trip Report Lisbon: Europe without the attitude or price-tag

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We just returned from a trip to Europe, which began with 5 nights in Lisbon. We'd never been to Portugal, but it seemed appealing based on my research and all the comments here on Fodor's.

Thanks to Fodorites, we took the plunge and could not have been happier in Lisbon! What a wonderful place for visitors to explore. We found the people to be warm, hospitable, friendly and happy to have tourists there.

In fact, we may have liked it all the more for its 'underdog' status in Europe. This city has gorgeous architecture, and a rich history of which it is proud. We were sadly astonished to see how many beautiful old buildings in the city center were sitting vacant and untended. Signs of a stressed economy. Buildings which would be prime real estate in Paris, for example.

I need to review my travel notes and will post details shortly. For now, I wanted to say how much we loved Lisbon.

We stayed at the fabulous Hotel Avenida Palace. Beautiful interiors, wonderful service, and the best possible location for walking everywhere. The avenue was alive at nearly all hours, and it felt like a safe place. The Rossio (sp?) train station, also a beautiful old complex, is directly next door to the hotel.

Our double room included breakfast, which was served in elegant style, featuring an extensive hot and cold buffet, replenished frequently in the most gorgeous dining room. I splurged on eggs benedict every morning, with fresh croissants. (Vacation is not the time to diet, I figure!). I also ate my fill of proscuitto every morning. It is a rare treat for me here in the States, but they served platters of it there everyday. Also scrambled eggs, fresh crepes put out every few minutes, plus fruit salads, juices, yoghurt, sliced beef and cheese-- you name it. It was heaven, to start out days with such a great breakfast which basically kept us full till evening. (Our rate at the Avenida Palace was just 143EU, including breakfast. I had reserved several weeks in advance, with no-penalty cancellation and payment upon departure.)

We arrived from the States at 10:00am at the Avenida Palace, expecting to store luggage and wait the painful several hours before getting our room. But-- wonderful surprise-- the hotel had prepared our room for an early arrival and let us in immediately. Our first introduction to the amazing hospitality of Lisbon!

The first afternoon, we were delighted to find an international bike race was taking place directly under our hotel window. DH is a true bike fanatic, so this was a sign we were in the right place! We walked down to the Avenue and watched the bikers fly by on the cobble-stone streets. It was really amazing.

Then, we walked all around the neighborhood, getting acquainted with our new adventure and liking Lisbon more with every street. It has the feel of Europe, like I said, with historic architecture, small markets, high-end shops, restaurants and cafes, etc. But prices are so reasonable, and people are so friendly. They seemed to truly appreciate the business we brought them.

So, I will review my photos and my notes, and post more details about where we ate, what we saw, and our day-trips. For now, suffice it to say that we were enchanted by Lisbon!

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