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THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND LISBON

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THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND LISBON.

1 - Tourist tram around the old quarter. From Praça do Commercio. 15 euros or so pp. great views of the narrow cobbled streets no wider than the antique tram, past the castle and looking out over terraces and terra cotta tiled roofs. Makes 1 stop for 10 minutes or so at Basilica de Estrela. Huge Cathedral - free to enter, but don't catch the tram at lunch or it'll be closed.

2 - Catch the ferry from Cais do Sodre to Cacilhas. 65 cents each way. Great views to Lisbon itself from the southern bank. Take a cab to Christo Rei. Climb up to Christ's feet and admire the 360º view. Fantastic photography of the Ponte 25 de Abril.

3 - Saturdays - catch a cab to Feira de Ladra - a huge open air flea market in the old quarter. Watch out for pick pockets but brilliant photo ops.

4 - Go to Castelo S. Jorge for a calm afternoon in the shade. Not sure if you pay to enter now. Good views across old quarter.

5 - Take an elevator ride up Santa Justa downtown. A bit like the Eiffel tower, get off the lift climb the rickety spiral stairs to the bar on top. Very expensive to drink up there. Amazing if somewhat vertigo inducing views.

6 - EXPO - go to the Oceanarium. Amazing to see the sharks.

7 - Take a cab or tram to Belem. A MUST SEE is Mosteiro dos Geronimos. The resting place of Vasco da Gama. UNESCO world heritage site. Monument to the Discoveries across the park and Belem Tower. (Tor de Belem) Fill up with traditional pastries in "Pasteis de Belem." Just ask someone, everyone knows where it is.

8 - Take the train from Cais do Sodre to Cascais - about 1/2 hr along the coast. Great views to the sea. Lots of wonderful restaraunts in Cascais - and once there take a cab to "Boca do Inferno." Don't stand to close to the edge of the cliffs though.

9 - Bairro Alto. Daytime, nice old shopping area, steep hills cobbled roads charming shops and coffee shops. Lively at night - visit a Fado house for dinner wine and live fado music.

10 - Soccer fans should visit Benfica’s stadium. Estadio de Luz. Take the metro to Colegio/Luz. Great atmosphere matchday, museum and statues of Eusebio and club shop weekdays.

11 - Shopaholics – Columbo Shopping Mall. Just opposite the above stadium. Millions of shops in a covered mall, small theme park with rollercoaster for children.

12 - Costa da Caparica, across the river on south bank. (Close to where I live) Nice on weekends and summer days. See the fresh fish being brought up onto the beach. 7 miles of sand. Great surfing. A five mile narrow gauge railway through the sand dunes. (Summer) Many seafood restaraunts.

13 - Take the river cruise up and down the Tagus River, (Tejo.) Can be caught from the terminal at Praça do Commercio. (Summer only???)

14 - Open top bus rides around the city. Close to where you catch the tourist tram in Praca do Commercio. (But the old tram is better!)

15 – Centro Cultural do Belem. C.C.B. Various programs. Classical music. Jazz concerts. Art / photography exhibitions – recently had World Press Photo 2005 and a retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein.

16 – Meat eaters should go to the original Portugalia restaurant Avenida Almirante Reis. Bigs steaks in Portuguese styles. A bit touristy and packed.

17 – For a really good overview of Portuguese cuisine check out Trinidade in Bairro Alto. A famous eating place and one of my favourites. Good wine list and varied menu. Well priced. (For tourists most places are very cheap to eat!) Arrive early or wait for tables, has a bar where you queue so get a beer in!

18 – For surfers check out Guincho for the big waves and wild seas. 30 mins drive on a good day.

19 – Motor racing fans should go to Autodromo do Estoril. Has hosted Formula 1 in the past, I think Ayrton Senna was the last winner, but now moto GP and lesser formulas.

20 – Gamblers will like Casino Estoril, slots, tables etc. Posh, expensive, I think there is a dress code but my wife won’t let me go so I can’t check for you, sorry!

Many more things to do, I’ll list as I think of them.

DAY TRIPS.

No particular order.

1 - Sintra, for the Palace, (Which you can see from Lisbon on a clear day) Moorish Castle, gardens and beautiful village. Arrive early leave late to avoid the crowds esp weekends and summer. Try eating the Queijadinhas de Sintra, sweet little tartlets that you’ll find in the coffee shops. Home for a while of poet Byron who called it “A glorious Eden”

2 – Cascais, Boca do Inferno, Cabo de Roca as mentioned – take train from Cais do Sodre till end, cab to Boca do Inferno or drive to Cabo do Roca, most westerly point in Europe. But the restaurant is completely crap offering substandard menu of burgers etc and expensive. Shame for it has a wonderful view. (Was there last summer – walked in walked out and ate elsewhere!)

3 – Obidos. Two hours from Lisbon +/- depending on traffic. Medieval walled town pretty painted houses inside, possible to walk round the walls though somewhat vertigo inducing and a little narrow. Very touristic but wonderful food. Look esp as you go through the entrance gatehouse at the tiled murals. Photo opportunities abound. Be sure to try Ginjinha, sweet cherry brandy type tipple. Sometimes served in a chocolate cup which you eat afterwards. Arrive early, stay late. In the summer open air concerts in the castle ampitheatre, classical music, opera, Madre Deus a famous portuguese band in the style of Enya’s music do various candle lit concerts. Try to stay a night in the Castle Pousada, (Guesthouse) Very romantic setting.

4 – Marvão. Okay THIS IS MY FAVOURITE VILLAGE IN PORTUGAL. Okay, got that out the way. Marvão is an untouristy version of Obidos on the spanish border. A good 2 ½ hours +, especially in my Land Rover! Rarely visited by the crowds because of the distance. Well worth it. 360º views over Portugal and Spain, border is about 5 miles from it. Castle and medieval walls. The last time I was there (for I usually take cisitors to it) an eagle was flying about 2 metres from me. Charming little gift shop handful of restaurants. You get the feeling people actually live here because every house is a house not a tourist shop. Close by is Castelo da Vide about 4 miles another medieval town on that mountain range. Very picturesque to. Stay in a Pousada and spend 2 days between the two. If I could by a house in Marvão I would! Golf course nearby.

5 – Santarem. About ½ hours north. Pretty town with great views and lots of decent restaurants. Medieval capital of Portugal (at least that’s what the signs on the motorway say!) Close by are the Grutas da Mira D’aire. (Deep caves) Well worth a visit but a little difficult to find. Not to far from Santarem is Tomar, worth an afternoon if you are up that way.

6 – Ericeira. A charming fishing village situated high on the cliffs to the north of Lisbon. 1 hr out. +/-. Steep roads lead to the harbour at the bottom. Nice to stay in the square drinking coffee in the afternoon watching the old people.

7 – WINE LOVERS TAKE NOTE. Forget Porto for the day. Instead head south from Lisbon to Azeitão. Here is the home of José Maria Fonseca. (Those Americans amongst you may know Lancers, a sparkling pink wine very nice chilled) Okay actually in the village itself, the original Quinta (Farm) Here are vineyard tours conducted with a wine museum and tasting at the end. Tours are in English and the wine tasting at the end is great. Assign a driver!!! With a little wine shop selling their own products. A great tour, another one I take visitors on. Especially as a friend of mine was the commercial manager!

Oh and so many more – how many days do you have. I can post more ideas as they come to me.

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