Greetings from Portugal

Old Apr 15th, 2022, 12:17 PM
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The line to get inside the gates at 10 am this morning,



I spoke too soon about Sintra being quiet today. I'm at the dining room table in our apartment and the noise from the historic center is unbelievable...then I discovered the window was open a crack (and it's 8:30 pm, so no quiet evenings here as hoped). Thank goodness for double glazed windows.

Our apartment is a short walk from the center, yet on a side street, so has been pretty quiet. We've also avoided all those busy cafes in the center and just stuck to a few restaurants on the edge, which are quieter and have had very good food.

Last edited by Melnq8; Apr 15th, 2022 at 12:30 PM.
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Old Apr 15th, 2022, 12:21 PM
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The line for the Initiation Well when we passed by about 30-45 minutes after we'd gone in
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Old Apr 15th, 2022, 12:27 PM
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I'll remind my husband that the dawdling in the morning may not be the best idea.

Mine's a morning dawdler too. I've had to crack the whip
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Old Apr 15th, 2022, 02:41 PM
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Very much love the photos from Sintra. The crowds, though, not so much. Given current COVID numbers in Europe, I thought about pushing an April trip off to June / July, although I cannot imagine anywhere on the Continent that will be free from crowds this year.
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Old Apr 15th, 2022, 05:51 PM
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<<I'll remind my husband that the dawdling in the morning may not be the best idea.>>

<<Mine's a morning dawdler too. I've had to crack the whip”>>

I’ll make sure to pack my whip, too😉
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Old Apr 15th, 2022, 05:56 PM
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<<You may want to purchase those Regaleira tickets online for your May trip (signs on the way into the ticket office highly "suggested" this, but we didn't because we went in the afternoon on a "slow day" and there were 5 ticket booths open). But by May it may even be more crowded>>

My plan exactly! I’ve no doubt it’ll be busy and I’ll definitely take a cue from Mel and get there as early as we can.


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Old Apr 15th, 2022, 06:09 PM
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I, too, needed to crack the whip!
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 11:23 AM
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Today was an absolute madhouse getting out of Sintra as all of Lisbon seemed to be pouring in. There was a huge bottleneck at the Sintra train station as people getting off their train and exiting through the ticket readers collided with those of us trying to do the opposite. Why they don't have a one way system is baffling.

The area near the Sintra train station was heaving with people and we were relieved to be leaving.

Until...

We arrived to more people than we have ever seen in our collective lives in Lisbon. OMFG.

Our apartment is centrally located on Rossio Square, which I knew would be busy, but this is absolutely horrible. We found dinner on a side street then made the mistake of walking toward the arch (haven't been here long enough to even know the landmarks), but had to turn back because I thought I was going to have a crowd induced panic attack.

We've commented often during this trip how Portugal reminds us of the Middle East...the wafts of sewage, the crumbling and abandoned buildings, and today for the first time, vendors approaching us on the street trying to lure us into their shops and restaurants.. It's the NYC of Portugal and we have no interest in ever going there, so I'm wondering what the hell we were thinking.

Please, please, please tell me this is just an Easter weekend thing. Otherwise, I might seriously consider trying to get out of here a few days early or just hunker down in the apartment until Thursday.


Lisbon

Lisbon

The heaving Tram 28
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 12:25 PM
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Mel,
It's not just an Easter weekend thing, although being there from Good Friday to Easter Sunday exacerbates it--it's also a high season thing when the many mega cruise ships are in port, Lisbon being one of the most popular cruise ports in Europe. A 6,000 passenger ship arrived last month on the day we were leaving.

The area of the Baixa then, especially the 3 main streets that flow north-south into Praça do Comércio, through the arch and to each side, can become a human tsunami. These are Rua Augusta, Rua Aurea (un gentrified) and Rua da Prata.

And the middle of Rua Augusta (your 2nd photo) is lined with the terraces of mediocre restaurants with its buskers trying to lure people to sit and dine. I hate walking down Via August trying to weave in and out of the crowds.
This is why we stay further up, on of slightly off the Avenida da Liberdade, or on a quiet side street in Chiado.

Unfortunately Baixa is where many of the economical airbnbs are located (apartments can be pricier in Chiado) and is popular because it's flat and it's the very first area that the cruise passengers visit when they disembark. So everything from Rossio Square (always bustling now) down south to the water is extremely congested in high season (Easter included). When we were there on a Sunday in late March the Time Out market was a zoo.

Other neighborhoods like the pretty pastel and quiet Campo do Ourique, trendy Príncipe Real, the elegant Avenida da Liberdade (modeled after the Champs Elysées but completely w/o fast food joints, buskers, trinket sellers), Estrela, (where there's a lovely, tranquil park next to the Basilica), the toney embassy district of Lapa, Santos (where the Museu de Arte Antiga sits), Saldanha (the business district) have a totally different feel. The further away you get from the cruise and bus crowds, the better the enjoyment.

The dividing line for us in central Lisbon, is north of the Hard Rock Café, where the tone, architecture and general ambiance changes dramatically!
On weekends there are often local couples dancing in the middle of the Avenida da Liberdade, across from Lacoste, at the "Quiosque O Melhor Bolo de Chocolate do Mundo". It was fun to watch the Lisboetas (not tourists) salsa dancing to Caribbean tunes there on a late Sunday afternoon (can't post our video, but maybe you can see them or there are videos on YouTube).

The further north you go, the less packed it gets, although the HOHO buses do drop passengers off at the bottom of Eduardo VII Park. So, if you're up for a climb, go north, either walking or by uber/taxi and you'll find some solace. The upper reaches of the park are lovely.

Last edited by Maribel; Apr 16th, 2022 at 01:00 PM.
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 12:25 PM
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This is just an Easter weekend thing.
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 01:48 PM
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Thanks Maribel I obviously underestimated things, and I definitely screwed up coming over Easter which has never been a big deal in my world. I also mistakenly thought this was low season, but there you go, got that wrong too.

And this just reinforces while I will never step foot on a cruise ship.

I was mistaken, we're on Praça da Figueira not Rossio, but pretty much the same as far as I can tell.
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 01:58 PM
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Yes, Mel, the Praça da Figueira is the square next door to Rossio. It's just the same, I'm afraid.
The cruise ship business has been a sort of blessing for Lisbon in financial terms but also a true curse.

My advice is to get the hell out of the dodge of Rossio, Praça da Figueira and the entire Baixa (except for a few quiet corners like where the Corpo Santo hotel sits) and venture out to the other neighborhoods I mentioned above. Either by foot, uber or taxi. The lower reaches of the Alfama were also packed to the gills when we were there.


Last edited by Maribel; Apr 16th, 2022 at 02:49 PM.
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 02:56 PM
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Mel,
A few photos, one of crowds, the other of peace.



Time Out Market on a sunny March Sunday


The Jerónimos cloister to ourselves (relatively)


On a ferry ride to Cacihas


The uncrowded Avenida da Liberdade central promenade


The beginning of Liberdade--no derelict buildings here


Avenida da Liberdade, a different side of Lisbon

Last edited by Maribel; Apr 16th, 2022 at 03:43 PM.
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 04:19 PM
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Mel,
This is too late for you but for others...

There's an outdoor produce market on Saturday mornings in the Cais do Sodré area behind the Time Out Market complex on the Praça São Paulo run by Comida Independente. This area is less frequented becasue it sits behind the market.
On this square is a little red quiosque run by the chef, André Magalhães, of Taberna Rua das Flores in Chiado that sells petiscos and drinks and supposedly prepares one of the city's best pregos and bifanas (2 typical Portuguese sandwiches). It has 30 outdoor seats. It's the oldest, from 1872, and only private quiosque in the city. Closed on Sundays.
An alternative if the Time Out Market is bursting at the seams.
https://culinarybackstreets.com/citi...-de-sao-paulo/

And By The Wine on Rua das Flores in Chiado is a great place for petiscos and wines by the glass that doesn't see that many tourists.
https://www.cntraveler.com/restauran...on/by-the-wine
https://www.bythewine.pt/en/.

Last edited by Maribel; Apr 16th, 2022 at 04:35 PM.
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 07:41 PM
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Wow. Just wow. I think the last time I was in Lisbon was late 2014, and I thought then it was getting too popular, but it was nothing like that bad, even in Baixa. I am so glad I went before the mega-cruise ships.

Love your photos, Maribel, that cloister is one of my favorite places.
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 07:57 PM
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Thanks so much, thursdaysd,
We were extremely lucky this time to get to the Jerónimos cloisters just as it opened at 10 am and were the first in line. I first visited in 1970, long, long before the crowds and way before the cruises lines discovered Lisbon, and my photos then are soooooo different!
Now everywhere in tourist frequented Lisbon just constitutes a "fight" to get there before the cruise ship buses arrive!

I'll post more photos later of the more quiet corners of Lisbon. The good news is that there still are quiet, undiscovered corners, but you just need to get out of the tourist zones and seek them out!

Last edited by Maribel; Apr 16th, 2022 at 08:00 PM.
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 08:09 PM
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That's funny, Maribel, I first went in 1970 too, but then I didn't go back for decades. An afternoon in 2004, before the night train to Madrid (and ahead of the EuroCup fans), and then a week in 2008, and then a few more times. But it wasn't until 2014 that it really seemed crowded.

My photos, including the cloister, from 2008: https://kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/...o-2008/Lisbon/

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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 08:23 PM
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So very different then...
Funny that we both first visited Lisbon in 1970, during the Salazar regime. Sad that the night train, the Lusitania Express, no longer runs. I traveled on that train with 3 of my college friends sharing a 4 bunk couchette car overnight during our November holidays. So much fun!
We now go to Lisbon either in November or March just to avoid the crowds.
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Old Apr 16th, 2022, 09:01 PM
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Yes, that train was really the only good way to travel between Spain and Portugal unless you were driving (or hitch hiking, in 1970....). The seat61 site suggests there may be a high speed train on that route in a couple of years. I did the northern route from Santiago to Porto in 2004, and you couldn't even buy a through ticket.

We tend to forget about the dictators who were still power in the '70s, it was so good to see them go.
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Old Apr 17th, 2022, 04:01 AM
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Thanks for the lovely photos of Lisbon - it looks like you’ve found a few of the quieter places in Lisbon! I hope that you do continue to find ways to enjoy the city. And if it is the NYC of Portugal, I won’t complain - I live in NYC and love it.

Maribel, thanks for the additional ideas for Lisbon! And thursdaysd, thanks for the reminiscences of your visits.



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