Lisbon versus Madrid

Old Jul 6th, 2009, 12:38 PM
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Lisbon versus Madrid

I have the opportunity to go to Lisbon (and probably a smaller town or two) OR Madrid (and probably Seville) the second week of September. A friend has a travel fellowship, so lodging will be paid for(thank you friend!). Which country would you recommend and why? I've been to Barcelona, but otherwise have not visited either Spain or Portugal. My friend is an architect, so that will be a focus of our trip. Recently, I have enjoyed smaller cities (e.g. Florence and Sienna over Rome), but can be game for anything since this is such a lovely, unexpected surprise. Thoughts?
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Old Jul 6th, 2009, 03:03 PM
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My comments are biased since I love Madrid. Any opinion is equally biased, why don't you buy a guide book on each city and try do see which one impresses you more.
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Old Jul 6th, 2009, 03:13 PM
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If your friend has not been to Barcelona, then he/she should use the fellowship there. Guadi and Puig are most interesting architects and their sense of design and style are unique and compelling. Otherwise I would choose Madrid. Whether it is Retiro, the boulevards, the plazas, or the buildings Madrid us much more diverse. I found the later architecture in Lisbon such as The Padrao dos Descobrimentos stilted and forced.

Clearly a very narrow personal opinion.
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Old Jul 6th, 2009, 03:48 PM
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Well I'm not that fond of Madrid - but would definitely do it and Seville (magnificent) over Portugal.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 06:14 AM
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I agree about Barcelona. Fascinating! We have been there. She is specifically going to Portugal to see the work of a particular architect and then will have some extra time (when I would be joining her). She will be in both Lisbon and Madrid, it's just a matter of where I want to join.

nytraveler if you read this, why would your choose Madrid, which you are not fond of, over Portugal?

I'm doing my own research, of course, but people's first hand's impressions are always so interesting!
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 10:43 AM
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surely you're not solely going for the architecture - you want to enjoy the city in which case i'd suggest lisbon every time, esp in september. possibilities are much greater than in madrid (great city but aside from the three great galleries, the lovely park, the fantastic nightlife and a few not v inspiring palaces/cathedrals what stands out?). Lisbon has: fantastic modern architecture at the parque das nacoes, incredible sights (incl architecture) like the manueline absurdities in belem, a brilliant new art gallery (berardo - more aqrch.), the lovely gulbenkian museum, grewta city centre squares and buildings. apart from that you can eat at wonderful restaurants, cheap or not so cheap, do the bairro alto club/bar thing, cxhill and shop in chiado, stroll the riverside quays, go down to belem which is a historical wonderland, climb through the lovely old moorish district to the castle, have great coffee and way better pastries than in madrid everywhere, take the rickety old trams, visit the amazing oceanarium aquarium, get a train to the resorts of cascais and estoril (30 mins) or the fairytale palace town of sintra (bit longer), take a ferry across the river to have a fishy am i doing?
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 04:51 PM
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If I had to choose, Madrid would be my choice, I really didn't care for Lisbon. Madrid and Seville are so different from each other and are nothing like Barcelona.
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Old Jul 8th, 2009, 06:16 AM
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I'd go for Lisbon, but I have to admit that I spent only a day in Madrid, so maybe I didn't get the full picture there. Madrid felt like a big city and overwhelmed me. Lisbon is big too, but has great neighborhoods, a big selection of beautiful smaller museums and was more interesting place in my opinion to walk your feet off in. Because of the hills you get fabulous views at every turn.
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Old Jul 8th, 2009, 06:39 AM
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I would visit Lisboa because it is so unique and you have access to Sintra, one of the most beautiful towns I have ever seen.

Madrid is much more of a world-class city with better restaurants and shops.

However, the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisboa can certainly hold its own with the Prado in Madrid.

Lisboa, to me, is a very old-fashioned, charming city.

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Old Jul 8th, 2009, 07:56 AM
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Both cities are worth seeing, but my vote is for Lisbon. Lisbon may not impress you immediately, but the city has great charm -- to me, it is like an unpolished Paris. Much to see and a "feel good" atmosphere. Highlights include Belem and the Jeronimos Monastery and the tram ride up to the castle.

If you like port, there is a port wine bar called Solar do Vinho do Porto that I could hole up in for hours! We enjoyed Lisbon and Portugal so much that we returned for a second, longer visit (and will return again someday)

If you like music, a visit to a fado club is a must. Fado music is emotional and thrilling (heartbreaking tales of love and loss) accompanied by fabulous guitar playing. Each club is different and well worth spending a couple nights.

Lisbon also offers some terrific small towns nearby. Sintra, already mentioned, is lovely -- a perfect day trip. Other places (each about 2 hrs away so an overnight stay is best) include the university town of Coimbra and the formerly Roman town of Evora. Both are fascinating and easy to reach by public transportation.

To me Madrid is bigger and colder. Portugal is more down-to-earth, the people are very friendly and welcoming, and the sights are more unusual.
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Old Jul 13th, 2009, 08:20 AM
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"Madrid is bigger and colder"

Quite literally, at least when I was there this past November.

Lisbon: lows in the upper 40's, highs around 60
Madrid: lows in the mid 20's, highs in the low 40's
(all temperatures are in fahrenheit)

I've spent about 10 days in Lisbon (spread over 2 trips) but only 3 full days in Madrid, one of which was spent as a daytrip to Toledo. So my basis for comparison is pretty limited.

Lisbon reminds me of a large city in Italy (Florence, Bologna, Verona, etc., but not Rome or Milan), both in terms of geography/demographics but also pace-of-life. Have uma bica e um pastel de Belém for breakfast in Lisbon, have an espresso or cappucino and un cornetto for breakfast in Italy. Take life one step at a time -- as my Italian cousin says, "no stress" (just say it with an Italian accent though )

Madrid reminds me of New York City. They are completely different cities.

I forget if she went to Spain, but get the book <i>A Year in the World</i> by Frances Mayes (of <i>Under the Tuscan Sun</i> fame). It's not really a sequel to UTTS but it does have some references in there to her villa in Cortona. I read the book during the spring of 2007, and the chapter on Lisbon was the whole reason why I went there. Had I never read that book, I probably would never have gone to Lisbon. I think that AYITW has a chapter on Spain but I'm not positive.
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Old Jul 13th, 2009, 08:23 AM
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Dear, dear Lisbon. Lots of charm! Just be careful of the pickpockets on the tram.
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Old Jul 13th, 2009, 08:51 AM
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Does language matter to you? Most people seem to be more comfortable with Spanish than with Portuguese....
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