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Surprise Trip to Lisbon!!

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Dec 26th, 2012, 08:14 AM
  #1
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Surprise Trip to Lisbon!!

I have a landmark birthday coming up next week, so my LW (ms_go) decided to surprise me with a quick trip to Lisbon. We depart on New Year’s Day!

Since I found out on Friday night, I have been devouring the DK/Eyewitness Lisbon book and we’ve acquired a decent map of the city. Aside from that, here’s what I know so far…

* We’re staying in an apartment right in the heart of town, in the Bairro Alto neighborhood. Only for 4 sleeps.

* I’ve already read up on the 72-hour Lisbon Card, and it’s an excellent value… we’ll get them right at the airport.

* Walking around, taking public transportation and exploring the major sites are the main activities… with eating and drinking a close second. The DK book has a couple of good walking tours laid out, and I have this walking tour bookmarked already: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-of-lisbon.cfm

* Outings to Sintra and the Palacio Queluz are already being planned, as well.

OK… so what don’t I know that I need to?
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Dec 26th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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* Outings to Sintra and the Palacio Queluz are already being planned, as well.

Sorry, meant to mention Belem here too.
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Dec 26th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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I know nothing about Lisbon but wanted to say happy birthday and what a great surprise. Have a wonderful trip.
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Dec 26th, 2012, 08:33 AM
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I had trouble with my Lisbon metro pass/card. It didn't seem to work properly after the first swipe. However, basic transportation in Lisbon is so inexpensive -- including taxis -- I didn't even bother to take it back to the tourist office to see what the problem was. Just a heads up.

I don't know if you enjoy any museum going, but the Gulbenkian museum in Lisbon is one of Europe's very finest, truly outstanding, and certainly the very best European museum based around a private collection. Although it is small, it is so rich it is almost impossible to describe how interesting it is. The closest I can come is to say it has the same eclectic fascination as the Smithsonian in DC, although the collection is nothing like that. It spans histories and continents, and represents the highest achievement in craft of many exceptional cultures. It is very easily reached by metro. It is worth walking through the adjacent gardens as well. The cafeteria in the modern art museum is often recommended as a place to eat, but I don't know why.

The Convento do Carmo in Lisbon is not very far from where you are staying and it is a sight of exceptional importance to the history of Lisbon. It is quite small to visit, and is located in an atmospheric square, so I highly recommend you stop by and enter if it is not already on one of your walking tours.

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/p...vento-do-carmo

Bon Jardim is a Lisbon "institution", filled with unchanging charm. It serves simple roast chicken at bargain prices. It is easy to google up the address. I think it is too easy in Lisbon to get drawn into guidebook "recommended" restaurants that are recommended because they are middle brow and "safe" choices. Lisbon is filled with inexpensive homey eateries serving up delicious mackerel, sardines and octopus, and hearty bowls of soup, plus the great inexpensive wines of Portugal, so if you are at all adventurous, you should follow your instincts.

The Monastery at Belem is very much worth your time. I never bothered to wait on line to buy pasteles from the famous shop there, but if you want to, be prepared for a line.

If you are looking for a special souvenir, the Claus Porto soaps of Portugal are exceptional.

Lisbon has a reputation for pickpockets, so take precautions. My feeling about it is that it is a fairly low-key trade that preys on drunks and people who get distracted in very crowded tourist spots, taking pictures or in a crush of people getting on and off the 28 tram. Nothing threatening, but tuck away your wallet.
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Dec 26th, 2012, 08:39 AM
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Just noticed my misspelling;

The roast chicken restaurant I mentioned is Bom Jardim
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Dec 26th, 2012, 08:45 AM
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This bar is very fun with fabulous decor:

http://www.thelisbonconnection.com/l...one-of-a-kind/
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Dec 26th, 2012, 08:56 AM
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Awesome... thanks so much! Good tips, all of them.

We promise a trip report and photos when we return!
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Dec 26th, 2012, 08:57 AM
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This is terrific news mr_go! And we certainly do seem to be trailing each other in our travels...I'm heading to Portugal in May next year! Will definitely look forward to your trip report and pictures of your trip!

and...Happy Birthday!
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Dec 26th, 2012, 09:02 AM
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Definitely see the Tile Museum and the Decorative Arts Museum.

If you go to the Gulbenkian note that there is more than 1 museum. There's the modern art museum and the traditional museum. It's a bit difficult to find as the signage is poor or non existent. There's 1 sign as you exit the metro and then no more signs. The modern art museum had a sign over the door that is cut into the stucco (you need to be looking for it to see it). The traditional museum is around the corner (if facing the modern go left and turn right - it's the second building).

Laurie Reynolds, from this board, has a nice walking tour designed - she's a Portugal expert and was very helpful to me when planning my trip.

Sintra was my favorite city.
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Dec 26th, 2012, 09:19 AM
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What a wonderful birthday gift! Lisbon and it's residents are so welcoming. Have a bica or two (espressos) with little custard pastries at Cafe Suiza in the main plaza. Dinner at Acorba(letter c should have a little coma under it) in Barrio Alto is wonderful. Visit Jeronimos in Belem. The Museum of Tiles(azuelos)is so worthwhile. Have a great time!
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Dec 26th, 2012, 09:23 AM
  #11
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LCI... yeah, this is getting uncanny. Are you a stalker?! ;-)

adrienne... great tip about the Gulbenkian. And yes, I've bookmarked Laurie's wonderful walking tour!

BTW -- Anybody ever eat at this place? It looks to be right in my wheelhouse...
http://www.imperiodossentidos.com.pt/site/
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Dec 26th, 2012, 09:58 AM
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I know absolutely ZERO about Portugal...just wanted to say Happy Birthday and what a lovely gift!
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Dec 26th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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I agree that Gulbenkian is a must see! And since you're in an apartment, Bom Jardin has a take out window for their wonderful chicken dinners!
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Dec 26th, 2012, 10:47 AM
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I will be looking forward to your report! I have not been to Lisbon but want very much to go. Happy birthday and have a great trip!
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Dec 26th, 2012, 10:59 AM
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Thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes. Turning 50 is still going to suck, but it will suck considerably less on vacation!

Honestly, this is the best surprise gift I've ever received. The pressure's going to be on me next year, for her big day.
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Dec 26th, 2012, 11:03 AM
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Three more tips:

a) The beautiful cobble sidewalks of Lisbon are incredibly SLIPPERY, and a great many of them are rather steep. Even in dry weather they are slippery, and it only gets worse if it is rainy or foggy. Make sure the shoes you wear have excellent traction. You will notice that the sensible residents of Lisbon do not for one second put fashion ahead of safety. Pack your most sure-footed shoes.

b) Portuguese is not pronounced in a way you might guess, even if you know French, Spanish or Italian pronunciations. Many people in Lisbon (probably the majority) speak good English, but if you are headed someplace by taxi, or are buying tickets at a station, it is good to write down ahead of time your destination to show people. Also, don't be surprised if some of your attempts at ordering from a Portuguese menu are met with bewilderment. Pointing is sometimes the clearest way to get what you want. Service in Lisbon in my experience is endlessly patient and helpful.

And to add to something posted above: The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and the Modern Art Centre are two separate entities, in two quite separate buildings, inside Gulbenkian Park. I had no trouble finding the entrace to the Gulbenkian museum (I looked it up on Google before I went), but if you inadvertantly walk into the Modern Art Centre, it is 5 minute pleasant walk through a garden path to reach the entrance to the Gulbenkian Museum.

Here is a link with a clear layout of the park:

http://www.gulbenkian.pt/section9artId310langId2.html
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Dec 26th, 2012, 11:06 AM
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mr_go, the only thing that could top a round trip to Lisbon is a one-way trip to Lisbon
Parabéns on your birthday!
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Dec 26th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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Why was it a suprise? Were you booked to go to Timbuktu?
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Dec 26th, 2012, 01:21 PM
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Xircal: Why was it a suprise?

We usually plan these things well in advance. ms_go just sprang this one on me a couple days ago, and we're leaving on Tuesday. She made all the arrangements, even clearing the time off with my boss. It was a great surprise!


goldenautumn: Make sure the shoes you wear have excellent traction.

Thanks... I was just deciding between my "office shoes" and some Merrell walkers with knobby treads. I guess we have a winner.
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Dec 26th, 2012, 03:07 PM
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Mr_go, first of all, happy birthday to you.

You already received useful advices here. I would like to add some more recommendations:

Lisbon is renowned for decorations with beautiful tiles. You see them everywhere: on the houses on the streets, inside museums, palaces and churches. However, there are two splendid museums where you will find (my opinion) the most beautiful collections of tiles in the world:

1. Fronteira Palace
Largo Sao Domingos de Benfica ; go there by taxi. You will save time and the taxi is not expensive at all in Lisbon.
There are beautiful gardens with impressive tilework .
It is located in an old building (from 1640), there are splendid rooms with 17th and 18th century decorative tiles, frescoed panels and oil paintings.
Guided tours every half hour between 10:30AM and 12PM Mon-Sat; book in advace at (+351) 21 778 2023

2. Tile museum
Rua Madre de Deus 4; 10AM-6PM (Wed.-Sun.), 2PM-6PM (Tues.) (Closed Mondays)

There is a unique collection in the world, showing splendid tiles from 15th century till today. The splendor and opulence The chapel dedicated to St. Anthony is splendid.
The highlight of the museum is a blue and white composition of 1300 tiles, 23m length, of Lisbon's cityscape made in 1738, prior to the Great Earthquake, and reputedly the country's longest tile piece.

Go one evening to a restaurant whwrw there are Fado singers. This will be a nice experience. We where at Senhor Vino and like it.

Have a nice trip!
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