Park Life

Travels Without Vince

This is a first for me. When we travel in Vince I normally compose this drivel on my laptop or my iPad. I generally only use the phone to upload the day’s photos. We’re travelling with hand-luggage only for this quick break so last night I wore my thumbs down to stumps doing it all on my phone. I hope you appreciate the lengths I go to for you lot! To make things worse WordPress have just updated their editor so everything is in the wrong place or doesn’t work, and as I upgraded my phone a week or two ago all last night’s pics came out too big d’oh! I’ll try to adjust tonight’s down in size a bit, many apologies.

Today’s adventures began with our traditional er… custard tart breakfast, following which we boarded the Metro to the Estrela district to find a number 28 tram. The famous 28 route travels through all Lisbon’s best tourist areas and as a result can often be standing-room only. We thought we were being extra clever by getting out of the centre by train, then planning to board the tram before it got too busy on its way back to town. No such luck. It was like sardines in a tin when we squeezed on. I’d hate to try it in the heat of August.

The trip was still worth doing, just to admire the solid British workmanship of the trams. Lots of polished wood and brass fittings. It was almost like a funfair ride as it rattled its way up steep hills and round sharp bends. The drivers take no prisoners in the traffic either – it’s get out of the way, or else! 

We stayed on board all the way to St. George’s Castle – the Castello de São Jorge, saving us a long uphill walk. As you wander round the ramparts enjoying the views, it’s easy to imagine the Crusaders battling with the castle’s Moorish builders in 1147.

Our stroll downhill back into town through the Alfama district was a real eye-opener. Like our visit to Porto last year, we were treated to the other side of the city, not often exposed to the tourists. We wandered through tight alleyways with washing hanging from the windows, litter-strewn streets with run-down flats and past graffiti-covered stairways. We even had an offer of ‘best quality hashish, my friends’ eek! We passed.

Alfama street art

A sea-bass special menu del dia lunch break was followed by a number 737 bus trip to Lisbon’s main Cathedral – known local as the Sé. The Sé was built on the ruins of an Iron Age structure and excavations have revealed Roman, Islamic and Medieval contributions over the millennia. It was here that we discovered Lisbon’s patron saint is…. Saint Vincent – honest! You couldn’t make it up, go Vince! 

We paused on our arm-in-arm walk from the cathedral down to the river to listen to the buskers serenading passers-by with Beatles songs in the dying sunlight. It was lovely, and a rare romantic moment in which to enjoy the fabulous views across the city.

Sadly the romance didn’t last long – it was cocktail time! We enjoyed a sunset Caipirinha in the Praça do Comércio before buying a snack and ambling our way through the street entertainers looking for something more substantial to eat for our evening meal. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any pics of the puppeteers or fire-eaters as I was keeping my hands nice and warm by holding my chestnuts.

Our Big Day Out was rounded off back in the Edward VII park at the Christmas market. We fancied trying those €1 cherry liqueurs again but Gill noticed that a half bottle only cost €5, hmm. Even better, we haggled for a couple of plastic cups as well so we looked like Methadone Mick & his girlfriend pouring it out of a bottle in a paper bag. We must sound like a couple of alkies but they were only tiny measures – I promise! 

Drinking on a park bench…we’ve really hit rock bottom!

The prize for ‘Most Entertaining Mishap of the Trip’ has to be for the poor Portuguese family who sat opposite us on our picnic bench while we enjoyed our liqueurs. I’ve lost a bit of weight recently but probably not as much as I thought. As Gill and I stood up to leave, the combined weight of the three folks opposite made the bench tip up and sent them flying..! Luckily I sat back down again before they were unceremoniously dumped on the floor and I had to wait for one of them to come round to our side to re-balance things. They took it well 😀

We hope for a bit more highbrow Saturday entertainment with a trip to the art gallery, so have a lovely evening, and hopefully we’ll chat again later tomorrow. 

Another cocktail-hour sunset
Castle of St. George

The Sé
The business end of the tram
…and more Christmas lights!

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