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Lisbon, excursion through the city

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Friday 29 June, Lisbon, excursion through the city

There are only four of us and for a moment we are afraid the tour will be canceled, but the driver and the guide don't seem to bother. So it is almost a private tour. The city is build on 100 meters high hillsides and in the valleys in between. Lisbon is a mixture of large open squares, long avenues and parts where buildings are on top of another. After a big earthquake in 1755 a large part of the city was destroyed and it has been rebuild with many open spaces, to become the first modern and planned city of Europe.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, LisbonFirst we drive to Belem, a suburb of Lisbon, 7 km. west of the centre. From the profits of voyages of discovery that left from here (Vasco da Gama to India; Pedro Alvares Cabral to Brazil) this monastery was build about 1500, the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. The famous Portuguese manuelino architecture is clearly visible in this building and the whole district.
Torre de Belem, LisbonAlong the banks of the river Tagus more monuments can be found, like the Padrão dos Descombrimentos, a 52 metres high building which is a salute of honor to the exlorers. To the right the Torre the Belem, a fortress on a rocky island which had to protect the entrance to Lisbon. There are also some museums in this area.
From Belem we drive to the centre of Lisbon and the guide tells us about the history of the city. More about it on the information page on this website. The bus drives us up the hill, through narrow roads to the castle of São Jorge, so we don't have to climb.
Alfama area, LisbonInstead we walk the way back down through the narrow streets of the Alfama district. One can imagine being in the middle ages again. This is one of the few districts that survived the earthquake of 1755 and therefore never has been rebuild. But nowadays some restoration is very necessary. Many houses are supported by big trunks and steel.
The tour takes us throughout the city and sometimes we have a walk. At the end of the tour we visit the botanical gardens of Lisbon, the Lisboa Greenhouse.
Botanical garden, Lisbon Teije in the Lisboa GreenhouseWe get half an hour, too short to fully enjoy the sultry greenhouse and the beautiful vegetation, but we really like it. We don't know then, but are later told by fellow campers that Portugal has a lot of famous gardens. Well, this one surpassed our expectation.
Back on the camping we have a snack and a drink and we certainly need some rest. We can recommend this tour to see a lot of the city in a short time, but it is also tiring, especially with temperatures above 30°C. Good to have a swimming pool near by. At night we search the campsite for giant pine cones (20 cm. and bigger) of which some now decorate our house.

Saturday 30 June 2001, exploring Lisbon on our own

Praça da Comercio, LisbonToday we take the city bus from the campsite to the centre of town. The campsite is located in a large park, about 5 kilometers away from the centre. We will do our share of walking today, that is why we take the bus. We drop off at Rossio, the vivid centre of the city. When we start to walk towards the Tagus it is very evident how spacious this city is set up, with many pompous monuments and large squares. A great part of the centre, like square Rossio, is being renovated.
But we have seen enough monuments, today we are just going to walk around a bit and see what the city has to offer. We cross the city in all directions (and hills).
The Elevador de Santa Justa, Lisbon View on the centre of LisbonWith the Elevador the Santa Justa (to the right) we can only go up and down: the connection road to the district behind it is unreliable and therefore closed.
From the top of the elevatorhouse we have a nice view on the valley where the centre of Lisbon is situated and the hills on the other side with the castle. Back in the shopping street Teije is constantly bothered by drugsdealers, probabaly because of his long hair. When we threaten them to call the police they get angry but back away.
Trolley in Lisbon Swimming pool at the campsite, LisbonSo, instead of the elevator we take a trolley to climb the hill. Two trolleys that only go up and down. Must be boring after some time for the drivers...

After some well deserved breaks and some endemic food we have a clear impression of Lisbon, although one never can see enough of any city. But with 30°C we long for a swimming pool after walking for 6 hours. So back to the campsite we go, into the cool water.


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