Warmer climate is here to stay for a while . Lisbon is the famous Harbor (Belem) where Vasco de Gamma sailed from on his adventures around the world , the first explorer to sail an exhibition from Europe to India.
This city has two Unesco sites , must see , the Jeronimos Monastery , and close by , the Tower of Belem .
We were fortunate to get good advice on exploring this city from good friend Bertrand , who had spent a few years working here at a hotel just outside the city .
Bertrand was very detailed on how to get the best out of the few days we had here , Noel had returned to Ireland for a family gathering , so I was exploring the city for the long bank holiday week end .
The cheapest and easiest way to get to see the majority of the city is to take the Tram 28 , from its commencement to last stop . Tram 15 is also very good but not as many stunning sights . Very cheap alternatives to taking those overhyped sightseeing buses that charges 20 euro plus ., tram only costing around one euro per trip .
The scenic alley ways , churches , old houses , and laundry hanging out of local residents windows are literally brushing off this century old tram as it saunters around the city . Make sure you get up early , I done this trip before 8am and had the whole tram to myself ,just a few locals hopping on and off going to work . Tram 28 commencement , can be found behind Hotel Mondial next to Rossio Square .
Alfama , this area was spared from the earthquake of 1755 , so it’s a village within the city , with buildings are hundreds of years old . Many of the city,s major attractions are around this area . Easy to walk , lots of hills and cobblestone streets as well as breathtaking buildings and churches etc . It is Alfama that inspired many Fado songs , and there are many new restaurants popping up in recent years ,to enjoy a performance of Fado , but most are high priced including dinner etc.
You don’t have to book a dinner to enjoy a Fado show , thanks to Bertrand’s advice , he suggested just book a performance after dinner , average pricing only 7 to 8 euro . Club de Fado is one of the most famous places , need to book in advance he said .
I ended up seeing a Fado show at Nicola Cafe , as Bertrand advised ,I turned up midway into the show , just a few glasses of wine charged .
Fado is a performance that if you are in Portugal you must experience!! . It is ironic that this music in a way is very apt to the current situation not only in Portugal but also in the economic climate we live and most countries we have visited . I thoroughly enjoyed the performance , of this Unesco listed intangible form of music . Although I,m no linguistic as most of you know my levels of Chinese after so many years in Asia , hearing the Fado , one can really feel the pain and sadness in these Portuguese songs of fate.
Belem , easy to get to, take tram or light rail 15 . Outskirts of the city , a great way to avoid the downtown busy streets . Visit the Monasterio Cathedral , Belem is also the original home , famous for egg tarts as we know in Taiwan or Hong Kong etc , and its the port ,where Vasco de Gammo embarked on his travels .
Portuguese egg tarts are called “Pasties” , you cannot come here and not enjoy a few . Nothing compared to what I have had in Asia .I recommend ” Pasties de Belem ” shop , around since 1837 , claims to be one of the original bakers .
Sunday they have a flea market in Belem ,a great way to browse the afternoon sunshine . Make sure to visit as well the Museu Coleção Berardo which is located in the Centro Cultural de Belém building , admission is free and they have an excellent collection of contemporary Art , as well as temporary exhibitions .
Other must do and must see during your visit , includes tasting Vino Verde wine , try any local restaurnts , dishes are varied ,seafood , sausages , tripe dishes and of course the special Goat cheese selections, with a small port .Food and beverages are economically priced , lunch or dinners can be got well under 10 euro . Breakfast culture is great , fresh expresso coffee and croissant for only 1.50 euro .
Lisbon , can be in your face sometimes , the drug dealers are everywhere in downtown , we counted 15 times being offered in one day . Economic crises has obliviously resulted in more residents begging on the street . All of that said , Lisbon is a safe city , welcoming locals and well worth it especially if on a budget . The city has a great history , and also many museums and exhibitions .
Later this week heading to the famous surfers beach in Ericea , 90 minutes outside Lisbon .