jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 21 [19 Feb 09] – Lisbon

Posted in Lisbon by jn82 on February 20, 2009

Got up pretty early for our free breakfast at the hotel (back to hostels after this till the next smaller city), and then went to Coimbra-a to catch the 8.37am connecting regional train to Coimbra-b for the scheduled 8.45am Alfa Pendular (AP) 120 to Lisbon. The journey was supposed to be from 8.37am – 8.41am, but due to some mechanical issue with the train, it finally left Coimbra-a only at 8.50am! There were lots of worried looks, including mine. I remember the AP 120 only getting into Coimbra-b around 8.50am+ the day before, so hopefully it would be late once again.

A train similar to this one brought us from Coimbra-a to Coimbra-b.

Thank goodness when we reached Coimbra-b, the AP 120 had just stopped and passengers were getting on it. We all flew off the regional train onto the AP 120. What a relief! We boarded into carriage five (which was directly opposite where our regional train carriage was) so as to made sure we got on the train, although we had seats in carriage 1, so we had to pass four carriages worth of passengers to reach our seats finally. The 1hr 45min train ride to Lisbon was pretty uneventful and I had a nice nap along the way.

Upon reaching Lisbon and after into the hostel, the first stop of the day was to Castelo de São Jorge (Castle of São Jorge), which is probably the main tourist destination in downtown Lisbon. As every other tourist site in Portugal so far, there was not much information on the background of the castle, nor explanations along the way, so all we did is just walk around and admire this beautiful castle and the view it provided of Lisbon city. The Wikipedia link is probably the best English explanation and history available.

Outside of the castle.

View from one of the turrets.

View out the front of the castle.

Castle walls.

Ahhhh Portugal…

After the castle, we headed to the Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral), the oldest church in the city having been around since the 12th century (after surviving many earthquakes).

Sé de Lisboa.

Pipe organ.

Apart from the cathedral itself, there was also a gothic cloister to explore.

Cloister.

Ancient Roman and Islamic ruins of buildings which were leveled to build the cloister in the 12th century.

Went back to the hostel after this for a short rest and a few beers, then headed to Bairro Alto district for a late dinner and some Fado. Fado is a form of music characterised by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor. There are two main varieties of Fado, namely those of the cities of Lisbon and Coimbra. The Lisbon style is the most popular, while Coimbra’s is the more refined style. Modern fado is popular in Portugal, and has produced many renowned musicians. We had dinner at this Fado place along Rua do Diário de Notícias called Adega do Ribatejo, where the prices were more than we were used to paying for a meal, but not extremely expensive. It was a very enjoyable evening with very good singing and soaking in the local culture and cuisine. After a two hour long dinner and two sets of Fado performed by 4 singers (including one of the kitchen staff!), it was time to head back.

On the whole I reckon Lisbon feels safer than Porto at night, which is not what I expected, although one dude did try to sell be cocaine and hash in one of the back streets on the way to dinner. He did not try to mug me though.

Link to gallery of today’s pictures available here.

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