2016 European Tour Days 1-2: Lisbon

A two-day start considering only a couple hours fitful sleep on the plane overnight. We flew out of SFO Sunday morning, changed in Philadelphia, and landed Lisbon about 9am local time (1am West Coast time) on Monday. (I read Ian McEwan’s NUTSHELL on the plane; clever and trenchant. Parts I’ll quote here later.) Clear and sunny. Disembarked down steps on the tarmac; a tram ride; an hour’s lengthy line through passport control; then a taxi into the crowded city center. We’re in a Bessa Hotel on the main avenue, Liberdade, a hotel recently remodeled, very chic and high-tech past the point of convenience — it took us repeated attempts to figure out how to control the temperature in the room.

Lisbon impressions: cobblestone streets and sidewalks everywhere. Sunny and warm. This broad avenue, to the NW of city center, is a transition from tourist places to the south and high-end shopping to the north (Gucci, Versace, Prada, etc. shops a few blocks from our hotel). Pedestrian traffic a mix of office workers, lady shoppers, and tourists, where the heavyset ones in shorts with cameras around their necks seem to be the Americans. French, German tourists; only a few Asians. The locals smoke a lot. Most everyone understands at least a little English.

Restaurants near the hotel didn’t open for lunch until 12:30. We had a nice meal at Ad Lib — including Entrecôte, a cut of beef that seems to be on every menu here, along with cod.

Then a one-hour nap, to tide us over.

Then walking to the river, through the tourist streets, to the recently renovated riverfront, where the cruise ships dock, and alongside the huge Praça do Comércio (Wikipedia has a good overhead photo), a city square with a huge memorial statue in the middle, surrounded by government buildings.

From there we strolled west, into the setting sun, views of a Golden Gate-like bridge in the distance, and the Cristo-Rei monument on the southern bank of the Tagus River (resembling the iconic Rio de Janeiro monument), until we reached the Mercado da Ribeira, a huge indoor market/food court, full of booths selling seafood and Portuguese specialties and sweets, and even cocktails from a central stand. We had tapas and oysters and a glass of wine.

Then back north, up the Rua do Alecrim, topping a hill and skirting the trendy Bairro Alto district (maybe we’ll get back there tonight), until we walked down a descending tram path back to our Avenida. Another little rest, then out again, determined to stay awake to the current day/night schedule, to hunt down a power converter (the hotel was out), and dine at a tourist place for clams and octopus.

21442 steps on the pedometer from our first full day.

Then we went to sleep at 8:30 and slept nearly 12 hours.

Today there is a castle looming on a nearby hill I think we need to check out.

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