Thursday, June 14, 2018

Surprise at every turn in Lisbon


Sat 9th of June
Beautiful day on the riverfront in Lisbon.  


Rock artist.
We decided to catch the train to Lisbon. We loved it the last time we were there in 2009. It couldn’t be easier to get there from Cascais: €5 each round trip for a 45 minute ride. Not bad, along the coast, viewing the beaches and coast walkway. There is a lot of graffiti and it appeared that some of the neighbourhoods along the route are a bit rough. A coastal clean-up is in order.

It was bright, sunny and vibrant in Lisbon. There was a regatta underway and the boats were battling it out in a stiff breeze. Lots happening on the street. We walked down to the main avenue and then walked up the street with throngs of tourists. I wanted to get off the main drag so when we saw the sightseeing tower I remembered, we went up that street. But the queue to go up the tower was long and we didn’t want to wait. So we walked up the stairs, and then turned right onto a square with a central statue. We turned again and waked up some stairs to a restaurant with a brilliant view over the city. An American was busking badly. We had sangria, octopus salad, and calamari. The view was fabulous and Lisbon is a beautiful city. 

Lounge lizards.
From there, we continued up and up and up the stairway avenida. Restaurant after restaurant on the stairway to heaven had amazing views. When we got to the top, we heard an American say, “Turn left here. Believe me it will have been worth it.” So we did the same.

We arrived at signs that directed to a church ruin. We thought that would be nice to see. We paid the fee and walked through the door into a most amazing space. The Church of Santa Maria do Carmo, founded in 1389 by D. Nuno Alvarez Pereira, had been the most lavish building in Portugal at one time. But the earthquake of 1755 that destroyed so much of the city destroyed this magnificent Gothic building and a subsequent fire took care of all of the interior. It is now Lisbon’s first archaeological museum. Aside from the tombs of queens and kings, and treasures plundered from the new world, there is an Egyptian mummy and two Inca child mummies from Peru (note: the latter was rather disturbing to us).

Regatta in full swing.
When we were done, we wandered past the back of the abbey, up some steps and found ourselves at the viewing platform we had not wanted to queue for. The queue was for the elevator to the top, not for the platform itself. For €1.50 each, we walked up the spiral staircase to the top of Lisbon and the views were spectacular. Perfect day. Not over yet. We took lots of photos then decided a coffee was in order.

The main 'gate' into the city
We started to walk down the stairway past an interesting platform bar at the base of the abbey where scores of people were sunning themselves on lounge chairs like lizards. You could see them all over the city in rooftop bars in niches throughout. Very interesting. Suddenly, the stairs ran out and there was an elevator. It had no buttons and no indicator for stops. We got on, and it took us down to exit in a tiny jewellery shop across from the shoe store where I had tried on a pair of espadrilles. There were no signs. It was a secret elevator for those in the know. And now so do you.

Ah, but there’s more. We had coffee and the traditional custard cakes called bollo at a pastelleria on the main drag, then started walking toward the train when we heard music and a man shouting. I said, “Parade!” Alex said, “Let’s go.” So we walked down and met the parade. It was a ‘March for Jesus’ and they had a huge mobile truck with music blaring and guys at the top taking turns inciting the crowd. Everyone was dancing down the street with red and green balloons and placards about ‘Jesus Saves’. Alex misread one as "Jesus shaves". It was infectious and we tagged along. When they reached the main plaza, they stopped the truck, immediately dismantled the signage, and told the people to disperse. Alex said, “If they did Church service like this in Ireland, the churches would be packed.” Amen.

A bride mime
We continued toward the train station and, where they had built a big stage that morning, someone was testing the PA system. One two, one two. Boring. Suddenly, a band burst into action – large brass section, guitars, bass, drums, more percussion, a singer and a backup. It was their sound test and they were doing one of the numbers from the set they had planned for the evening show. We got a private showing and it was great. Portuguese-Brazilian-African* rhythms and you just had to dance along. When the engineers were happy, the music stopped and we got on our train back home.

It had been a fine day. A very fine day indeed.



Lovely view from our restaurant

Buskers everywhere

Sangria all gone.

Heavy Brazilian influence in Portugal

Beautiful architecture

Squares and eateries everywhere

Purple trees in flower

The entrance to the church ruin is unassuming

The interior tells a different story

Beautiful chandelier and amazing stone ceiling

Fancy tombs

Whimsical decorations on some eternal resting stones

Medieval statues

Treasures plundered from Mexico and South America

Finds and photos from the excavations

Amazing collections of ancient artifacts

View from the platform

The back of the church ruins from the platform

Pretty city

Fort on the hill. Need to visit next.

The viewing platform 

The secret unmarked elevator across from the Ale-Hop shop

The main street and gates from inside

Man playing beautiful rendition of Halleluia on a saw
Pirate mime almost shot me for taking his picture without paying

March for Jesus parade

Cheers, music and prayers on the streets 

Leading the parade from a monster bus

Bandstand in the square

Awesome fusion music in a private concert

*They Must Be Crazy – A new afrobeat band, based in Lisbon, consisting of Portuguese and Angolan musicians. The sounds range from afrobeat to afro-funk, with Fela Kuti- inspired influences from West Africa.


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