So wake up time this morning was 3 am at which point we discovered that a good chunk of our neighbourhood was still up and partying in the streets. It kind of sounded like a group of people singing and doing a parade around a few blocks as they would continually pass by the window. (A few days later we figure the partying was either due to it being Saturday night, or that Friday night was a giant national holiday of great importance and everybody probably had a long weekend). Needless to say our bodies had us wide awake from jetlag and our serenaders were stopping us from going back to sleep. Eventually at about 5 am the noise died down and we slept in peace and quiet, unfortunately until 10 am. The plan was to get up at 8, but we got a late start.
Eventually we were up and moving and ate our hostel breakfast 2 little half loaves of bread and some orange juice from the kitchen (we discovered later that there was tea, and cereal if you wanted, but missed that the first few mornings). Then we got some quick information from the desk staff about how to catch tram 28 to have a fun ride up to our starting point to do a bit of a walking tour through part of Lisbon.
We headed about 5 blocks up-hill from our hostel to catch tram 28 at a plaza. Problem was that the trams circle the plaza and one tram goes one way, and another goes the other direction. Ryan stared at the two signs for quite a while trying to figure out which one we wanted to take, particularly since they cost 2.75 Euros each. After much indecision a tram was picked and we waited until a mostly empty one came by so we could get some window seats.
The trams are these rickity old wooden trams that have a ton of character and we’re sure are only still operating as they are a huge tourist draw. The streets they run on are narrow, particularly when we hit part of the Alfama area. We had opened the windows so we could lean out and take pictures but you had to be very aware of what was coming up or you migght lose your head on the corner of a stone building. The trams also don’t move along at a nice slow touring speed, instead the drivers are hell bent on going as fast as possible. Lindsay compared it to Mr. Toads Wild Ride at Disneyland, I (Ryan) found it to be more roller coaster like, at least on the corners.
Part way through the ride we got stuck behind another tram that had apparently broken down. This becomes problematic when you’re attached to a track. After a few minutes the drivers managed to start the engine back up of the first one and then we were off again racing along playing a game of cat and mouse with large metal and wooden tranportation structures. Before we knew it we were at the end of the line, wich was a surprise to all of the passengers, as we thought it was a round trip ride, particularly considering the price. So we all disembarked and Lindsay and I tried to figure out where we were.
After some staring at the map in the book and some of the streets signs, (posted on the buildings, not the street usually) we determined that we were in Largo de Graca, exactly where we wanted to be to start our walking tour – what luck! We took a quick detour through a little market that was in the praca/plaza/square then started towards what we thought was view point #1 according to the Lonely Planet walking tour. Turns out it was actually #2, but either way it was a great view down over the lower part of Lisbon.
The view is right next to a church and the little shaded area has benches and tables and one of the food/drink kiosks that are in every praca where you can get some snacks and beverages, booze included (obviously, we are in Europe afterall). We happened to be there looking at the view while a guitar player/singer and a saxaphone player were playing a collection of jazz standards and popular medleys. It was a really nice time enjoying the view, using my tripod with the camera (yep, I dragged my tripod along, it is a heavy day for me each day with camera gear, but worth it for the nice pictures in the end), and listening to the music. Quickly checked out an art display that we might hit again on our last day and then started off to find the other view point.
In an attempt to get our bearings on the LP guides’ map we decided we were hungry and started looking for a cafe to eat at. We glanced down a very narrow street and saw some people sitting out on a patio so we headed that way. There was no room on the patio but inside was nearly empty so inside we went. The nice young girl working the place showed us the different “meals” you could order and so we picked one. We both got sopa (soup), 2 kinds of pastry/food things (ie: samosa and meat filled pastry) and a drink for around 5.50 Euro I believe, oh and coffee at the end, but we declined that. Pretty decent price for Lisbon we’re discovering quickly.
After lunch we judged that we were pretty close to the other view point so after a few quick turns down small streets and up one big hill we were there. It is almost parallel with the other one but a bit higher up and looking towards the castelo and the other view point. Again very nice view of the city where we were able to watch some folks closer up moving laundry in and out of their windows.
(FYI – the pictures I’m putting up are just from my tablet which I don’t take out very often, so most pictures are from our hostel/hotel rooms, I’ll put the real camera pictures up when I’m home)
On to the castle…