Lisbon – nobody told me it was all hills
My first impression of Lisbon is that its very hilly, as you can see from the photo below … (which quickly lead me to my next discovery, I am not as in-shape as I thought I was)
Luckily there are plenty of buses and trams to carry you up the fairly steep hills that weave through the city linking up the numerous plazas and a small (in comparison to London or New York) but functioning metro system that covers the main part of the city.
The tram shown below is called appropriately, the Hills Tracker Tour. Although not quite as steep an incline as that traveled by the two funiculars Elevador da Gloria (opened 1885) and Elevador de Bica.
There is also an elevator to take you between the Baixa neighbourhood and the Bairro Alto district. The Santa Justa Lift was inaugurated as one of the city’s public transport systems on 10 July 1902 and was called Elevador do Carmo (Carmo Lift). I decided I would take the ride in the evening to catch it when it was all lit up.
Almost a third of Portugal’s 10m population live in Lisbon, (the capital) a city that was virtually destroyed by the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, “the largest ever-recorded natural catastrophe in Europe“. Around 09:40 local time, on Saturday 1st November, a massive earthquake (which registered between 8.5 – 9 on the Richter scale) followed by fires and a tsunami devastated the city and surrounding areas.
Subsequently, although the city was rebuilt, the narrow twisting streets of the old city were no more and were replaced by the wide avenues modeled on Paris’ Champs-Élysées.
Notable sights of the more ancient style are Castelo de S.Jorge (hilltop Moorish castle) and Belem Tower (the Tower of Saint Vincent, a 16th-century fortification – the matching tower on the opposite bank of the River Tagus unfortunately did not survive the rigors of time).
The people are friendly, most speak good English and the prices are relatively not over-expensive. I did some sightseeing on the hop on – hop off yellow bus for 17 Euros and a ticket for the metro is 2 Euro (or 1.50 if you re-use the ticket). Incidentally the yellow bus ticket also covered the other public transport and the Santa Just Lift.
Lastly, I feel I should mention there was one new first (to me anyway), approached by several of the usual vendors selling their wares … souvenirs, sunglasses, Hashish .. wait what ?? Yes I now know what Hasish looks like in the flesh so to speak, however a polite ‘não obrigado’ saw them walk away without issue. Next stop – Seville, Spain.