Senses are on high alert for the first 24 hours you’re in a new place. Lisbon is the place and the time is just up. Our usual plan of attack is to walk the neighbourhood of wherever we are staying. We did that last night and put in over 20km. That’s the benefit of starting before dawn, changing time zones so you get an extra hour and not stopping til after dark. We didn’t actually plan to walk for so long. We wandered until we were tired, then set the GPS to take us home by the shortest route. The only problem was that the GPS-Setter accidentally plugged in the location of the aqueduct across town that we intended to visit today! Let’s just say we almost got to see it last night, and when the mistake was noted, we were so tired it caused laughter rather than complaint. I may have grizzled momentarilly, however, when we turned a corner and were faced with climbing the hill that the funicular travels by day – there’s a reason they use a machine to move people up that hill! And so one of the first observations about Lisbon is made: it is hilly (and related to this fact, there are lots of stairs)
The very first conscious observation which grew stronger as the evening progressed is that this is a very cosmopolitan city. Walking down the street we passed all sorts of nationalities. There are Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Turkish, Nepali and Polynesian restaurants, as well as Portuguese ones. As for Portuguese establishments, there is a bar/pasteleria on every corner and three more between.
So if there is a bar on very corner, there is a monument or fountain in every square:
The city has a vibe quite like Berlin. I’m not sure if it’s the grand monuments or colourful graffiti everywhere or the street performers…
The scale of this city really is grand. When you are a top one of the seven hills its breadth is striking – it stretches for miles. When you are at ground level, you can’t help but notice the solid dimensions of the buildings lining wide avenues. And at the same time, narrow houses nestle together in narrow lanes. There are wide open spaces.. There is majesty. There is also shabby.
As we traipsed across the city today, we commented on how we are a good fit for each other – we both enjoy walking, neither of us minds walking a few kilometers to save a metro fare, and we both like to move slowly across a town to get a feel for it. We had read online that getting to the aqueduct is really tricky as not much public transport goes nearby. But when we looked on the map, we saw it was only about 4km from our hostel so we decided to walk. We wanted to check out a supermarket in the opposite direction first (we’re on the hunt for nice cheese to take home) so we did that too, increasing the distance somewhat! We didn’t mind. The aqueduct, built in the 1700s is a pretty impressive piece of construction:
Walking along the outside of the structure afforded great views of the city and river. Well worth doing if you’re ever in Lisbon! I can’t tell you if the water museum or the steam pumping station or the hydraulic engineering something-or-other are as worthwhile as we went for the simple entry that allowed access only to the aqueduct itself. I’m guessing you might need to be an engineer to enjoy the other options! We saved our money for more cheese to take home!