Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lisbon and Surrounds

Just catching up. I find the siesta in Spain a good chance to do this. In Lisbon I was fairly busy all day travelling out and back and after dinner and a few wines is not the time to write.

I stayed 4 nights in Lisbon but spent Wednesday travelling by bus 150 km each way to the town of Evora, Thursday by train 25 km each way to Sintra and then on Friday 300 km south to Faro where I stayed the night and caught a bus the next afternoon to Seville, Spain.

Lisbon is built on hills and ancient trams rock and roll their way up the hills. The city  transport pass covered these as well as the modern metro system. There is a huge harbour crossed by 2 large bridges. The Vasco Da Gama bridge is 17 km long and the bus to Evora left over it and came back by the other higher but shorter bridge. I took a 2 and half hour ferry trip on the harbour.

There were more churches to visit but also views over the city. An area called Restauradores just 2 metro stops from my hotel had lots of restaurants catering for English and other Northern European types who like to eat early. Different from country towns and here in Spain where they look at you strangely if you ask for a meal menu before 8.30 pm.
I have included a photo (1) of the trams on a comparatively wide street for the hills and a view (2) of the city from the Castle with the Suspension Bridge called April 25th Bridge. I need to research why it was named after that important date and discovered the revolution in 1974 that  overthrew the right wing government was on April 25.

Evora is inland but not as hilly as I expected. I was intrigued that storks had built their nests on the top of most high tension electricity towers along the way. I climbed to the roof of the cathedral and there were Roman ruins and an aqueduct as well as pleasant gardens.

Sintra was more stunning. Although close to Lisbon, it was the summer retreat of the Royal family and has two large palaces and a ruined Moorish fort. The fort and one of the palaces was up above the town but thankfully a very crowded bus took the tourists most of the way up. There was still a climb involved. The Castelo dos Mouros (Photo 3) was built in the 9th century and is now an archaeological site. I climbed some of the ramparts but baulked at the very high ones. It clearly dominates the hill from the town below. It was then a climb up through some gardens to the Palacio National da Pena which was built in the mid 19th century and occupied by the royal family until they were removed in 1910. It is still used for State occasions. It is quite amazing in parts(Photo 4). The apartments are still kept as when the royal family left. I then returned down to the town for lunch and visited another palace, the Palacio National built in the 15th century but constantly updated. Many rooms were lavish including the Arabs’ Room (Photo 5) and large kitchens. Finally, in Sintra I caught another bus out to s Park originally built to Indian designs (Photo 6) by a succession of eccentric Englishmen but now owned and being restored by the Government. The 30 hectare garden contains many exotic species and paths and waterfalls. The bus took me back to the station for the train to Lisbon.

I left Lisbon after midday on Friday for Faro right down south. The train crosses the April 25 Bridge on a new deck hung under the road deck in 1999. There are many beach resorts around Faro and boats were leaving for bird watching tours  but as my bus for Seville left early the next afternoon  I just wandered around the town. Up the stairs of yet another cathedral and into a chapel made of the bones of the monks. I found the nesting storks interesting (there are 3 in the centre of photo 7).

1 comment:

Leonard said...

It´s great traveling along with you...Thanks Brian!