More thoughts on Lisbon, Portugal

No matter where you walk, you’re going uphill. I think the terrain transforms itself, and on your way back to where you started from, you’re somehow still walking uphill when it should be downhill.

If you are trying to go to Belem, you can take the train from Cais de Sodre heading towards Cascais. However not all trains to Cascais will stop at Belem and if that happens you will get a wonderful tour of the Lisbon suburbs. The station operators in the suburbs are not good at English (and I don’t blame them, since my Portuguese is non-existent). Trains coming back from Carcavelos also do not stop at Belem. At least not the one I was on. The better way to get to Belem from Cais de Sodre is to take the 714 bus or Tram 15.

Pastei de Belem is the “famous” café where egg tarts were supposedly invented. The egg tarts are definitely tasty there but it is hyper-full of tourists. The tour buses drop off loads of people there. For a more relaxed experience, go to any of the other cafes and eat at the counter. Much less hectic.

The modern art museum in the “Centro Cultural de Belem” is a must-see. Most engrossing modern art museum that I have been to. Warning – some of the exhibits can be quite disorienting and physically involve the viewer.

If you’re going to Alfama / Graca, take tram 28 up to the top of the hill and work your way down. Don’t be stupid like me and just start walking from the Baixa. The streets are a mishmash maze – and all uphill. No one likes a sweaty, panting tourist using the pews in St. Vincente as a resting spot.

Late Sep / early Oct brings perfect weather. 17 deg – 24 deg Celsius and sunny clear skies. Windy, so gets chilly at times.

Lisbon hasn’t gotten into the whole “smoking is bad for you” mindset.

If you walk alone at night, young men will offer to sell you cocaine and hashish. (I suppose this is true of any big city in the US as well – this does not happen, of course, in Singapore).

Anything cooked “Algarve” style means that it will be covered with shrimp (and something like tomato sauce). It’s unfortunate I ordered halibut Algarve-style and am allergic to shrimp.

I like the custom of waiters putting appetizers in front of you as soon as you sit down. If you don’t want it (and don’t want to pay for it), just wave it away. But nothing beats sitting down and having bread, cheese, or olives at the ready!

The walking paths in old Lisbon are all cobblestones. If you have a sprained ankle (like yours truly), that can start to wear you down fast.

I love Death Cab for Cutie’s “Cath…”


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