It took about ninety minutes to get from Evora to Lisbon, and once at the bus station the nearest metro was a short walk. We bought a couple of metro cards, loaded them with euros, then headed into the city center.
We came out of the metro to street level and felt that familiar disorientation of popping into the middle of a new place. Your eyes are guided by what they see not what you expect. But the disorientation recedes soon enough, maybe too soon.
The center of Lisbon is the Baixa, which runs between the Paraca do Comercio, a giant square on the waterfront, and the Teatro Nacional, which is adjacent to a couple of large squares. (This is also the area rebuilt after the great earthquake of 1755.) We got off the metro at Baixa-Chiado, near the middle of the middle, and it was just a few minutes walk to our apartment.
The Lisbon Short Stay Apartments Baixa (on Rua dos Sapateiros 158) checks the location box. And as it turned out, it checks a lot of boxes. The friendly receptionist welcomed us in a room that had a Halloween theme laid over the hotel's signature bold theme. We were offered port to drink and pastry to eat while we did the needful. The unconventional decorating scheme flowed down the hallways with wall-length mirrors, big art, and bold color choices. I peeked into another room, it was keep-me-awake highlighter yellow. Our apartment was a small one-bedroom with kitchenette and dinette. A corner unit on the top floor with five windows looking out to the narrow street and adjacent buildings. A bit of construction noise came thru which I remind myself is a good thing, evidence of growth and maintenance. Our room was the one color I wouldn't choose, black. So black you couldn't find the tv hanging on the wall or the clothes in the closet because the closet was all black and lit by a small lamp that cycled through the color wheel as you stood there. Kinda fun, kinda annoying.
We ate Indian for dinner then wandered the narrow streets that run between the castle and the water. Lots of cafes, lots of people out enjoying the beautiful evening in what appears to be an interesting city.
After breakfast at cafe Ferrari we hiked up the hill to our east where we spent the morning exploring the remains of Castelo de S. Jorge, the 11th century Moorish castle that overlooks the city and the water. It's pretty well preserved and worth seeing, though not nearly as interesting as Marvao's castle.
From the castle we wandered the streets that lead down to the water then we headed west and explored the Chiado and the Bairro Alto neighborhoods. They offered charming streets with cafes, roasted chestnuts, and street musicians.
Our last day in Lisbon was the anniversary of the great 1755 earthquake that devastated the city and was felt over much of the Iberian peninsula. Seems like wherever you go buildings are dated as to whether they survived the temblor or were rebuilt as a result.
It was a rainy morning. For breakfast we were back at cafe Ferrari then we walked to a ceramics shop. Next we metro'ed to Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, which featured live music in addition to art.
The weather improved. Lunch was blackened pork and wine at a neighborhood cafe. Then I walked along the Glria funicular line down to the river, past the wonderful Mercado da Ribeira, then back to the apartment.
Along the way I got a look at the 25th of April bridge. It resembles San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge in color but its design more closely matches the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge as it was constructed by the builders responsible for this other Bay-area bridge.
Originally named for Portugal's right-wing dictator, Antonio Salazar, after Portugal's 1974 revolution residents who supported the revolution started calling the bridge the 25th of April bridge to celebrate the change in power in that date. Citizens loyal to Salazar continued to call it the Salazar bridge while those who didn't want their politics known called it "the bridge over the river".
If I'd known of the Mercado da Ribeira we would've eaten there every night. Food, atmosphere, prices, all are very good. I tried Lisbon's signature liquor, Ginja, a cherry liquor. Dinner was salmon on glass noodles with a sweet chili sauce. The salmon tasted soft as butter, barely cooked, cool and delicious. Less than 10.
I've had a great trip and Lisbon is as good as any as a last stop. It's a fine place to visit and I know I've barely scratched the surface. Lisbon reminded me of San Francisco in its hills and crooked streets and streetcars, though it is a city with a lot more history.
I'll say that a good time was had by both of us. Spain and Portugal have a lot to offer and I'd gladly return.
I like this graffittied Lisbon cable car. The way it maintains a vertical profile despite the slope. The way it slots into the spaces between buildings, all of which share a similar sharp, vertical profile. I even like the graffitti; so much I drained all the other colors away.