“Sir! I had a steak with chocolate sauce! It was amazing!” That summed up Lisbon for many of us – it is both an ancient city (one of the oldest in Europe predating London, Paris and Rome) and a modern city, rich in history, culture, the arts and architecture that continually surprised and delighted us as we spent two glorious days there.
After we arrived at the right hotel – who knew that there were two Holiday Inn hotels within five blocks of each other – we then proceeded to our first tour.
One isn’t normally intrigued by a subway system, but Lisbon’s is noteworthy. It is very clean, well maintained, modern and efficient. There are four lines each with numerous stops. The walls at each stop have been designed in ceramic tiles by a different artist as you can see from the pictures below.
We soon arrived at the end of the Red Line which leads one up into to the Vasco De Gama Mall which serves as the entrance to a very large and modern waterfront, the Parque das Nachoes.
Following lunch we visited the aquarium, the Oceanario de Lisboa, the second largest in the world. On entry one is confronted by a two storey tank filled with all kinds of sea creatures in constant motion. It was mesmerizing and continued to enthrall as one would see it again and again as we made our way through the aquarium – and every time, there would be something new to see.
They have birds…
And cuddly creatures just chillin’…
Creatures of the deep…
And exotic fish that were simply captivating.
We made our way back into the centre of the old town for some free time to explore places like the waterfront square, Praca do Comercio. The archway was built to celebrate the reconstruction of Lisbon after a massive and devastating earthquake leveled much of the city on November 1, 1775.
Later the students were able to take the elevator that afforded everyone an opportunity to see Lisbon from above by dusk. From there they had time to have dinner and do some further exploring.
The next day, we were up and off early in the morning. This time, we were headed to an older part of the town that has undergone some renovation as well.
Our first stop was one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites that were on our itinerary. The Belem Tower built in the Middle Ages as part of the fortification that protected an entry to Lisbon via the Tagrus River. It was an important fortification from Lisbon from the time of the Age of Discoveries. There are many maritime motifs incorporated in the design of the walls and turrets.
Along the water from there we then visited the Padrao dos Descobrmentos or The Discoveries Monument which is a statue that commemorates and celebrates the many Portuguese sailors who set out discover the rest of the world.
The square in front of the monument features a map of the world depicting the main routes of the Portuguese explorers.
Following lunch, we visited the Jeronimos Monastery, a beautifully ornate building inside and out and that also incorporated maritime themes and motifs.
We then returned to the town centre to the Cathedral and to have some free time.
Here are some photos taken of the old town including one of the famous Tram 28 – a ‘must do’ if you ever visit Lisbon. (You will discover why once you do.)
We were treated to a traditional Portuguese meal at a Fado restaurant. Fado music is a traditional form of music in Portugal that remains popular today. One often does not need to understand the language to catch the sentiment of the song. There was lots of singing and playing…
And even some dancing.
After that a very weary group of students and teachers returned to the hotel in order to catch some sleep before we journeyed home to Lanciano. Many of us have vowed to return to Lisbon one day to continue our own discovery of this wonderful city.