Tue 10 Nov - Lisbon to home

Going home. Not by helicopter but by plane. I'm writing this final post from Lisbon's International Airport and that will conclude this blog. 

Not much to report from this morning. Breakfast, pack up the last bits and pieces and then metro to the airport. Cost for metro 1.40€. Beat that Sydney or Melbourne. 
Metro is also clean, fast, efficient. I was at the airport in less than 30 minutes. 

My backpack got wrapped up in plastic. 
Red plastic that is. From the wrapping services at the airport. OK I should have taken a photo of it. The backpack looked pretty ridiculous but at least the straps are not hanging out in all directions. 

That's it. Boarding commences soon. 
Over and out from the Camino Frances blog. Done and dusted. 

Watch the Carlen Family Traveling Blog for more fun very soon. Next trip is almost sorted :-)

Mon 9 Nov - Lisbon R&R Day 3

Today was the last full day of my trip. I'm going home to Melbourne, Australia tomorrow Tuesday and arrive there 2 days later very early on Thursday. 

Today's theme for me was to explore the Lisbon ferries. Or 2 of the ferry routes anyway. 

Here is a partial overview of Lisbon's ferry system. There are more ferries routes further west. 
I took the metro down to Cais do Sodre (I take a wild stab in the dark here and assume that Cais do Sodre means South Quay). 

At Cais do Sodre, I bought return ferry tickets to Montijo as it was furthest away of the ferry destinations. Turnstiles galore. 
I had a few spare minutes before ferry departure so ... I had an espresso. Like any Portuguese would do. Perfecto. 
Afterwards and still before the ferry departed, I chatted with a Portuguese Securitas guard. 

He thought that Portugal was the best country in the world to live in. I just couldn't ask him for how many countries he had actually lived in. 

He spoke good English and I heard him saying a word or two in French as well. He claimed that Portuguese people can "speak any language". OK...

The Security guard also said that Portuguese people are hard working but they don't have brains. I heard something similar from a Spanish lady during the Camino. About Spanish people. Perhaps that is true. I can't really comment. 

The ferry from Cais do Sodre to Montijo was a catamaran. New and flash looking. 
Ha, the catamaran reminded me of, and no surprises here, the fast ferry service between Circular Quay and Manly in Sydney. Of course it did. 

Even the time the ferry ride took was similar, around 23 minutes. 
Views of Lisbon of as the ferry traveled east. 
There was no seating outside at the back of the ferry but the doors were unlocked so I went out. And stood there for quite a while. Trying not to slip as it was a bit wet there. 
Not quite the safety concerns here as in Australia. No gate / chain concerns. 

Note the Ponte de 25 Abril bridge in the background. We will have a closer look later at this sister bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  
The water in the Rio Tejo must be very shallow in a lot of places. Lots of sandbanks like the below. Some sandbanks were a lot bigger and some were real islands with buildings on them. 
Arrival in Montijo. Not much of interest there. A big parking area and public buses taking commuters elsewhere. So I exited the ferry and immediately went back onto it again. 
Arrival back in Cais do Sodre. It was difficult to get a picture of the whole catamaran. I was too close.
What's next? Well, I went back to the ticket machine and bought another ferry return ticket. This time to Cacilhas which is south across Rio Tejo. Short trip, goes all the time and ferries slightly more dated...
The ferry I took to Cacilhas had got an internal refurbishment, see below. The one I returned on later had not. 
Selfie time. I felt like a real Portuguese commuter. No, not really. 
And arrival in Cacilhas. 
It was not my original intention to wander up to Cristo Rei, Lisbon's version of Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer, but I'm glad I did. The walk through Cacilhas and Almeda were nice enough although not so photogenic. Suddenly, HE popped up behind some more elegant houses...
I had to include this innovative solution for drying clothes. Outside drying and on the side of your apartment as everybody seems to do here. This netting should prevent you from losing clothes due to strong winds. Or possibly theft as well. 
We are getting closer... HE is BIG!
And we arrived. OK, Cristo Rei is seriously tall. I read that the pedestal is 82 meters tall and Christ on top of that is another 28 meters. Of course, the whole monument is also on top of a hill. 
Fast forward 82 meters up. Yes, you can pay 4€ and take the elevator up to the viewing platform. The lift by the way was managed by a very stern looking elderly nun. 
The views from the platform of Cristo Rei are of course nothing short of spectacular. 

The Ponte 25 de Abril bridge looked even more like the Golden Gate Bridge from this angle. 
In the middle by the water somewhere is Cacilhas ferry terminal. Zoomed in. 
And zoomed out. This is looking east. 
Looking south. 
Looking west. 
And looking north again across Rio Tijo to Lisbon. Cristo Rei is casting a loooong shadow. 
I was surprised to note that there were very few tourists up here. It is a bit out of the way to get to Cristo Rei from Lisbon central but you can take a ferry and then a public bus so there are alternatives to walking. 

There were some punters below the statue so they may have been scared away by the height. It can't really be the 4€ cost for the elevator trip, can it?
A selfie through a security camera as I waiting for the lift to bring me down to earth again. 
Down again outside and another photo to show the sheer height of Cristo Rei. Pretty imposing. 
I considered taking the bus back to Cacilhas ferry terminal from Cristo Rei but why do that when you can walk. 

Interesting and well designed color coded signage in the area. I followed the red signs with Cristo Rei on them to arrive there. 
Back in Cacilhas and the now almost mandatory pedestrian mall that seem to exist in every Portuguese town. Time for...
...lunch. I ordered bacalhau again as it was part of Prato do Dia. This time I captured the dish with a photo before tucking in. 

Plenty of food, tasty and very good value for 7.90€. All this + dessert and coffee as well. 
A pic from just outside Cacilhas ferry terminal. Looked good with Ponte 25 de Abril bridge in the distance. 
Time to touch on my ticket for the return ride to Cais do Sodre. 
From Cais do Sodre, I wandered west along the riverfront for a while. A lot of deserted warehouses and old buildings in this part of riverfront Lisbon, but a good combined cycling / walking path.

I almost regretted not hiring a bike. Lisbon, despite its hills, seems to be quite cycle friendly in places. Surprisingly enough. 

A bit like San Francisco which I also found more cycle friendly than I thought it would be. 
This French registered delivery van seemed to have been converted into a campervan. Looked brilliant. I was impressed. 
I wandered back and out on the other eastern side of Cais do Sodre. I had been here before and I did remember the guy behind me in the picture below who had a bar in a boat. On the asphalt riverfront. With chairs and small tables outside. With excellent views west. 

Why not have a final Lisbon beer in the hot afternoon? So I did. 
I then took the metro from the adjacent Terreiro do Paço station back to Marquês de Pombal from where I walked back to Hotel Nacional. 

Time now was just after 5pm and I just couldn't be bothered going out again.

I probably sound like an old tired man now who don't go out much after dark. Fair enough. 

I don't really think that it is much fun to go out by myself at night, not even for a drink. I don't mind it at all during daylight hours. 

Besides, my bacalhau meal for lunch was so filling so I just wasn't hungry anyway. 

A bit of planning for tomorrow's flight, a bit of packing and before I knew it, time was up. 

Sun 8 Nov - Lisbon R&R Day 2

Sunday in a foreign city in a foreign land tend to be a visit to the park day if the weather is fair or visit to the museum day if it is not. Today's weather was very fine indeed so parks it shall be. 

Before exploring parks, I was keen to check out Lisbon's aqueduct called Aquedoto das Águas livres. I had seen the aqueduct from the train and it looked impressive from there. 

The aqueduct is not very far from Parque Eduardo VII, my local park just north of Marques de Pombal, which is a big roundabout and also my local metro station. I had not yet been inside the park. 

First, I walked past Estabelecimento Prisional de Lisboa, Lisbon Prison. There was a queue of people waiting outside, more opposite the prison in the shade, many of them black. I assume given that today is Sunday, we are talking prison visiting hours. 
I had to criss cross some hilly streets to get to the aqueduct. No surprises there. An old aqueduct points to an old neighborhood. Good photo opportunities along the way. 

The aqueduct Aquedoto das Águas livres itself was bit of a disappointment. It looked deserted, unused and you couldn't see very much of it at all. From underneath...
...same level...
...same level again. 
The other way where either the water came from or arrived to. 

Now it was all closed up and not used for anything at all from what I can tell.  
Walking back towards Parque Eduardo VII and I was passing a cafe. I thought that it was time for a mid morning break. 
I'm starting to develop some real fondness for espressos and natas. A very nice combination. I am beginning to understand the Mediterranean habit of small strong coffee on the go. It kind of works. 
Now we are in "my" local park Parque Eduardo VII. We are looking south through Marques de Pombal towards centre of town and Rio Tagus. 
Close up of the elaborate planting. Would take some effort to keep this nice and tidy. 
Parallel to the above, there are long promenades on both sides. 
Statue in Parque Eduardo VII. Hmmm, not sure about this one. 
On the northern side of Parque Eduardo VII is Jardim Amália Rodrigues and this lovely setup. A cafe is there opposite. I will be back. 
I continued walking on combined walking and bicycle paths through adjacent parkland. There were some lovely northerly views to be had. 
Even the aqueduct popped up in the distance. Looks impressive now but fades in comparison to the fantastic aqueduct in Segovia, Spain. 
It's interesting to see that the old USSR ideals are far from dead in Portugal. Note the logos on both of these billboards. And this is by no means unique. You see it in graffiti as well. 
This park is called Jardim da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and is a shrine to brutalist architecture. Grey concrete was the norm pretty much everywhere including footpaths. 
The amphitheater had also a predominant concrete appearance. However, it was a nice place to stop and relax for a while, which I did. I could see that people had brought books and sat there reading in the autumn warmth. Some were even napping there. 
I was soon back at Jardim Amália Rodrigues having completed walking a loop. It was time for... You guessed it. Coffee and nata. Americano this time. 

Perfect setting again and I sat there relaxing for a while. Again. Sounds like as much sitting as walking today but it wasn't really so. 
A bit later and a bit more wandering around, it was time for lunch. I stumbled onto an American style diner. Why not? I have had fish and seafood almost every day since I arrived in Portugal. 
Hmmm... Not sure about the name of the diner though. 
My burger arrived. What else do you order in a diner? 

While the burger and chips were perhaps not disasters, they were certainly not very good. I quickly ate up and left the Great American Disaster. It just didn't seem right to hang around in a place with that kind of name. 
Back at the hotel for a siesta and relaxation as time approached 3pm.
And would you believe it... I got so lazy and comfortable that I didn't go back out again. Another relaxing evening in the hotel room. Why not?