Fri 6 Nov - Faro to Lisbon

Time for the big smoke. The last stop on my European journey before I go home.

So just before 8am, i was at Faro train station for the app 3 1/2 hour train ride to Lisbon (or Lisboa as the Portuguese say).  
Fast forward after an uneventful train journey to the Saldanha metro station in Lisbon. 
The Lisbon metro system is not far reaching, but the trains and stations were nice. I could see no graffiti at all although it doubtless exists. 
I stayed at this place Hotel Nacional and although it is rated 3 stars and looks OK from the street at night, it can definitely be described as faded glory. Nothing flash inside of there. 
I just had to include this picture of the bathroom design... Or lack thereof...
After check in and a trip to the local mini mercado, I set out for a wander and a bit to eat. I found it at this place along the busy Av. da Liberdade. No worries, there were lots of eating places mixed with the traffic, but also trees aplenty. 
The restaurant had dourado grelhado, grilled silver bream, as part of dish for the day. That's what I had in Ferragudo and that was very tasty so I tried it again. 
Not as fresh and tasty as then but very good nevertheless. I'm looking pleased. 
After lunch, I continued my walk towards the centre and stumbled onto one of the wallet farms I.e. pickpocket havens. One of the 3 old tramlines that still criss cross Lisbon. 
I was loosely walking towards Praça Luis de Camões which is from where the Chillout Free Walking Tour starts. I was planning to walk that on Saturday. 

On that square, haircuts and shaves were happening. I couldn't figure out for what but...
...there was a poster with different hairstyles as if a punter could choose. 
To my amazement, coincidentally the time was just a few minutes before 3pm. There a two daily walking tours, at 10am and, you guessed it, 3pm. So I asked the guide if i could join in which of course I could. More tips. Here is the guide. 
No, I can't recall why he touched his nose like that either so I include a second photo which makes him more justice. He was a very expressive guy, with good English and great stories. 
The guide, I think his name was Noun or something similar, took us through 3 Lisbon neighborhoods. First Bairro Alto / Chirrado, the bohemian district. 

Noun pointed out this particular church, Igreja de São Roque, and asked us to quickly check out the inside. Why? Because the church was very elaborate inside and had more gold than any other church I have ever been to. 
At Comando Geral, the military headquarters, things were pretty relaxed. Two booths for armed guards but only one there. The guard initially stood at the right booth, but workmen needed access to it so he moved to the left booth.  
Down at Praça do Comércio, in the Baixa district of Lisbon, the sun started to set. This is the big square by the river Tagus where the Royal palace stood until that devastating earthquake in 1755. 
Our guide spent some time explaining this statue of the last king of Portugal, which has been a republic since after that earthquake. 

The king, instead of overseeing the rebuild of Lisbon, moved to Rio de Janeiro and "governed" Portugal from there. That didn't go well with the Portuguese people so so bye bye monarchy. 

They raised this statue later to mock that king. It is apparently filled with symbolism. No crown but something waverly ridiculous. The king looks out away from the city and towards Brazil. Even the horse is afraid. 

There are snakes at the foot of the rest of the statue. Apparently that is to detract birds, in particular pigeons. And according to our guide, it works. 
By the way, our walking group was huge. More punters arrived after me and I would guess between 30 and 40 all up. It did make it hard to hear everything the guide said. 
This interesting looking building is called Casa dos Bicos and is now a museum dedicated to Portugal's only Nobel price winner (literature), Jose Saramago's life. 
The tour then continued into the Alfama neighborhood and I here take the liberty of coping an overview from Tripadvisor: 

"The Alfama (Portuguese pronunciation: [aɫˈfɐmɐ]) is the oldest district of Lisbon, spreading on the slope between the São Jorge Castle and the Tejo river. Its name comes from the Arabic Al-hamma, meaning "hot fountains" or "baths" (the name "Alfama" could also be derived from the Arabic word Alfamm, meaning the "mouth" in Arabic. It is pronounced variously depending on the location of the word in a sentence). The district includes the freguesias (parishes) of São Miguel, Santo Estêvão, São Vicente de Fora and part of the two streets, "Freguesia da Sé: Rua do Barão" and "Rua São João da Praça". It contains many important historical attractions, as well as an abundance of Fado bars and restaurants."

Case in point. This little square had hot baths in its days (a fountain is still running water), was built by the Moors. It is now called Rua da Judaria since after the Moors were thrown out, this was a Jewish neighborhood. 
The narrow lanes of Alfama provide for some shadowy photography in the dark. 
The tour finished here, at a little modest square that the Guide said all Lisbon residents knew about. And that was because of its name. 
Jardim de Pichas Murchas means literally "Garden of wilted cocks" (check it out!!). 
The background to the little square's name is that there used to the benches and tables there and old men used to congregate to play games and chat. Some comedian one night created a sign in the city style with the "new name" and put it up. For some reason, the city council thought that it was funny and left the sign there. 

Needless to say, the old men moved elsewhere because who wants to hang around at such a place. The council subsequently took away the tables and benches but the name stood. 

Great story and ending to an excellent tour. I need to return and check out many of the places that we passed. 

I wandered home after the tour, taking a few night pics along the way as the night life began. 
Rua Augusta is a pedestrian mall north from opposite Praça Do Comércio, you can see the statue again in the distance above. It became increasingly touristy as I walked through it so no more pictures after this last one. 
Back at Hotel Nacional around 8.30pm pretty tired at what seemed like a long day. 

No comments:

Post a Comment