First Impressions of Lisbon

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When we arrived in Lisbon at 4 pm, it was 26°C, a welcome change from Paris. We walked from our home exchange on the western tip of Barrio Alto down to the Tagus and back to get a feel of the city. Here are my first impressions. Very dilapidated. Many outdoor cafés. Some stunning views. Tiles (azulejos) everywhere. Very strong light. A steep climb back home!

I love these half shutters and tiles
I love these half shutters and tiles
One of many outdoor cafés - there were three or four in this park alone
One of many outdoor cafés – there were three or four in this park alone
I love the sudden views you come across
Fountain on the left, view of the Tagus in the background and bougainvillea on the right
The contrast between sun and shade was striking
The contrast between sun and shade is striking and the view of the city grandiose
The bougainvillea is everywhere and reminds me of North Queensland where it blooms in winter
The bougainvillea is everywhere and reminds me of North Queensland where it blooms in winter
This stunning view of the castle was just after the bougainvillea
This sweeping view of the castle was just after the bougainvillea
There are two fountains in this very large square but only one is working
There are two fountains in this very large square but only one was working when we visited
Commerce Square fronting onto the Tagus River
Commerce Square fronting onto the Tagus River
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20 thoughts on “First Impressions of Lisbon”

  1. Nice photos!
    Just an update: Both fountains on Rossio Square are working. The other one must have been undergoing some kind of maintenance when you passed by.

    1. Thanks. I’ll have to go back and see! Any particular suggestions for places to go to or see? Today, we went to the cathedral and wandered around the Alfama – mostly in the rain!

      1. This wet and stormy weather in September is very unusual for Lisbon! But have you gone to the eastern district Parque das Nações? It’s on the Oriente stop of the Metro. It’s mostly famous for the Oceanarium but there’s also some nice contemporary architecture and public art, and nice waterfront promenade:

        Alternatively, on the opposite side of the city, there’s the Belem district, where all the main landmarks like the Belem Tower and the monastery are found. If it’s raining, head up the hill from there and visit the royal palace of Ajuda. And the Coaches Museum is also nice for a rainy day, as is the Berardo Museum nearby if you like modern art.

        Finally, there’s the trendy Principe Real district, with some nice cafes and shops. Don’t miss the monumental Embaixada concept store (another spot to escape the rain):

        Tomorrow (Thursday) is also Vogue Fashion’s Night Out, where shops in the Chiado district and Avenida da Liberdade will host special events starting at 7pm until 11pm.

        Have a good time.

    1. Thanks, William. Yes, I have been following the same blog recently and now I now why so many of his shots shows delapidation!

  2. Haven’t been to Lisbon for many many years. Back then it was still a dictatorship and sadly very run down. Main squares were then car parks and buildings in great need of repair and restoration. People looked very poor and depressed. Loved the tiles and the parks. We camped in an enormous park in a kind of forest (don’t remember the name) – but on the weekend discovered that quite a few locals suddenly took to their tents. We thought we’d camped in a nice quiet area. There was only one large tent all closed up quite some distance from ours. On the Friday afternoon when we returned from sightseeing discovered that it had been opened up and smaller tents put up all around our tent. They were the utilities and servants’ tents. There seemed to be heaps of servants, cooks and maids and drivers. The owners (must have been important people in the regime of the time) complained to us about our tent being there. Apparently they normally occupied the whole of this space most fine weekends. In the evening a huge dining table with lamps and candles and silver service was set up under the trees. The servants brought them several courses and different wines. They were also very noisy and played music v loudly. It was quite an experience.
    Have a great time in Lisbon. Sorry to hear the house is disappointing. Best wishes, Pamela

    1. Thank you! Because of our cycling I don’t seem to be having too many problems with the hills – but we’ve started taking the bus and tram as well!

  3. Rosemary,we love Lisbon and I hope you also will enjoy!Don’t miss to see the unusual architecture of “Gare do Oriente” from the famous Spanish arch.Santiago Calatrava.Also see the interesting old gare “Rossio”,there was a train to the town of Sintra and if you have a time to visit,please go to “Palacio da Pena”,I find it fun.
    Do you plan to visit Porto?There was a good Bus connection .Different town,picturesque and I remember a Fado concert there and our dinner with a glass of Porto wine.Great time,two years ago…
    Have a good time,you too, and don’t miss to drink “Ginjinha” and eat a local cookie for me,please…

    1. Thank you, Anna, for all those suggestions. We’ve added them to our list. We will go to Porto on another occasion I hope. I’ll have a drink of ginjinha and have a local patel for you!

      1. Yes, do go to Sintra –

        It can be reached by train from Rossio station or you may go on a tour which is often the best way to cover most of the palaces in one day.

        An easy train ride from Cais do Sodré station also takes you to Cascais for a day by the sea!

        And if you’re enjoying the tiled art, don’t miss the Museu do Azulejo, the tile museum. It’s a little away from the center, you should take the bus or taxi, but it’s well worth a visit, set in a magnificent old convent –

        1. We had a lovely day at Sintra. Thank you for the information. We are planning to visit the Museu do Azulejo tomorrow. I wondered if you had a fado restaurant to suggest that isn’t full of tourists.

          1. Unfortunately most Fado places are now always full of tourists and are quite expensive. But you do still see plenty of locals, and some places have kept their authenticity. I say avoid most of the Fado places in Bairro Alto, especially those that include folklore. That means it’s for tourists. I recommend “Sr. vinho” in the neighbourhood of Lapa. It’s a little expensive, but all of them are, and you must remember that you’re paying for food, service, and show. Most of the performers at Sr. Vinho are professionals, and it’s even owned by a well-known singer. Take a look at the website:

            As for the tile museum, it used to be free on Sundays until 2PM, but that has recently changed. It’s now only free on the first Sunday of the month, all day.

            If you’re staying for a few more days, you may also want to check out the bar of the Port Wine Institute:

          2. Thank you for your suggestions. I’ll take a look. We only have until Tuesday evening so we’ll see what we can fit in.

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