From the quite town of Nazaré to big city Lisbon is quite a shift. In a little over an hour we drove though small farm towns and picturesque villages to the bustling metropolis of Portugal’s largest city. Lisbon is a fine city packed with history, fine food and interesting cultural sights that require more than a two day visit (as we learned).
As DUS will tell you, I like trolley rides and Lisbon rivals San Francisco for its unique and fun modes of public transportation. Unfortunately, like in SF, Lisbon trolleys are very popular and unless you want to do your best Garfield in the car window impression, avoid Tram 40 and take the less travelled and shorter Tram 28 that takes around the Alfama district.
The Alfama is Lisbon’s historic old town and is a confusing maze of small streets, odd shaped building and home of the “famous” Fado music. We attended a Fado show and found the music to be quite soulful and genuine. Many of the songs are about resignation/longing and the singers use a lot of emotion in their performance. I thought the show was quite good but DUS had a giggle attack during one of the singers and almost had to be excused 🙂
The Bairro Alto which opposite the old town (in both geography and feel) is a fun, well-structured neighborhood filled with hip restaurants, trendy bars and the pretentious Port and Douro Wines Institute. If I were a young backpacker or college student, the Bairro Alto would be a top destination to visit or live. We found the vibe to be fun and welcoming motivating us to think about planning our next trip to Lisbon.
The city of Lisbon and country of Portugal was one of our best vacation destinations in Europe. We found the people of Portugal to be extremely hospitable (probably the best in Europe) and for that reason alone we would travel back. It’s funny how much the “feeling” from people affect your travels in Europe. The Scandinavians are often a bit cold and calculated; Germans hard and to the point; Brits are clever and witty; French are either ostentatious or aloof; Greeks are passionate and insightful; Italians have perfected “vivere la vita.” And the Portuguese…? Well, they are welcoming, down to earth and friendly. We found that to be a refreshing and slightly unexpected element of our two week trip in Portugal.