Yes, folks, it’s true! Much as we loved Seville, we gotta say that Lisbon surpassed all expectations and has now ousted it as our Official Favourite City (so far!). From our uber quiet(ish) Bird Sanctuary sleepy spot just outside the sprawling (and non-too pretty) city of Setúbal, we headed for the bright lights of Portugal’s capital – but not before Roy took advantage of the good weather and, armed with a bucket of hot water and detergent, ascended to the dizzying heights of Sebo’s roof (through the rooflight, since we are most definitely NOT in possession of a set of ladders-one of the few things we DIDN’T bring!) to scrub the bird poop and associated other cr*p off the rooflights and solar panel…oh the joys of it!
After a job well done, we headed north and landed in our chosen cheapie parking spot in Cacilhas on the southern bank of the Rio Tejo (Tagus to you and !) – within a 2 minute walk of the Transtejo ferry straight into Lisboa – at lunchtime on Friday. Negotiating the car park entrance was somewhat tricky but, hey, at the advertised price of €3.50/24 hours and with no overnight restrictions, we’ll get in somehow! We duly pulled the ticket, up went the barrier and, with a degree of skilful manoevring that his Da would’ve been proud of, Roy got us parked up in a nice wee spot facing the river.
After a quick lunch, we had a meander around the locality and found a very helpful lady in Tourist Info who provided us with a map of the area and a tip as to how to travel cheaply in Lisbon i.e. ask at the ferry office for a “Via Viagem Zapping” card (the “zapping” bit being crucial, apparently!) . Basically, it works like an Oyster card in London – buy the card for 50c, then load it up with a minimum of €3 to get ferry crossings for €1.20 and tram/bus journeys for €1.40 (as opposed to €2.90 if you buy the ticket on the tram!). Sounds good to us! We meandered around Cacilhas with Harley for a while before putting him on Sebo Guard Duty whilst we headed off on the ferry to explore Lisbon. Harley and cities don’t necessarily get on too well and, in this case, we think he may well have been the Only Dog In Lisbon since we didn’t see any others there!!! He certainly didn’t voice any complaints as he curled-up in his bed as we left!
We spent a couple of hours on Friday evening on a reccy mission before catching the ferry back and dining in a local restaurant in Cacilhas – Cabrinha got good reviews on Tripadvisor and, we have to agree, the food was awesome, service excellent and we had no qualms at all with parting with €40 for dinner for two, a bottle of wine, two coffees and the “on the house” digestif of the local cherry brandy – which the fab waiter, Joachim, had foolishly left on the table (I think we may have topped ourselves up a couple of times with the delicious brew!). My swordfish was the size of a T-bone steak and cooked to perfection! Roy’s choice of scabbard fish was just as tasty and well cooked. The place was full of local diners – always a good sign in our book! In fairness, Joachim’s naivety was repaid with a healthy tip! Smart thinking on his part wethinks!!
Our “sleepy” spot turned-out to be “not-so-sleepy” due to some feckin’ eejit deeming it OK to pull up on said car park at 5am and play boombox toons at high volume! Like, for the love of God and all that is holy, WHY???? Needless to say, one of us (again, the one NOT sensible enough to employ earplugs!) had a much-disturbed sleep and was not amused!
Having said that, we were then up early enough on Saturday morning to take Harley for a walk long enough to salve our guilty consciences about leaving him on Sebo Guard Duty for a few hours again – at this rate, he’s gonna be expecting pocket money! Once again, we hit the ferry across the river with the intention of taking the iconic Tram 28 – Lonely Planet lists it as one of the “must-dos” in Lisbon and we were only too willing to comply since it’s list of “must-dos” has served us quite well up to now! It was a bit of a schlepp and not necessarily easy to find the Tram 28 stop in Praca Martim Moniz but, eventually, we found it – sure, one only really had to locate the tram stop with the longest queue!!!! Eventually, several trams later, it was “our turn”….we were the last ones to squeeze on which meant, basically, we had to stand up thus missing the view on a large part of the journey but, hey, it was worth it for the experience – a White Knuckle Ride for sure, as it climbed unbelievably steep and even more unbelievably narrow streets….as folk got off, we finally managed to nab seats and experience the narrow streets biz at first hand – sticking one’s head out of the open window is not necessarily a good idea as one really does risk having it bounced off a wall when cornering! We can only now really appreciate just why the “retro” one carriage trams are used on this route – anything longer or wider just wouldn’t fit!!! On the way back down, we got off at the Santa Luzia viewpoint and availed of lunch – sardines for Roy and a pretty tasty wild boar steak for me – food and location were awesome, such a pity the service was somewhat lacking though!
We meandered back down to the waterfront on foot and made an attempt to find The National Museum of Ceramic Tiles – yeah, I know, it sounds a bit kinda “interior design geeky” but I quite fancied it. Unfortunately, it was too far a walk and, conscious of the fact that Harley had been home alone for a few hours, we called it quits and, like the responsible parents we are (!), headed back to the ferry and home. One for another day, possibly?
We noticed this morning that the barriers were all up on our car park and the cashier’s office was all closed up …. interesting…..also, parking in Lisbon appears to be free at weekends….so, with that in mind, we reckoned that if we left on Sunday evening, rather than Monday morning, we wouldn’t have to pay the €3.50 charge for Friday night’s parking either – canny or what??? Not to miss an opportunity though ‘Guardians’ tend to appear as we noticed previously. Find parking places, direct cars, wait for a tip and bog off when you have blagged enough dosh! Some even carry cash bags or pseudo presentable official identification. Roy is planning a new part – time career.
This morning, we decided that rather than schlepp to the Ceramics Museum, we’d head down to Belém – along with what appeared to be the rest of Lisbon’s weekend visitors! Thankfully, we’d unwittingly boarded the tram at almost the first stop on the line, otherwise I reckon we’d still be waiting to get on! We mooched around there for a while, availed of a cappuccino and a huge piece of chocolate cake (in my case) whilst Roy chose what he thought was a ham and cheese bap (turned out to be ham and cheese on a sweet coconut scone-type thing) then, with our Via Viagem credit being a tad on the “not enough for the tram AND ferry back” side, we walked the 6.9km back to the ferry….at least we racked up more than our 10,000 Fitbit steps for the day – and, hopefully, worked off a few of the chocolate cake cake calories!
I found a free Aire up in the hills , 50km north of Lisbon, in Sobral de Monte Agraço for tonight. It should, hopefully, be quieter than our Cacilhas spot (yup, same Boombox eejit was there again in the early hours of this morning!! Grrrrr) and the local council here have had the foresight to install a free motorhome service point with four parking spaces. Good on yas, lads and lassies! Our route choice was to either avoid the toll roads and do a 100km trip OR fork out for the tolls and do it in 50km – we took the toll roads! Not sure exactly how much it has cost as yet until I check my bank account BUT we’re here now, it’s an oasis of calm, Sebo’s freshwater tank is full, his waste tanks have been emptied, we’re fed, watered and showered, and we’re looking forward to an undisturbed night’s sleep…..hopefully!
We were very much impressed by what Lisbon has to offer and, though we didn’t see more than a tiny fraction of what it has, I reckon we’ll be back again at some stage. It’s pretty awesome and we can recommend it to anyone for a long weekend! Lisboa, You Rock!