Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lisbon & around 16th to 19 May 2009

Lisbon to NZ: Wednesday 20th May 2009

We were out at the Lisbon airport at 8:00am for the 10am flight through to London Luton (2 hours). Took the express bus to Heathrow (1 hour 15 min). At terminal four we found there were only minimal facilities. Now that Terminal 5 is operational and BA is based there Terminal 4 has been earmarked for renovation and needs it.

It was a very windy day as we came into land at Wellington and the plane was buffeted around. However as we got close to the ground it became very calm and the landing was surprisingly smoooooth.

We had a marvellous time. So many contrasts and experiences. We saw and experienced many cultures, ate well, drank well and had so much fun together. A brief summary:

one marriage
3 months
12 countries
24 different beds
10 trains, 6 metros, 6 boats & 9 planes
1 lease car 5,500km in 6 weeks
cost unknown
still married

Caiscais: Saturday 16th May 2009

We visited the market across the road from the Cais do Sodre station – Mercado da Ribera where plenty of fruit & veg, meat and fish were for sale; however there weren’t that many customers.

We headed out on the train to Caiscais, a seaside town popular with wealthy Lisbonites and golfers situated 30 minutes from Lisbon. After walking along the coast for a couple of kilometres to see a rather underwhelming sea blowhole we headed to our main purpose of being there – the beach.

There were a few people dotted about on the sand. Andrew bravely went into the water which was rather colder than expected given the warm air temperatures we had been experiencing.
After warming up we sat above the beach for a while having a beer; watching the activity on the beach and in the water.
On returning to town we went down to Rossio square to watch a “Iberian Mask Parade” which started at 16:30 and we stayed for 2 hours and it continued for another hour or so. Groups from towns/provinces in Spain and Portugal performed rituals associated with masks linked to their cultural history. Many had similar themes – bulls, bells, bright costumes, drums, dancing and music etc. All were passionate about their performance, it was entertaining, and there was lots of interaction with the crowds watching. It was fun.
General scenes from the parade
This group was completely passionate about their drumming - the red marks on the drum tops are blood from where they had drummed their hands raw.
Costa da Caparica: Sunday 17th May 2009
The ferries shuttle across the river Tejo all day from the Cais de Sodre station and for 0.81 cent we took the 10 minute trip.
After a coffee we hopped on a local bus 25 minutes to the Costa da Caparica. This is 8km of beach and is apparently the favourite summer weekend escape for the Lisbonites.
We had a set lunch in town for €4.80 for a bowl of soup, a warm chorizo filled bread, a drink, sweet rice pudding and a coffee. Simple food, but exceptional value.
The beach stretched on for 8km and ‘beaches’ were set apart by a series of sea walls. Not a lot of swimming going on here either due to the water temperatures but the surfers, in their wetsuits, were out in force. Quite a safe beach but with enough waves to provide some fun.
We walked along the beach front which was an area of 2 halves. The 1st half we walked along had been undergone a ‘rejuvination’ program with the aid of EU money. Here there were a series of designer beach buildings, set well back from the beach, which were cafes and restaurants. All very smart and similar. Signs showing what projects were undertaken suggested it was part of a €50 million project – how much related to the beach was beyond our Portuguese. The 2nd half of the beach still had old beach houses, painted in primary colours. Many looked abandoned, but one was definitely in the process of being renovated by an owner.
Back in Lisbon we went back down to Rossio square where Iberican tourist agencies had tents up promoting their regions in association with the parade we saw yesterday. Going from tent to tent we managed to sample some wines, try some port and generally have a pleasant time.
Lisbon: Monday 18th May 2009
We purchased an all day ticket for the transport system and decided to do the complete route of tram 28. We were familiar with part of the route as it had been our tram home when we stayed in the Alfama, but we realised we had never done the full route. It was interesting to see a bit more of the city.
Police on Segways (also saw lots of Mall security guards riding these things)
We headed out to a huge mall Colombus Centre where we looked around but didn’t buy much.

On the way to dinner up in the Alfama we took another tram No 12, which took another route again and a little more of the city was revealed to us. Dinner was at a lovely restaurant which overlooked the Lisbon harbour. Andrew and Chloe had found it in their time in Lisbon. The meal was fantastic we both had the soup and the black pork and the accompanying wine was divine.

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