Date: *30th October 2014
- Weather: *Clear blue sunny skies, 24C wind very light.
Our approach to Lisbon by sea was up a long estuary , where the river
Tagus runs out into the Atlantic. Our berth was 18 miles up into the estuary where the city lies on the northern banks. The sail into Lisbon is always a very enjoyable sight with plenty to see on your way in. Ours started with daylight in its early stages, and the early sunlight catching some of the shoreline. As you enter on the north side you pass the towns of Cascais and Estoril, then the first of some noteable buildings which
were “ Torre de Belem “ a five- storey stone fortress which was built in 1515 to guard the approach to the city water, this building was later used as a prison. Next up is the “Monument to the Discoveries” erected in 1960 to commemorate the early discoveries of the Portugese explorers , a fine white stone monument in the shape of a sailing ship bow with the explorers carved onto the ship all looking forward.
Always visible as soon as you enter the estuary is the “ Bridge” on the lines of the San Francisco bridge, with the same colouring. It has a central span of over 1,000 yards and a total length of double that. When you pass underneath it has a buzzing or humming sound which is made by the traffic going across it, this is because of the open metal work design.
Right next to the bridge on the south bank is a statue of “ Christ the King” resembling the one in Rio de Janeiro, but a lot smaller, it was paid for by the women of Portugal in thanksgiving for the fact that their menfolk were not actively involved in WW11. This is a fine sight stood on a plinth some 215 feet high.
As we arrive at our berth very near the main city centre the river Tagus is still a massive river with the south bank shore some distance away, and with lots of ferry traffic which serves the commuting public from the town across the river.
Our plans for today were to do our own thing and explore some more of what the city has to offer, we`ve been here a few times before so we knew the general layout of the place. After some late breakfast we made our way to the quayside to pick up a shuttle service which took us to the city
centre. We did have one objective for the day and that was to take one of the old electric trams to the “Alfama” district. The trams are very much a work horse for their respective districts well used by locals and loved by the tourist. They seemed to be a bit unloved but that all adds to the character. The Alfama area is a working class area with narrow streets and alleyways going everywhere. After some unusual twists and turns in the tram track we arrived at an open square with cafes local shops plenty and of people. The edge of the square was terraced with fine views of the river and the rooftops spread out below. So after taking in all what was on offer we waited for the next tram which took us back to the city centre, this particular route is a circular one, and you can jump off at many different stops to explore lots of points of interest.
We decided to find a pavement café with the dual purpose of having a rest and finding one that also had the Custard tarts for which all Portuguese places are famous, and that was soon done! we sat for quite a while, and the sun was warm so it was a nice break. We then went for a walk to remind ourselves what the city looks like again, there are many fine buildings and monuments dotted around. The Baixa district is the main commercial centre of Lisbon and is laid out on a grid system but the whole city is very easy walking.
After having our fill of the city we made our way down to “ Black Horse “ Square to where there is a fine monument, this square is right on the waterfront with a nice view over the river. From this position we decided to make our way back to our ship which was only a short walk along the waterfront and this we did, stopping to see some more fine buildings along the way.
We had a light lunch and then retired to the deck for a sit down with a view of Lisbon, finishing our stop here very well pleased.
An early evening sail away with the last of the daylight seeing again all those views we saw earlier in the day . Thank you Lisbon, now we head for Gibraltar.