Living the vida Lisbon
It would be silly, almost inexcusable, in fact, to go all the way to Agra in India and not visit the Taj Mahal. Likewise, a stay in Rome without seeing the Colosseum wouldn’t make much sense. Lisbon (visitlisboa.com) isn’t home to one of the world’s seven wonders, but it has some pretty wonderful stuff. Here are five things not to miss.
1. Tram 28 isn’t so much a sight, but it is all about eye candy. The bright yellow, vintage streetcar clunks past so many of the city’s treasures, the $4 fare beats a pricy tour any day. Early risers should take it the Feira da Ladra or Thieves (Flea) Market, which opens at 6am Tuesdays and Saturdays: you’ll avoid the crowds and transit pickpockets too.
2. The eastern district of Alfama is the city’s oldest. Originally Lisbon’s Moorish quarter, it was all but devastated by an earthquake in 1755. It didn’t hurt its charm: its sweet cobblestone streets, taverns and markets will woo you, as will the view from the belvedere of Largo das Portas do Sol, which stretches to the sea.
3. Fado is like the Blues, except it’s a lot less honky tonk. A lot less. For a 101 in the melancholic music, go to the Museu de Fado (closed Mondays). Once you’ve been schooled, check out a fado house near Largo de São Roque in the Barrio Alto district or a less touristy one in Alfama; it’ll serve you a meal and amateur music.
4. The city’s finest restos get their fish and produce at downtown’s Mercado da Ribeira so it should be stop number one pre-picnic at, say, the Principe Real Jardim Botânico. It’s the heart of Lisbon really and where you’ll see big, beautiful veggies being carried in baskets on the heads of (loud!) Lisboa women. Closed Sundays.
5. Eat, drink port wine and be merry at Lisboa Solar in the Ludovic Palace in Bairro Alto. Tastings are moderately priced and come with little something, something to nibble on: bread, cheese, sausage, the usual. Their lista de vinhos features 200-plus types, but their (somewhat inattentive) service leaves a little to be desired. Closed Sundays.
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