I got here three nights ago, having traveled by motorcycle from Granada, Spain. Coming into Lisbon, I crossed over a huge bridge modeled, I am told, after the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.\
I needed a place to stay for the next several days, so I asked my GPS to find lodging. I picked out a likely looking candidate from the list, but when I followed my GPS directions, the hotel was not there. This is kind of a common thing with a GPS unit I think.
While I was wandering around looking, two Lisbon people saw the license plate on my motorcycle and stopped to talk. Their names are Margarida Eloi and Nuno Antonio.
It turns out that they have been to the United States several times and they were very interested in talking about Illinois, wondering just where it is and what it is like there. They invited me up to their apartment which was just next door to where I had happened to park. Nuno took me up onto the roof to show me the view of Lisbon from up there.
He wanted to take my picture, so here I am up on his roof with Lisbon spread out behind me.
Antonio gave me a lot of suggestions on things to go and see in Portugal, and Margarida gave me a map of the country. Then they helped me call another Pensada to make reservations for the next few nights. Here is a picture Margarida took of Nuno and me as I was getting ready to get back on Odysseus and head off to the Pensada. Nuno sent me this picture a day or two later by email. Thanks Nuno. I know that you are following my blog, so here is a picture of us. I like it.
I wandered around Lisbon the next day, first by a tour bus, and later by walking. Lisbon is certainly a big city, and everything is very spread out.
I walked up onto a hill overlooking a pretty park. From there I could look down and see the Rio Tejo. It is a river, but to me it is more of a bay of the Atlantic Ocean.
I walked down through the park, going to the river, and as I walked through the park I came to a section that had hundreds of stalls selling books.
Too bad I can't read Portuguese, because I could have bought about any kind of book I wanted here.
Pretty much all my reading these days in on my Kindle, reading books that I download from my library. My wife, though, loves real books and would be in heaven if we had these book shops in our own home town.
People must like books in Portugal too, because there were a lot of them there. Often, they would buy their books there in the park and then I would see them sitting at an outdoor cafe there in the park reading books to their children.
From the park, I continued walking on down through the shopping district, passing street performers and men doing caricatures and lots of boutiques. It is quite impressive down there on the river front.
There are hundreds of seafood restaurants down on the riverside. There are also many marinas. I love looking a sailboats and picking out the one I would buy if I had my choice. Once upon a time, back when I was 30 years old, I thought I wanted a sailboat. Then, I went sailing with a man once and found out that it is not for me; it is very boring. However, there is a certain romanticism about sailing. Here is a sloop that I found very appealing, although it would not be one I would choose to own.
Columbus and many other adventurers sailed off into the wild ocean from Lisbon. There is quite the sailing tradition here. There is a marvelous monument down on the river to those early sailors.
I guess all those guys on the monument are famous, but I am not too sure who they are. I do know that the one in the lead is Henry the Navigator. Do you remember him from your high school history? Third in line is Vasco de Gama I think. And somewhere in there is Magellan.
Just in case you can't see him in the previous picture, here he is again: Henry the Navigator.
One of those guys on the monument is Cabral who discovered Brazil. I am not sure which one he is, but I can tell you that the Portuguese are very proud of Brazil, even though Brazil is independent these days. Here is a replica of the first plane to fly from Portugal to Brazil. Those two guys who flew it must have been brave.
Just down the river from the Sailor's Monument is the Torre (which means "Tower" of Belem (which I am told means Bethlehem). Once upon a time it was a fort that guarded the entrance to Lisbon. Now it is just a good looking thing to walk around in for an hour or two.
Do you like this picture I took of one of the corner stations?
Maybe this picture from up above is better.
One final one. I hope it doesn't scare you
Just down from my hotel is a huge monastery. It seems to be the place to see because it is always packed with tourists.
They were getting ready to have a wedding down in the church. People were sure dressed up. I wasn't, so I could not go to the wedding myself.
There are oodles and gobs of things to see in Lisbon, but they sure are spread out. Walking is okay, but it is better to find motorized transport. One thing that a lot of people seemed to like was riding in a tuk tuk.
Or on the cute little trolley cars
Or on the larger trams.
You have probably heard me say before that I am not a huge fan of large cities, but I do like Lisbon. Now, it is time for me to do a little more walking; this time down the street to a restaurant. It is almost 9:00 p.m., and that is supper time here. So I had best be on my way.