On Wednesday morning, Sue, Deborah and I were reunited in the cobbled street outside our apartment. Our accommodation was situated in one of the oldest parts of the city at the top of one of Lisbon’s seven hills, near the ancient Castelo de S. Jorge. After an hour or so sharing our travel experiences to date, we set off to explore the historic centre. Like many other travelers, we took a roller coaster ride on the number 28 tram, followed by a lengthy journey on foot past various miradors, monuments and plazas. We quickly appreciated the stunning achitecture and colourful tiled facades of houses and shops of old Lisboa… And were heard to say more then once: ‘not another set of steps!’
The following day saw us catching another tram about half an hour out of the city centre to visit the Monastery of St. Jeronemo and the tomb of Vasco da Gama in the seaside district of Belem. We also saw a unique historical exhibition, the white stone Belem Tower and admired the wide esplanade and fountain along the river side. But most importantly, we stopped at streetside cafe to sample the custard tarts for which this area is so famous. We were not disappointed! We were comforttheir the knowledge that we will easily loose any extra kilos that we might acquire in these few preparatory days, when we start to walk the Camino track.
By the time we returned to the city in early afternoon the temperature had risen to 30 degrees. The sweltering journey on the crowded tram (on which the air conditioning didn’t function), meant that we had no option but to try one of the delicious flavours of ice cream that were in offer. Another memorable moment which reenergised us sufficiently to walk some more, this time in an effort to find one of the city’s four funiculars. Our aim was to take a ride up to a lookout in Barrio Alto on a neighbouring hillside. However, the maps of Lisbon are not so easy to read and we ended up riding the funicular down instead!