Alfama – La Alma

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For our few days in Lisbon, we stayed in the Alfama neighborhood. My husband had been to Lisbon before, and he was all about Alfama. Me, I didn’t know what to expect.

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I was SO GLAD we took his advice, because Alfama was fabulous.

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The neighborhood is built onto one of the hills overlooking the river, and because of it’s location, it survived a major earthquake and fire (1755) that destroyed most of the city. Alfama survived, and thus retains the oldest historical character in the city.

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We stayed at the Hello Lisbon serviced apartments. These are highly, highly recommended.

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I’m not much of a hotel person, but give me a little studio apartment in the heart of a neighborhood with charming features, a totally remodeled interior, a kitchenette, detailed instructions on everything and… gourmet breakfast delivered to the door? I’m a very happy camper.

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I’m kicking myself for not taking photos of the apartment, but I loved it. We stayed at the Castelo apartments, and one of the trolley lines ran right outside our door.

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We also walked up to the Castelo twice. Once to explore the neighborhood and once to visit the Castelo at sunset.

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The first evening we simply stepped out our door and wove our way down through the ancient streets.

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We had views of the river from many lookouts and I was charmed by paint-peeled doorways, potted plants and balconies at every turn. Not to mention the tile.

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Oh, the tile.

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Let’s just I came home with some. In a padded cardboard box, that my lovely husband hand-carried. Stay tuned for our fireplace makeover. (Don’t hold your breath. I expect it will take place in 2017.)

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We found this tile shop that specializes in reproduction historic tiles.

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You’ll have to hold your breath to discover which one of these beauties we came home with.

Tower of Belem/Torre de Belem

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For a day trip one day, we headed north on one of the tourist buses that make circuitous routes throughout the city. You can buy a hop-on-hop-off ticket and use it over a period of days. The tickets are also valid for the trolleys.

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I’m sure they’re sold elsewhere, but the closest place for us to purchase them was at the tourist office in Praca da Figueira square. That was the best place for us to catch the buses, too.

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So we headed for Belem. Along the way, we passed the Jeronimos monastery, but we didn’t go in. Apparently this is where Vasco da Gama prayed before he headed out to discover a route to India.

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The tower is an old fort on the Tagus river that once protected the city of Lisbon.

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Now it’s a landmark and World Heritage site.

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We paid the fee to head inside, dodging Chinese tourists by the dozen. We checked out the cannons below, then twisted our way up the one-way stairs to the top of the tower. Seriously, there are red and green lights telling you when it’s ok to go up, and when the processes reverses to head down.

The roof was filled with smoking and flirty school kids. Apparently we picked field trip day.

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Looking out toward the Atlantic; the Science Center is in the lower right.

If you look toward Lisbon, you see what may seem to be a familiar site:

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Not the Golden Gate Bridge, but definitely it’s doppelganger. Apparently they were built by the same company (American Bridge Company). When you know how to do something right, you keep doing it, apparently.

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This is the 25 of April Bridge. Behind it, you can also see Portugal’s replica of the famous Rio statue, but this one is much smaller and called “Cristo-Rei” (Christ the King). I would have liked to have seen that, it didn’t fit in to the tight itinerary.

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After our trip up the tower, we headed over the walking bridge toward that fuchsia-colored house and found one of the most delicious meals of our trip. Just past that house in a side street was a tiny little restaurant filled with locals. I figured that was a good sign.

I can’t remember what my husband got, but I ordered the salmon. Everything was done to perfection, from the greens to the salted potatoes to the tender pink salmon. And I think my meal was $8.

Then we poked around the town and popped into some cute design boutiques where I coveted much but bought nothing. That took us back over by the monastery and the marina.

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At that point, the monument to the Age of Discoveries (though small, Portugal played a big part in making our world into the global economy we all enjoy):

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Wasn’t nearly as exciting as this relic from a time a bit nearer.

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I would totally drive that thing around with pride.

What Goes Up the Great Wall, Must…

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You guys. This was SO FUN.

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Of course we had to pay extra.

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Of course it was a hassle to get the guys out of their warm building to get the little toboggan things set up for us. (I felt like the Jamaican bobsled team.)

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But it was so FUN!

My friend said it was the longest slide in the world. I just googled it and it’s not. But who cares? It was a solid couple of minutes of freezing wind rushing past my face while I laughed like a maniac.