The city sleeps until 10, but my flight landed early and I thought it was an opportune time to view some of the landmarks in the sunrise sunshine. Lisbon is rather lanky, one could say, as points of interest are spread apart and not easy to access on foot.
I hopped in a cab, hoping to catch the morning light. Wifi wasn’t working so I took a cab directly from the airport, mistake of the day. Taxi drivers from the airport will try to scam you. I was charged 35 euros for a short cab ride, where research and recommendations estimated around 7 euros. It was early, no one was around, and I felt powerless to negotiate a fair fee.
For your benefit, please download the app called 99 taxi and private drivers.
The price of this picture was steep, but worth the sunrise setting perhaps? The 25 de Abril Bridge below is a suspension bridge linking Lisbon to Almada. A familiar statue, the Sanctuary of Christ the King, is inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, Brazil and is found on the opposite side of the bridge.
Along the Tagus River, the destination was the Torre de Belém, or Belém Tower. dating back to 1514.
If you learn only one thing in a foreign language, please let that be “Thank You.” A smile and a simple gesture that you are attempting to assimilate are amicable. Obrigado means thank you in Portuguese, and you can bet this wasn’t one of the phrases selected for the first taxi driver.
Walking towards the suspension bridge past a small harbor, you will see the Padrão dos Descobrimentos or Monument to the Discoveries in English right along the shore. You can’t miss it!
At a closer look you can view the distinctive Portuguese pavement patterns at the base of the monument.
There was also a bit of art, with the letters of L-O-V-E encased in locks of love.
From here, walk inland to reach the Jardim de Belém, or garden. To cross the busy highway you must take the underpass as there is no above ground pedestrian crossing in that area. On the other side of the garden you’ll see the Jerónimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery that also dates back to the 1500s.
A bit thrown off by the taxi, I wandered through the garden towards a street scattered with pastry shops, those with lines predicting a wise purchase. Only a Starbucks was found offering wifi. Catching up on emails I questioned my opinion about Lisbon, when a chatty local offered a smile and travel tips. The kindness of one person can really alter your mood, and it is important to not make judgments based off of one inopportune occurrence.
I was told to take the tram to the city center for a 15 minute ride. As another tip, leave those Starbucks gift cards at home when traveling abroad, as they will not work overseas. Also, to visit São Jorge Castle be sure to get there early as there was a long line that wrapped around the street to get in. There were many tourists, even on a weekday.
Escaping the crowds and wandering down the narrow streets, I was allured by the smell of fresh laundry and the lines and lines of clothes hung to dry.
Along these streets you’ll also find many shops with canned fish in every flavor imaginable.
One of my favorite spots was the amazing viewpoint near the Portas do Sol at these coordinates.
I would also recommend visiting the Parque d Palacio Nacional da Pena if you have the opportunity, which is a 20 minute drive from Lisbon.
Last but not least, enjoy this Lisbon Playlist I created on Spotify to discover a few Portuguese artists. (Sadly, Pandora is not available in Europe, but I’ve come to love Spotify.) Enjoy!
Stopover Songs: Lisbon Edition (click here to listen)