Today was our last day in Lisbon. Being a Monday, virtually every museum and public attraction, and I do mean virtually every museum and attraction, are closed. It is also the day of the week that you do not order fish--the fisherman take Sundays off.
One thing is for sure, Lisbon could do a much better job of coordinating museum openings. We certainly were not surprised by the closures, but in most cities, particularly during peak tourist season, several museums remain open on Mondays (closing on another weekday).
Rather than take the metro, we decided to walk toward our destination under the canopy of the well-developed trees that line Avenida da Liberdade. Within 10 minutes, we were at the Rossio Train station., which also houses a large Starbucks. We tend to stay out of U.S. based franchises when we travel, but I have always checked out the local McDonald's to assess pricing and how the international concern modifies it menu to accommodate local tastes. In recent years, I've started to undertake a similar review of Starbucks. In short, with the exception of the local pastries, the Starbucks in Rossio is identical to any one that you would find the U.S. I did order a Cool Lime Refresher.
It was then up two outdoor staircases to the Largo Do Carmo square, where we saw the same musicians we saw playing near the overlook two days earlier, but with four female backing vocalists added to the mix. They kept it funky, as we sat for a good hour listening while Evelyn drew the standout drawing of the trip. I snuck off to photograph on the nearby streets, and on my return, I heard some Miles Davis' So What coming from the square as the group finished their set, departing while two acoustic guitarists began to play.
Before our detour, our destination has been Igreja do Carmo, a church shell that has been preserved since the roof collapsed during the 1755 earthquake that destroyed most of Lisbon and killed at least a third of its residents. We had seen the stone arches--sans rooftop--from various peaks around the city since our arrival. Now it was time to go inside this ode to Lord Byron and 18th Century passion to preserve historic sites.
Wow, a knock out, although it would have been photographically better had the grounds not been cluttered with bleachers, light stands, and sound equipment--William Shakespeare's Cymbeline was being presented in the evenings.
We also visited the church museum, which had beautiful light fixtures and very creepy mummified people in glass classes, with teeth and eyeballs intact.
We left the church, visited the observation deck at the top of the Elevador de Santa Justa, and then rode the cast iron elevator that first opened for service in 1902 down to street level. From there, we stopped for a pastry, and then headed in the direction of the Alfama neighborhood, where we walked up and down hills for several hours, taking in the ambiance of this old neighborhood and it labyrinthine streets, stopping at a church, a bar for refreshment, and to lesson to some reggae music performed by Mistiçu--street musicians are clearly under appreciated. Chicago should encourage a higher caliber street musician than the "buck boys."
Alfama is a very old neighborhood. In fact, it is so old that many of the buildings do not have baths, which means there are communal baths. I suspect that those baths will be eventually disappear. Gentrification is underway.
We then headed down the hill, grabbed a cab, and went to Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo, which has two funiculars running up and down the hill. Today, the photo gods did not favor me with a photogenic scene--too late in the day so everything was in shadow.
We headed back to the hotel, asked for a restaurant recommendation, and set out to find it. When we didn't see it, we opted for a place in a shopping mall food court that advertised simple and cheap Italian food. We went for the chicken and cheese pita-like sandwich. Not sure it was Italian, but we were tired, sick of eating out, and the food was excellent and cheap. At the point, we called it quits for the day. Along our route to the restaurant, we did see Lisbon's third set of funiculars, so we swept in the funicular department.
Copyright 2016, Jack B. Siegel. All Rights Reserved