Friday, November 29, 2013

Lisbon day 3 and Porto

Fresh mint and pineapple juice at Nova Pombaline at Rua Madalene and Rua do Comércio

Jardim da Estrela - an extremely beautiful park with many kinds of giant cacti.

A walk down a posh street with a stop for terrific pastry at a pastelaria

The wonderful E28 that took me there and back

The Cemitério dos Prazeres. Deserted and a bit scary



Feral cats at the cemetery entrance

A tuk tuk taxi in the Alfama district - taking the #28 in the other direction

And the view

The fashion of Felipe Oliviera Baptista in the design Museum. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to photograph anything from the history of 20th C design in the first floor exhibit. I really liked that one.

The archway at the foot of Rua Augusta opening out onto the expanse of the Praça do Comércio

Waiting for the train to Porto in Lisbon station

a meal in a Porto caf after a day of travel
 The next pictures were taken on the Sunday after the conference as I wandered around a quiet city of closed shops. Porto is more quite rundown and a bit dreary after Lisbon's polish. Portugal's precarious financial state is more evident here.
a transplanted Ukrainian trumpetist busking in the centre of Porto.


A strange fountain with a black cube and vast outdoor seating for a cafe beside the river
The same fountain from a different viewpoint to show the buildings behind it.

Buildings piled up the hills like lego.

I bought most of my souvenirs in the stalls along the water's edge.

The car of the funicular to climb one of the city's steep hills

Looking up the hill from inside the funicular

Inside the tram. Unlike Lisbon, Porto's trams are not part of the city's transit system.

The trams are moving museum pieces with short circuits for 2.50 Euros.

Lovely fresh coconut sweet after a lunch of fried fish sandwich and fresh orange juice. 

Porto is on the River Douro. 

A riverside walk

The day is winding down and my legs are tired. Heading back to the hotel.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lisbon Day 2

Cold, dazzlingly sunny weather continues in this beautiful city.

Had a little spill on this beautiful uneven pavement which is everywhere. It's probably called the Lisbon Trip. I only brought one long-sleeved shirt which I've been wearing everyday, so was desperate for a laundromat. The hotel told me they don't have self-service laundries in Lisbon, so off I went in search of a traditional laundry. Then stumbled onto a 2-week old laundromat with a wonderfully kind proprietor who told me I had to go to the district of Chiado because it had lots of nice shops and the streets were full of life. They were - I liked it very much and walked for miles up and down hills.


She told me that Lisbon was built on 7 steep hills and that you need to take elevators, funiculars, the old trams, and escalators to get to the high districts. Here's the incredibly steep escalator located in the metro station. First you go way down and then you go way, way up.


In Chiado, I visited The Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporanea. A very grand name but a very small, and so-so collection. Here's two pieces I liked. I wrote the names of the Portuguese artists down on a piece of paper that I seem to have lost. 


A very European park at the top of Miseracordia

And the view

Snack of apple pastry and a galao at a cafe outside the metro station

Monday, November 25, 2013

Arrival in Lisbon

Sunday was a day of travel, up early to catch the tube to Heathrow, only to discover the first Piccadilly line train wasn't for another 40 minutes. Listened to the tannoy announcement at 5-minute intervals while I shivered on the 5-degree platform. Was able to cash in my oyster card and get a £9 refund on unused travel and £5 oyster card deposit. Oyster card travel is about 1/2 price of paying cash! 

The departure lounge in Heathrow terminal 5 is much less claustrophobic than it was 5 years ago, thanks to vast windows and no smoking.

Beautiful ceiling seen during layover in Madrid airport.

Getting to my hotel in Lisbon was straightforward thanks to extensive research before I left Vancouver, since I really wanted to avoid getting lost. Lisbon is beautiful and it's so wonderful to be in a small city again after London.

Okay, so this is one of the things the I find nerve-shattering about travelling: trying to find your hotel in a strange city before night falls. As you can see below, it's getting dark as I finally get to the street my hotel is supposed to be on. Artbeat said in their email that I had to call them so they could get to reception and open up for me. But no answer from the airport. I decided rather than hang around, I'd get on the aerobus.

Seen here is one of the tiled streets of central Lisbon (Baixa district) where my hotel is supposed to be. I wander up and down the block and finally stop in front of a grim-looking door (below). By now it's quite dark but fortunately the street is well-lit. I look at the intercom and see a little piece of brown paper. Have to fumble out my glasses to read Artbeat Rooms in coloured handwriting. These photos where taken in daylight, but it was very iffy-looking in the dark. So I buzz and miraculously, the door opens.

Inside there's a pretty nice foyer and then it's up four flights of stairs with the suitcase. As is typical with old European buildings, the stairs get narrower, steeper, and meaner the higher you go. Stone and tile give way to lino and wood veneer. Finally I arrive in front of a Jackson Pollack-style door, which I assume must be the entrance to Artbeat Rooms.

Fortunately, when I knock, I'm let in by a sweet Polish art student and am led to my pretty room. 

Here's my very pleasant Andy Warhol-themed room in a small hotel with self-service kitchen and wifi everywhere, 24 hours (yes!). No ensuite though - boo, shame!, as Little Wolf would say.
But Lisbon is freezing! High of 13 and down to 5 at night. I only have one long-sleeved Tshirt, so must go shopping toot sweet.