Cruise Diva Goes
Ashore in Europe:
to see & things to do
the capital of Portugal is as Mediterranean in flavor as, say,
Barcelona. However, Lisbon is a long way from the Mediterranean Sea.
Located on the estuary of the Tagus River, Lisbon’s natural
harbor opens onto the Atlantic Ocean, which offered her explorers a
natural base from which to begin their discoveries of new lands.
contrast to the history of the area—the Phoenicians established a
port in Lisbon around 1200BC—much of the city appears newer and
more modern, with little original evidence of her early settlers,
the Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors. In
1755 a terrible earthquake and subsequent tidal wave of enormous
proportion swept away nearly everything in its path, devastating
parts of Lisbon. Fortunately,
many important monuments and buildings were spared.
of the most famous sites in Lisbon are the Belém Tower, built in
the 16th century to defend the mouth of the Tagus; the
Manueline style Jerónimos Monastery with its adjacent stunning
cloister and the Maritime and National Archaeological Museums housed
on its grounds; the striking Monument to the Discoveries, offering
homage to Prince Henry the Navigator and all other Portuguese
explorers; the House of Facets, a 16th century palace with a façade
entirely covered with stones carved into diamond points; and the
Roman arches of the aqueduct spanning the Alcântara Valley.
Alfama district rises from the Tagus and marches up the hill capped
by St. George’s Castle, which overlooks the city with spectacular
views and fine gardens within.
This medieval area was first occupied by the Visigoths and
then the Arabs and Christians.
It’s a maze of narrow streets and lanes punctuated by
archways, walls decorated with antique tiles, and wrought-iron
balconies. The entire
area was nearly destroyed by the 1755 earthquake and its dilapidated
appearance is presently undergoing renovation.
of Lisbon’s most magnificent views is from the crest of the
elegant Parque Eduardo VII. With
a good guidebook and walking map you can catch a taxi and head out
to any of the districts of Lisbon on your own.
In the Barrio Alto a favorite adventure is the ride on the Glória
funicular, one of the old-fashioned streetcars that appears to have
escaped from a transportation museum.
Ships excursions will provide passengers with city highlights
and independent tours can be arranged at hotels.
Rental cars aren’t recommended due to the heavy traffic and
lack of parking. Taxis
are available by the ride (metered) or for half a day or the whole
day for exploring the city—negotiate the rate before you head out.
an evening of special entertainment, a club with fado
performers is the place to go. Locals
will gladly steer you to the clubs where the best fado is to
be found. (Fado
is a soulful and nostalgic expression of emotions, sung to the
accompaniment of a twelve-stringed guitar.)
tiles, colorful pottery, delicate porcelain, and crafts are sold
everywhere, but the downtown shopping district on Rua Augusta is the
place to find quality merchandise ranging from local haute couture
and fine Portuguese leather goods to watercolors created by sidewalk
artists. Check the
jewelry stores on this pedestrian street for delicate filigree
jewelry, either in 19 carat gold, sterling silver, or vermeil.
Renowned Madeira tablecloths and delicately embroidered linen
shawls are a find at Madeira House on Rua Augusta.
port wines are available in many shops but the best selection and
prices are at the Instituto do Vinho do Porto stores (there is a
handy store at the airport for last-minute purchases).
Shops close from 1:00 to 3:00 pm, so head for the upscale
Amoreiras or Colombo Malls. Check
with the locals for the location and days that the many open-air
markets are open. The
“Thieves Market” is purported to be the one for real bargains.
accessible are the resort areas west along the coast toward Cascais
and Estoril (once known as the “Resort of Kings”). Across
the 25 April Bridge, a small train or bus will deliver you to the
southerly beaches of Costa da Caparica, a favorite of Lisbonites.
Back to Europe,
Mediterranean Ports of Call