Thursday, 12 May 2016

Loving our Lives in Lisbon

Trolley cars run throughout the city
We decided to try something different for this vacation instead of running all over the country like crazy fools. Upon the advice of our friends Pam and Jim from Washington DC who are seasoned travellers, we decided to skip staying in expensive hotels and try renting directly from the owners of small condos through VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owners) for two weeks in Lisbon and two weeks in Porto in Portugal. We will see less of the country, but this will give us a much more relaxed vacation at half the price.

We finally arrived at our rented condo in Lisbon 24 hours after being dropped off at the airport in Vancouver. We were very grateful that everything had gone so smoothly, as by the time that we had waited in London for our connecting flight, caught the subway to Rossio, and after stumbling around the square in dazed circles, we finally asked someone in a restaurant if they could help us find our condo. To our surprise, rather than telling us where to go, one of the servers kindly walked us right to our door, even dragging one of our suitcases along for us.

When we finally found the condo, we were astounded to see the stairs that awaited us.  Gathering our last ounce of energy, we managed  to stagger up to our new home for the next two weeks. We were delighted to find a small but clean and cozy condo with everything we need, including a washer and dryer combo!

Our hostess Sofia even walked with me to the closest restaurant, took care of ordering, and waited with me for 20 minutes as they prepared our dinner. By now, it was 11:00 at night, and we were exhausted but so thankful for the kindness of our new Portugese friends.

A view of our new home from the rooftop restaurant next door. We're in the bottom door on the right.
Our first day in Portugal started off slowly, as we allowed our jet lagged bodies to get caught up on our sleep. After shopping at the grocery store at the bottom of the stairs, Bryce cooked me a delicious cheese omelette, and we set off to explore the city.

Oh boy, more stairs!
Lisbon is known as the city of hills, and they are everywhere. Many streets are pedestrians only, which means that they can link one to the other with, yes you guessed it, stairs!

Lisbon is situated at the mouth of the Tagus River, the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula, which includes Portugal and Spain. This creates a beautiful backdrop for the Praco do Comercio (the Square of Commerce), a lovely shopping area with lovely sidewalk cafes  that stretch from the river to the square in the centre of Rossio, the beautiful area of the city that we are staying in.

The entry into the river plaza is through the Arco da Rua Augusta, which was rebuilt in 1873 after the earthquake of 1755 destroyed most of the town. The arch was designed to celebrate the bronze statue of  King Jose 1, built in 1775.
Bronze statue of King Jose 1

Brycey framed by the Arco da Rua Augusta

After enjoying lunch in one of the lovely sidewalk cafes, we wandered and shopped along the mall for a few hours and a leisurely one mile stroll until we reached the Rossio square.

A selfie in front of the fountain in Rossio square
This has been one of the main squares in Lisbon since the middle ages, and is still a popular meeting place.

Ah, an exhausting but happy first day, we were grateful to settle into bed, as we were still feeling the effects of jet lag.

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