11.5.10

Lisbon

When I think of Lisbon, I can´t help remembering the scene in the film Casablanca where Rick tells Ilsa: "We'll always have Paris..."  whilst on the airfield the engine of the plane to Lisbon turns over and the propellers start turning. Walking through Lisbon today, it feels as if the city has not changed since then and that is one of the reasons why, I think, it retains that old world charm. Having said that, Lisbon has become "the" place to be, or at least visit, in Europe. It's Bairro Alto and Chiado are buzzing with cafes, restaurants and designer shops.
Chiado and Elevador Santa Justa

The best way to see Lisbon is to walk or, at most, to jump on one of it's trams and elevators. Just off Avenida Liberdade you can take the Elevador da Gloria that climbs the steep hill to the Bairro Alto. Further down Liberdade you come to the Elevador Santa Justa, designed by a disciple of Eiffel. You can also take the No. 28 tram or the electrico that starts at Martin Moniz and takes you up to Castelo de São Jorge for a marvellous view of Lisbon, but be very aware of pickpockets.

If you want to rest from all the walking you can sit down at one of the many cafes you will find around town. A Brasileira, in Chiado, opened in 1905 and became a favourite spot for artists and writers. Outside the cafe there is a life size bronze statue of Fernando Pessoa, Portugal's foremost poet, sitting at a table waiting for all of us tourists to come along and sit down for a chat.

As regards museums, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is a must. The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian houses the eclectic collection that Calouste Gulbenkian assembled during his lifetime. The collection is made up of over 6,000 pieces from all over the world, dating from antiquity until the early twentieth century. The Museu do Centro de Arte Moderna houses the modern art collection, especially Portuguese art. It has an extensive collection of the cubist paintings of  Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.

There are another two modern art museums in Lisbon: the Museu do Chiado and the Berardo Museum at the Belém Cultural Centre. To get to Belém you can take trams nos 15 or 18 from Praça do Comércio and once there you can also see the majestic Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Torre de Belém and the Monumento dos Descobrimentos. You must also try the custard cakes from Antiga Confeitaria de Belém.


Fernando Pessoa by Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso
If you like wine, you will like port and if you haven't tried it before, be careful because it's generally sweet but strong. You may decide to ask for one if you to go to listen to a fado in one of the many restaurants or clubs in Bairro Alto.




Now that I mention restaurants, I would particularly recommend Restaurante Eleven, set in it's own building in the park Eduardo VII  with great views and where Joachim Koerper really merits the star the Michellin Guide has awarded the restaurant. It is expensive but, in my opinion, worth every euro.

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