Friday, February 21, 2014

Lisbon, Portugal: Rough in the Center

Actual date of this event: 7-9 February

Smack dab in the center of the Lisbon is Baixa or the downtown. It is a high tourist area even though there really isn't much to see or do, but it is also swarming with locals. Lisbon isn't really a glamorous city, but the downtown is one of the nicest areas. Lisbon is the kind of city that restaurants don't open until about 7pm, but the central squares and the main pedestrian road have restaurants open all day long. Since we were tourists, we took a stroll through the area and came across a few things that were a bit "rough", but they still make us giggle today...
{Rua Augusta}
We started at Praça dos Restauradores, which is just below Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara and where the Gloria Funicular starts/ends. The square is huge with a big obelisk in the center and a beautiful cobblestone design. During our visit, it was very empty, but I would imagine it is the home to festivals or markets sometimes - or maybe not? Anyway, one of the statues on the obelisk reminded us of Kermit the Frog. :-)
{Gloria Funicular}

{the Kermit the Frog statue}
When we looked north from Praça dos Restauradores, we saw up Avenida da Liberdade which leads to Praca Marques do Pombal (a roundabout with a statue) and Edward VII Park. We never made it that far north, but it is listed as one of the miradouros of Lisbon as you can get a really great view.
Continuing our way south and toward the water, we came upon Praça de D. Pedro IV (more commonly known as Rossio Squarewhich is the most popular square in Lisbon. We debated on sneaking our way into a tour group of college-aged students, but I am pretty sure our thirty-year-old-selves would have stuck out of the crowd. The square has a column dedicated to Pedro IV, two large fountains, and a nice design on the ground. It was here that we - actually Luke - was first approached about buying some hashish. It took us a bit by surprise because that was the first time that anyone, while we are traveling, has offered it to us. After it happened, I looked around and there were several guys that looked as if they were also selling. No one else approached us in the square, so I guess they have their territories??

Just east of Rossio, we walked through Praça da Figueira which isn't much except for a traffic hub for buses and trams, a view of St. George's Castle from here, and another statue. I think Luke has a thing for statues... he is probably gathering ideas in his head for how he wants to pose in his statue when he passes :-/

We walked south down Rua Augusta which is the main pedestrian and tourist street. This is where lots restaurants, tourist shops and retail shopping is. It is really amazing how few people were in Lisbon. During the summer, this street is probably packed! But there weren't many people during our visit. As we walked, we were approached at least five times about buying hashish. One time was really funny - Seller: "Watch?" Luke: "No." Seller: "Hashish????" Luke: "No." All right all right all right, it may not read that funny, but it was funny at the time (and we still laugh about it). Also as you walk down, you can see the Santa Justa Elevator from a side street.

Rua Augusta leads right up to the Triumphal Arch and Praça do Comércio. The arch is also listed as a miradouro because you can go to the top (for a fee) and see everything in that area. The square in front is another extremely large square, and it is located just across the street from the water. 

{In case you don't know, WC stands for water closet aka toilets.}
From here, we made our way to Alfama which is THE reason why Lisbon has been placed as one of my favorite cities we have visited. Come back later to get lost in those pictures!! :-)

Most of Baixa was constructed after 1755, when a big earthquake devastated Lisbon.

Other posts on Lisbon: Sneak Peek, Belem, Miradouros, AlfamaBairro Alto

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