Thursday, July 28, 2011

European Adventure, Part 2: Lisbon Together

We arrived a couple of days before Erik's workshop to explore Lisbon together. Lisbon's "downtown" is in a small valley with the castle on one hillside and the Bairro Alto neighborhood on the other. We meandered through Bairro Alto on the first day, stumbling into a park with a glorious view of the Tagus River and the other hill that you see above. Our main target was lunch, and we finally found a place serving Portuguese food on a side street in the neighborhood. We wandered down into the center - Baixa - to stroll along the streets reserved for pedestrians.

Baixa was quite lovely and bustling with activity on a Saturday afternoon. We walked down to the riverfront square and took a pause for some photographs. As you can see, the weather was gorgeous - sunny and in the 80s - in stark contrast to the stifling heat at home (and the later chilly rain in Paris).

Among the more charming sights in Lisbon were the old trams. They were much more fun to watch than ride.

We continued to meander through the neighborhood, finding this clever solution to Lisbon's undulating streets - an outdoor elevator.

After exhausting ourselves to hasten adaptation and minimize jetlag, we rested up for our Sunday activities. We planned to meet a colleague of Erik's from the project and his family to investigate the Alfama district and castle (on the opposite hillside).

We explored the castle with Robert, Saadia, and Sophia. Carter and Sophia really enjoyed each other's company, playing in the castle and at the hotel.

They enjoyed the local peacocks and their babies (peachicks?).

Lea spied a church from high up on the castle, and we sought it out on the descent. It turned out to be the Cathedral of Santa Maria Maior, the oldest church in town (its construction began in the 12th century with several chapels and expanded to the current site). The church has been expanded over time and reconstructed after earthquakes (especially the 1755 temblor and tsunami that devastated the city).

We returned to Baixa for lunch, enjoying a Portuguese specialty - grilled sardines. During our visit to Portugal and France, we found several foods that measure up to the best in the world. The sardines were among the better dishes we had in Lisbon.

From Sunday night until the end of Tuesday, Erik participated in workshop events while Lea and Carter struck out on their own adventures. More on that later.

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