Lisbon

This is a post by David.

After a week of good food and good times in the Azores, we traded the grassy hills and volcanic lakes of São Miguel for the hustle and bustle of Lisbon, Portugal’s capital.

Lisbon is the quintessential European big city, not unlike Madrid. There are plenty of restaurants, museums, hotels, and shops along its cobblestone streets. We stayed in a friendly hostel, took a couple walking tours, and hunted out the best pastries and ginjinha (a local cherry liquor).

The Tall Ships were in Lisbon during this time, which is pretty funny since they were in Boston when we flew out. We decided to swing by the river Tejo to check them out, and we’re glad we did. We thought the Tall Ships were cool in Boston, but they were awesome here. Here’s a little comparison:

Boston

  • 5 tall ships
  • Boats close at 8pm
  • Navy SEALs parachute into a park
  • Blue Angels flyover
  • A tugboat pulls the USS Constitution out into the harbor and back
  • No alcohol allowed

Lisbon

  • 40 tall ships
  • Boats close at midnight, the but party doesn’t stop
  • Block party with rock bands playing all night
  • Sailor’s Parade where all the crews march through the city singing songs and waving banners
  • All the ships raise their sails and sail down the river together
  • Beer for €1

Don’t get me wrong, the Boston Tall Ships were pretty cool, but the fact is that Europeans know how to party.

Tall ships at sunset
A mermaid at the sailor’s parade

We took two day trips to nearby cities. The first was Sintra, possibly one of the most beautiful towns in Portugal (which Jenny already wrote about).

The other town we visited was Belém, just a half hour outside Lisbon. It was from Belém that so many famous voyages were made during Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Think back to middle school history: Vasco da Gama, Prince Henry the Navigator, Ferdinand Magellan, Bartolomeu Dias. All those guys were Portuguese and many started their voyage here, and the town is certainly proud of that fact. There is a huge monument to the explorers, a gigantic maritime museum, and an enormous church and monastery in tribute/thanks to the explorers.

Jenny posing with an explorer at the HUGE maritime museum
Tomb of Vasco da Gama

Overall, Lisbon was a pretty solid city. After leaving there we went south to the Algarve region…

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