First Visit to Europe: Lisbon

This is my seventh post about our family's first trip to Europe. You can find the first post from this trip here and links to all the educational US travel we have done here.


One of my favorite things about cruising is that your hotel room floats from city to city while you sleep. I love not having to waste time packing and unpacking, waiting for planes, dealing with traffic, etc. As far as watching the scenery go by, which some people mention as a benefit to car, bus, or train travel, on a ship you can spend as much time watching scenery as you want. When the scenery is particularly beautiful, interesting, historic, or otherwise noteworthy, one of the ship's staff will often narrate what you're seeing. 

Such was the case as we sailed into Lisbon, Portugal on Friday, April 12. We had about an hour of commentary as we navigated the Tagus River toward the port.  

Do either the bridge or the statue look familiar to you? Lisbon's Cristo Rei statue was inspired by Rio's more famous Christ the Redeemer. The 25th April Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Europe, was designed by the same company that designed San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge. 

Once we docked, we headed ashore for a "strenuous" walking tour of Lisbon. Usually, cruise ship shore excursions labeled strenuous are easy for us, not because we're in great shape (Trevor is, Steve and I are not), but because the bar for strenuous is really low. We've found that as long as you're fully mobile, can go up and down a couple flights of stairs, can walk a mile or so without stopping, and are steady on uneven ground, then you're totally OK for strenuous. (I'm constantly amazed by people who sign up for strenuous tours and announce 2 minutes into it that they can't do stairs, or need the guide to slow down. Don't do this. It's rude and inconvenient. This happened on two of the three strenuous tours we took.)

Anyway, none of the tours we took would be considered strenuous in the normal world, with the possible exception of the tour in Lisbon. Why? First and foremost, Lisbon is very hilly. Second, our guide was determined for us to "be like Lisboners," which meant walking swiftly up every possible hill. We started out in the oldest part of town, where the streets were uneven, steep, and narrow (to say the least).

This was one of the wider, flatter streets.

As we walked, we learned all about the history of this very interesting city. We saw countless examples of the beautiful tiles that decorate many buildings.

We saw countless examples of fado, the music of Portugal. We saw artwork, advertisements, and signs. 

We also saw countless examples of the colorful locals. This area was once the fishing district, and women would sell the fish their husbands caught by loudly yelling what they had to offer. The fish are gone, but the custom of yelling what they're selling remains. This was a bit odd, given that the streets were so narrow, as they were pretty much yelling directly in our ears. Not how I like to shop, but hey. When in Lisbon, do as the Lisboners do, I guess!

And apparently the Lisboners do a lot of walking. We walked to the Sé, Lisbon's cathedral. 


Check out the tile.

As we walked, we entered the newer areas with wider streets.

Then we visited the Baixa district. This area is heavily focused on tourists and features lots of restaurants and shopping opportunities.

We were mesmerized by the tile in the square.

We were equally mesmerized by 'The Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines.' 


I have no explanation. 

This was interesting, too. It's the smallest store in Lisbon. The customer's left shoulder is touching the back wall. The employee is at that ticket counter thing on the right. The only products they sell are gloves, displayed in the front windows. They're custom-made, so apparently you pick your design, then step inside to order them, then they're made behind the counter for pick-up later. 

We continued our walk uphill, finally reaching this scenic vista. That's the Castle of St. George at top left. 

The description of our tour mentioned a funicular ride, but we hadn't been on one yet. And we were now at the highest point around. Silly me for assuming we'd ride a funicular UP the hill. We actually rode it DOWN!

We walked around a bit more, trying to soak it all in. 

All too soon, it was time to sail away and say adeus to Portugal. 

April 13 and 14 were sea days, as we rounded the westernmost part of Europe and headed up the English Channel. Tomorrow, France.


  1. Wow!! I can see why they mostly walk ... those streets are narrow!!!! And funny, we both know a store here that ONLY sold custom gloves would be out of business in no time, because we have the convenience of cheaper places to buy just regular gloves. LOVING all the photos!! Looks like a beautiful city!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing. One of the places I want to visit someday.


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