Taking a walk

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One of the many tranquil gardens in the old town – all of which had spectacular views.

Surprisingly, I managed to wake up fairly early this morning. Maybe it was the hostel’s offering of free breakfast subconsciously working its magic, but I was up. What didn’t surprise me was that the people I saw at breakfast were not the same people I saw out last night! Well, they weren’t at least until one of them stumbled in clutching his forehead and looking a little worse for wear. Turns out he was suffering from a Jack Daniel’s-induced hangover!

Every morning, there’s a walking tour from YES! Hostel. It’s scheduled to start at 10:30, but it’s almost 11 by the time we’re ready to go. Apparently, this is the norm. Today, it was Rui’s turn to do the walking tour, and it turns out it was his first time doing it… no pressure then!

We walked over to the Praça do Comércio and had some brief introductions (our names, where we were from, and why we wanted to visit Lisbon). Rui also explained a few things about Lisbon for us and, in his own words; “I’m not telling you where to buy drugs, but don’t buy from these guys on the street. They’re selling you oregano and crushed sugar.”

Vantage points seemed to be a theme of this tour, and we headed uphill from the hostel (with some help from a couple of lifts). Pretty soon, we arrived at the first proper photo opportunity.

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The weather today was definitely better than yesterday! 🙂

As well as vantage points, another theme of this tour seemed to be hills. Rui explained that a few of his friends lost weight when they moved to Lisbon from the walking alone!

As we continued walking up, we encountered São Jorge Castle. If you visit Lisbon and don’t hear anything about the earthquake of 1755, then you’ve learned absolutely nothing! The earthquake was about 9 on the Richter scale and caused widespread damage all across the city. On its own, this would have been substantial but, out in the Atlantic, the plate shift displaced huge amount of water and a tidal wave headed straight for Lisbon. As if that wasn’t enough, this was followed by fires all across the city.

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One of the entrances to São Jorge Castle. Notice the post-earthquake date.

So because of this, buildings still standing since before 1755 are noteworthy in themselves. São Jorge Castle has been extensively renovated since the earthquake… which is more than can be said about some castles in the UK that haven’t suffered earthquake damage!

We didn’t spend any time in the castle and just admired it for a moment from the outside before we continued onwards. It was at this point that I noticed I was the only one wearing just a shirt (I was carrying my jacket). I felt a bit warm, but I guess this was cold by Lisbon standards! As we continued, we came to a patch of green in the middle of the old town (the one in the featured photo).

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Hashtag “Tree for a better world”

With this vantage point came another photo opportunity. I was impressed with the last one, but this one did also have its charms. It certainly felt very continental, and the weather today was just so beautiful (I’m from Wales, so I’m easily impressed!) Whenever you look back at photos, it’s so easy to forget that the body of water is, in fact, a river. The sea is a few miles to the west.

It’s okay. I did see the sea when I was in Sintra yesterday. We even stopped for a minute at a beach in Cascais… not that the weather was conducive to any beachgoing!

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Another beautiful vantage point.

As we continued, I noticed we were walking in amongst some narrow streets with houses on them. It’s sometimes so easy to forget, as a tourist, that there are people actually living here. They’re not decorating their houses and making them pretty for us to see – they’re decorating them and making them pretty because that’s where they live and they’re taking pride in their own home.

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Some classic Portuguese house decoration.

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It wouldn’t be a trip to Lisbon without seeing a tram.

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I love the contrast of the building against the clear blue sky here.

The tour actually went on for quite a bit. I know it’s difficult to get a sense of scale from a blog post, but this took us well over two hours. We eventually finished the tour at the Igreja de Santo António. It was at this point that some of us parted ways, but I headed back to the hostel, along with a few others, because I was planning to head over to Belém with one specific thing in mind!

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