On my recent early bird rotation I had the pleasure to visit one of my dearest European metropoles that I only get to overnight at once a year: The beautiful Lisbon. Having been betrayed by an entire hour due to un unexpected delay in operations, I could definitely think of a more relaxed way to explore the gorgeous little side streets hill upwards around the amazing historic downtown area. But if a few hours in the late afternoon is all that you have, go out and make the best of it.
I could hardly keep my eyes open when I finally reached my hotel room, but it was the last night of the tour and I was in one of the finest travel destinations that Europe has to offer. So there really was no choice than to quickly hop into the shower and take off to head over to a place that I had not managed to visit during earlier times. The Castelo de S. Jorge.
As always, I decided to walk in order to fill my lungs with as much of fresh air as possible. The neighborhood around the fortress is particularly picturesque with dozens of tiny little alleys lined by astonishingly tiled house facades that I could spend strolling around for weeks. And you would still discover something new around each corner.
To ease the climb, you could, of course, take a ride in the historic Elevador Castelo. I decided to take the narrow stairs though, running right next to the tracks of these surreal trams.
From the rooftop of the Miradouro de Chao do Loureiro car park I happened to find a beautiful panoramic view over the roofs of Lisbon and the Tajo Bay and the Almada. You can enter this viewing spot right at the Elevador Baixa and there also is a small kiosk where you can get drinks and coffee to enjoy at one of the tables.
From here, it was only a short walk up the hill to the entry of the Castelo. By the time I finally made my way there, a long queue had formed at the cashier to enter the fortress from where you are supposed to have an amazing vista over the city and the entire area. But something I really cannot deal with when being tired is waiting in line with tons of people. So I spontaneously decided to skip the visit and discover the neighborhood around the castle itself.
There are quite a few restaurants and cafés that group around small squares or little back alleys, but for Lisbon conditions these come completely overpriced and quite touristic. So I decided to post-pone my needs to a later time.
It was actually luck that brought me to the small playground Miradouro do Recolhimento that will reward you with an excellent view over the port and the eastern suburbs of Lisbon with the impressive Monastery of Sao Vicente of Fora towering above. You also have a wonderful insight into the famous Graffiti ruins underneath.
It was already early evening and I was starving, yet the view and the low sun created a wonderful atmosphere that I simply could not resist for a few more moments. I grabbed my bottle of water and sat down on the stonewall to the side of the terrace and stared with enlightenment for a little while.
From here, I continued to the popular outlook of Portas do Sol which lies just a few minutes walk away. As most people concentrate on the vista from the observation terrace, only a few individuals find their way down the stairs to the public toilets underneath.
But it is not the restrooms that are worth a visit. It is the colorful graffiti called “History of Lisbon” that definitely is an eye-catcher.
At this time, my stomach was revolting! It was already after six and absolutely time for dinner as I really needed to catch a few hours of sleep before starting the last day of the tour in the middle of the night.
I found my way back down the hill and finally settled in one of the restaurants facing the massive facade of the Sé de Lisboa cathedral. An assorted plate of Portuguese cheeses, sausages and hams were just the perfect dinner along with a stuffed bread, which also is a local delicacy. To my own surprise, I did eat the whole thing. I was not able to move afterwards, let me assure you!
I was completely crashed when I returned back to the hotel around 8 pm. Yet these few hours of sunshine were just the right thing to brighten up my mind and prepare for the grey autumn months that were waiting for me back home.
One thing became quite clear during these few hours though: I really, really have to plan a longer stay sometimes in the near future. The colors of Lisbon have casted their spell on me. And they will on you!