What we chose to do in Lisbon

The lists of the best things to do in Lisbon stretch on and on and on. We couldn’t do everything, and actually we could do very little since we had decided to limit our Lisbon outings to a total of four daytrips.

We took the lists and crossed off every place that was 1) difficult to reach, 2) crowded at this peak time of year (as we’d had enough standing in lines), and 3) not holding great interest for us. Four places rose to the top beginning with the….

Day 1: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum 

We’d never heard of the museum, but those who had visited were enthusiastic in their reviews. Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian (1869-1955) was an extraordinary and eclectic art collector, originally from the Cappadochia region of Turkey. The museum is actually in two buildings – one with the Founder’s Collection (international and mostly old works) and the Modern Collection (19th Century to the present). In between and around them are lovely grounds with water features.

We stood back and admired the wonderful tapestry, then got up close to see: how did they do this? Amazing!

Our favorite work in the Modern Collection was Artur Rosa’s Evolution of a Square in a Logarithmic Mesh.

We took a very pleasant lunch break, a block away, at Café Nepalesa. In the late afternoon, we celebrated a wonderful day of art at the museum café, sipping our drinks at a table on the outdoor terrace.

We watched children playing nearby as their families gathered on the lawn to enjoy the late summer afternoon. We’re always surprised to see so many people (still) smoking (in public places). That took a bit of fun out of being in open air on a lovely summer day.

Why take the nearest metro train back and end the day so soon when we could further enjoy the late afternoon sun, taking a stroll through a nearby park?

On a high lookout at Parque Eduardo VII, we admired the view of Lisbon when we noticed dogs leaping over the hedges, retrieving balls for their owners. (Look a little right of center to see one starting the leap.) We watched for a long time and found it hard to leave.

Day 2: Wandering through Bairro Alto and Chiado

Instead of spending another day at a museum, we decided to stroll through some old neighborhoods in Lisbon to just see what we might see. We arrived at Cais Do Sodre train station on the Rio Tejo and wondered north. The streets turned to long flights of stairs upwards. We continued on. We didn’t check our map – we just kept walking.

Streets were narrow with only a few cars. Little restaurants lined the street, and we stopped here and there to take photos of interesting architectural features, tile, or graffiti.

We glanced up to see the sign “Rosa da Rua” and realized our wanderings had taken us – magically – straight to the restaurant where we had hoped to dine. What luck! Everything about the meal was quite splendid, and we left satisfied and happy.

We popped in to San Roque Church, visited a wonderful antique tile store on Rua Dom Pedro V, and then sat to rest in the Jardim do Principe Real in the shade of a great tree and listened to street musicians.

Day 3: Birdwatching with Birds & Nature Tours Portugal 

Our guide, Bernardo, picked us up at the train station, and soon we were watching birds in the area near Alcochete, north of Lisbon. We explored places we never would have come to on our own, with birds just waiting to be seen.

As we started to drive down a farm lane, Bernardo slowed the car and pointed to one of the cork trees. In the hole of the tree was a Little Owl, so small we almost missed seeing it. The aptly named little owl is only 22 cm (8.7 in) in length. It weighs in at about 180 grams (6.3 oz).

One aspect of a rewarding day of birdwatching is all the other things we get to see, like the cork trees.

A note about our day trips to Lisbon that you might have noticed: each day was quite different from the others. We don’t feel we really “saw” Lisbon as we might have, but really, who can in just a few days? But, we did get a favorable impression of the city, and we’re happy to say that there’s a lot more we’d like to see, worthy of a longer stay or return visit.

We’ll save the 4th day trip in Lisbon for the next post…stay tuned…..


August 2017

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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8 Responses to What we chose to do in Lisbon

  1. sounds like a great itinerary…when we were there, my entire itinerary was 1. eat spaghetti (I can see the question mark eyes!) 2. eat sardines (I am hoping you did this…next post??)

  2. icelandpenny says:

    So much worthy of comment! But I shall select… Join you in loving the “Evolution of a Square: work of art, think you caught that plume of smoke just right. Like you, I’m now somewhat started at the sight of people smoking…

  3. You’re right that each your of your days in Lisbon was completely different and gave you several facets of the city to experience and enjoy. I loved your story of wandering up and down Lisbon’s streets and ending up at the Rosa da Rua quite by chance. And how wonderful to see the little owl in the cork tree – that takes a seriously experienced birdwatcher to spot him! And hopefully, maybe this taste of Lisbon will tempt you to return someday! Anita

  4. An extremely lovely approach to ‘test the city’..

  5. Merrill says:

    Love the hedge jumping dogs at the Parque! Would love to return to Portugal.

  6. leggypeggy says:

    Thanks. Now we just have to get to Lisbon. Some day! 🙂

  7. A very pleasant way to ‘sample the city’.

  8. plaidcamper says:

    Lisbon is on our list, and this informative post confirms why. So much to see and experience! It’s been years since we’ve wandered irregular and winding lanes and streets in old Europe – quite miss it! Love the look and texture of the cork trees.

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