Lisbon, the capital of Portugal is geograpically the west most capital city in Europe. It shares the same timezone as Great Britian. Perhaps Portugal in the past has been more familiar for explorers like Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco Da Gama and Afonso de Albuquerque, who built the A Formosa fort in Malacca, Malaysia. In modern times however, Lufthansa flew us to Lisbon in slightly over 3 hours.
Thanks to its ascention into the European Union, Portugal uses the Euro and a passport is not required for travel. This makes the displeasure of travel associated with customs or immigration inspections a non event. Public transportation using the bus, tram and underground is a snap and relatively inexpensive.
There were many districts around Lisbon, each with its quaint lifestyle, characterised by mosaic tiles and tiled facades which made Portuguese lifestyle famous. We spent a lot of time in one section of the city called Ciado filled with quaint city stores, pedesterian walks and historical buildings alike. The "hop on - hop off" bus service was something we used often until we found how to operate the public transport system.
In any case, with only 600,000 inhabitants Lisbon can be considered a small city. It did however, host the World Expo 1998 - a site which is now home the Oceanoc observatory, The Atlantic Arenal which looks more like the saucer section of Star Trek Voyager. Have a look in the "Images of Lisbon", you'll see what I mean.
So, what did we see in Lisbon? Stacks, there are churches, castles and fortresses of course which help the Portuguese protect their city from invades in the bygone era. The main streets as I've mentioned earlier and so are the myriad of squares and historic buildings which line the squares. One example is the Rissio Square which sits in the middle of the city. Apart from the Hard Rock Cafe, the Dona Maria II National Theater is also located on the fringe of the square. Within the square are two baroque fountains and a 27 meter high monument with Dom Pedro IV on top of it. The monument has 4 pedestrials depicting the qualities of Dom Pedro IV - Justice, Wisdom, Strength, and Moderation.
What we did enjoy visiting was Belém Tower, a boot shaped UNESCO listed World Heritage monument that was a fortress at the head of Lisbon harbour. Apparently, this tower was the last sight by many sailors of their homeland before their journey of discovery. The Belém Tower is Lisbon's iconic symbol of the Age of Disovery.
Unfortunately, we missed seeting the inside of all 4 Palaces in Lisbon, we simply ran out of time. We were however able to visit Sé do Lisboa (The Lisbon Cathedral), Lisbon's oldest building which dated back to 1150. Obviously, this building wasn't destroyed by the great earthquake in 1755. We also spent time at the Castelo Sao Jorge.
All in all, we had a fun time in Lisbon. We enjoyd the meals, sights and history of this wonderful city. It's worth visiting if you are in Europe but I would put cities like Florence; Venice, Milan, Munich, Paris etc.. ahead of it. This is still some work to go when it comes to "entertainment value" but the trip was nevertheless, fun!
We discovered a few things about some of the things in Portugal ...
Chicken Peri Peri, the spicy flamed barbeque chook made famous by the Portugese settlement in Malacca (incidentally, the one in Malacca is called Portugese flying flaming chicken as sold at the Portuguese Settlement in Ujung Pasir, Malacca, Malaysia), Nando's Chicken chain throughout Malaysia, Australia and South Africa originated from here. We had the plesaure to taste the original chicken and it was deliscious, tender and juicy - especially when taken with the famous Peri Peri sauce.
The Chinese Custard Egg Tart - came from Portugal. Here, its called the Pastéis de Nata which looks exactly like the ones sold in throughout Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Chinatown in Melbourne and Sydney. The only thing is that the egg custard is that it is more startched hardened and does not therefore taste as good. In fact you stop eating half way through the first bite after realising its not the same as what you know.
When you travel around Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong you'll notice that people often hang their washing out to dry in the front of their homes. Well, we can blame the Portugese for this as this is what they do too - except that this is Europe and something we don't really expect.
We hope you enjoy this edition.
Jeanette and Raymond Han
Note that images have a 24 bit colour depth, requiring both Adobe Flash and Shockwave to work. It works best when viewed through systems appropriately configured
The Atlantic Pavilion
or the Spaceship as it was known in Lisbon World Expo 1998
today, its the Vasgo Da Gama Shopping Mall