Portugal - charming Lisbon
Since very long, Portugal had been on our "must-visit-list". Lisbon was one of the top destinations on our bucket list. But for many reasons we somehow never made it there. So, this spring seemed to be the perfect time: new country to visit! But somehow, in our travel plans, Lisbon did not fit in. We had 7 days of holiday (more was simply not possible due to job issues). As our spiritual master was giving darshan on the Azores Islands and in Fatima, these 2 destinations were obivous. But as we could simply not find a cheap flight back from Lisbon, it looked like we would miss Lisbon this time.
And then the big surprise: 3 days before departure, our flight plans were changed. We were expected to fly to the Azores via Lisbon on 2nd of may in the evening. But due to some airline strikes, our flight went from Switzerland to Lisbon in the morning with a 7,5 hour stopover in Lisbon. The ongoing flight to the Azores was late in the evening. And we have to admit, Lisbon is making a stopover easy and incredably cheap. For 3,50 Euros per person you get a bus ticket valid for 24 hours (inlcuding return tickets). After 35 minutes we arrived from the airport BANG - in the middle of action of Lisbon: at the Praca do Comercio. Wow - this square is amazing. Bright sunshine, white buildings, the blue river Tejo and a relaxed atmosphere welcomed us. We have to admit - that was love at first sight! Some odl tramways start at this square, the riverfront is just in front and one can see the Castelo up on the hill. And arriving from cold, rainy Switzerland - the summer breeze was more than welcome. We just soaked in the atmosphere.
Well, we have to admit, we were not really organized and prepared to visit the city. So we did the only right thing - we just let us guide by our mood and feelings. After hanging around at the riverfront, we walked up the hill through Alfama with its cobblestone pavements, old tramways and fantastiv miradouro (viewpoints). Simply great. We did not visit the castle and preferred to walk down the Praca Rossio and the area Baixa. We could not make it to Barrio Alto. Our time was limited. But we found, to our big surprise, a delicious vegan restaurant and had a perfect treat before walking down along Avenida da Ribeira das Naus.
Lisbon has a great atmosphere. We loved the buildings, the tramways on the hills, the many different square with lovely cafés. And there are indeed some vegan or vegetarian restaurants. As we later discovered, this is a rare thing in Portugal. From the bus, the Avenida da Liberdade and the area around the Botanical Garden and Praca dos Restauradores looked very inviting. For sure, we will come back again with some more time. That means, enough time to also visit the nearby city of Sintra. But for this time, we were more than happy to have had the possibility of at least visiting some parts of Lisbon. With huge smiles, we took the bus back to the airport, picked up our luggage from the lockers and boarded our flight to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel, our destination on the Azores Islands.