Day 10 of our Holland America cruise on the ms Rotterdam found us cruising the Tagus River en route to our sixth port of call, Lisbon, Portugal.
We were forewarned that Lisbon was hilly (an extreme understatement) but we were unprepared for the confounding narrow winding streets that kept us lost for most of our visit. We set off to find the Castelo de São Jorge (St George’s Castle) believing we’d find it if we just kept heading uphill because it’s above the city and supposedly visible from anywhere. (Not so.) Even maps and the innate male sense of direction failed us in our search but we eventually arrived and saw plenty along the way.
The cable car illustrates how narrow these streets really are. In fact, in some places, it’s necessary to press into a doorway to get out of the way. Fortunately, the clang of the bell and rumble on the track warn pedestrians.
One of the places we found by chance was the Lisbon Cathedral. Founded in 1147, it is the oldest church in Lisbon.
We knew there was an elevator to assist visitors to reach the level of the castle and we finally found it adjacent to a grocery store but I couldn’t lead you back there if my life depended on it. We’d have just as easily taken the street, but this little oddity intrigued us enough that we wanted to experience it.
When we arrived inside the gate of the Castle, we were greeted by a surprise which made our search totally worthwhile.
Always willing to try new things, we, of course, purchased a glass which we got to keep and the view was thrown in for free.
Tickets for the castle were €8.50 and worth every penny. Although named for St. George, the patron saint of England in the 14th century, the castle was built by Arabs in the 11th century. Many were here before that, however, including Phoenicians, Romans, and Visigoths.
Peacocks roaming the grounds were an unexpected bonus with their vibrant plumage which they obstinately refused to spread for our photos.
Needless to say, it was easier finding our way back to the ship as we headed downhill toward the water.
We had tickets that evening at Fado in Chiado for the show. Fado is a music genre that originated in Lisbon in the early 19th century. The word fado means fate in Portuguese and the music performed by a soloist accompanied by acoustic guitar, sounds mournful and full of longing. It is so symbolic of the Portuguese identity that UNESCO inscribed it to its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Naturally, photography and videotaping were not allowed during the performance but I found a sample on YouTube for you to enjoy.
For more in Lisbon, come back next time.
Based on events from May 2016.