Lisbon… Part 4

(Waiting for the bus)

We were pretty much finished in Lisbon after our scooter trip but before we left we had a Nata in Belém. No, not at the place with the queue. Then we waited for the bus.

(25th April bridge takes cars on top and trains underneath)

I mentioned previously that there was a transportation theme to our Lisbon tour. There was another theme: the 25th April bridge. So far we had driven over the bridge the previous Thursday, sailed past it in the ferry that morning, sat underneath it between scooter trips in the afternoon and now we were going under it.

(Red ticket machine and green ticket machine. The red one is for going over the bridge)

The 25th April bridge is a double decker bridge and the train between Setúbal and Lisbon goes under the motor vehicle deck of the bridge. We took a bus to Campolide station, north of the city. At first we couldn’t find the right ticket machine or the right line but eventually we spotted the colours of the machines were different… there were two train lines.

(Although we got very close to trams we never did get on one…)

The train is a two level commuter train and it was packed so I have no pictures but if you get a chance it’s well worth travelling on it to see unrestricted views up and down the estuary. Stand near the doors for the best views. Two stops are we were back at the beginning.

We walked home, tired and sun-burned but happy, Mairead.

Lisbon by Train, Boat, Tram and Scooter – Part 2

(Long queues to get on Ascenoir da Glória)

You might be already aware of a transport theme on our tour and as soon as we had descended the Ascenoir da Gloria we went in search of our next vehicle. I was hopeful we would be ascending this time but it was not to be. (Top Guide Tip: Saturday’s are busy, you may encounter long queues, consider moving your tour to a weekday.) Our next stop was the Elevador de Santa Justa. This is a lift and was built in 1899 to take the citizens of Lisbon up the steep hill. It’s still doing that nearly 120 years later.

(Elevador de Santa Justa from the back)

The queue snaked around the lift and up the path. It would be along wait as the lift could only take 29 passengers. My “client” said he was ready for lunch so we moved on.

(Queue to go on the Elevador de Santa Justa)

You remember yesterday the Time Out Market was closed when we got there? It would be open now. Again just an 18 minute walk and now we knew it was downhill. There’s a lot to be said for getting things wrong.

(Tables and chairs in the middle…)

While we were away the place filled up and there was hardly a chair free at the many tables. First things first we had to pick a meal. This involves walking by the many restaurant sections along the walls and checking out their menus. Then you make your decision, queue up, place your order, pay and get a beeper thingy. Then you search for a seat.

(…restaurants along the walls)

It was actually easy enough to find a place as people were coming and going all the time. We found a spot on the edge and settled in. Everything is cooked fresh so it was about twenty minutes before the beeper called us back to collect our food. The food is more expensive than we have paid in Portugal up to this.

(Time Out Market is attached to the old food market called Mercado da Ribeira)

Very soon people were joining our table and we had a lovely  chat with a couple who were originally from Taiwan but now living in California. He’d been to Ireland once for a day. It was a work thing and he’d flown in to Shannon, he couldn’t remember the name of the company but he remembers the cows in the fields. I loved that. It’s exactly what I’d want people to remember from a quick trip to Ireland. His wife was a programmer and Denis and she were conversing in letter groups and pretty words like  C++ and Java, as you do.

(A gun shop)

The whole guide and client thing broke down a bit after that. (Top Tip: Set your price early so there are no surprises or ill feeling between guide and client.) Denis had spotted something as we were coming through the ferry port in the morning. Scooters. Not the motorbike scooters. Scooters like the ones we had as children, two wheels, handlebars, no seat, one foot on the running board, other foot pushing off the ground to help you scoot along? Remember? Well those but electric… so they go at speed.

(Do not be fooled by how sweet they look.)

Not sure if you have gathered this from me but I’m not fearless. To be clear, I mean I am fearful. More like fear-FULL. There was no way I was going on one of those things. In a city. Maybe, maybe, possibly I would try one inside the walls of a well-padded room. With carpets. But there was no way I was going to get up on one in Lisbon. I had planned the next part of the journey by tram along the coast to Belem. I was going to take the pictures I had promised you of the people queueing for the Pastel de Nata’s from the original bakery near the Jeronimos Monastery where they were invented. It was a good plan. Everyone would have been happy.

Suffice to say, Denis wore me down, Mairead.

Lisbon by Train, Boat, Tram and Scooter – Part 1

(Love the colours. Cafe near the train station at Cais Sodré)

We went to Lisbon on Saturday. If you remember I was to be the tour guide and Denis the tourist. We set off at 8.30am to get the metro train (tram) from Corroios. Corroios turned out to be a bit of a hub for transport. There was a train north to Lisbon or south to Setúbal (also worth going to, tell you soon). There was also the metro tram train that went to Cacilhas and the ferry port. Also a bus just across the road from our parking spot going into central Lisbon. Then more busses within a twenty minutes walk.

(From the ferry, see the bridge?)

We were taking the ferry! It’s a passenger ferry that takes commuters from the south side of the estuary to the Lisbon side. Plus there’s a bonus – it’s two minutes walk from the port to the Time Out Market. Denis loves this place so it was to be our first stop. It’s an old food market with a new section with restaurants. It’s like an upmarket food court for good food from Portugal. We arrived about 9.45am but it wasn’t open yet.

(The outside of Time Out)

If you decide to run your own tour you might want to check the opening times of the attractions. Fortunately, I had built a little flexibility into my planning (sure I had) and there was a cafe on the outside so we loaded up with coffee and cake. Course we did.

(See the sea in the distance? That’s how far we’d walked and we weren’t there yet…)

Then we walked to the next attraction. It was only an 18 minute walk… but it was uphill and the temperature was rising. (Top tour guide tip: check the gradient of walks, over a certain percentage your clients may need public transportation.) My plan was to walk to the Ascensor Da Glória. You may not know this but Lisbon is built on seven hills. We were getting to know theses hills, exhaustively. My next two attractions were very old ways the people of Lisbon invented to cope with their hills. The Ascensor Da Glória is an old, old tram (technically not a funicular, seemingly) that travels up an impossible incline so you don’t have to.

(There it is, ascending)

We were almost there. I was following google maps and we had just one more street to go and it looked pretty straight on the map so no room for error. Well no room for that kind of error, I had made a different kind of error. I couldn’t believe it. We had arrived at the top! Google maps was directing me to the bottom of the incline via the route of the tram…

(There’s the driver and his empty Ascensor da Glória)

But Denis didn’t know that… hey look at this! Yes lovely. We waited for 190 (felt like it) people to get off and then the two of us, the driver and a local got on. No one, no one goes down the Ascensor da Glória, the hint is in the name. But hey, remember the best tours take you where the locals go, the locals go down, only the tourists go up!

Tour guide in training, Mairead.

Tour Guide for Hire

(Marigolds from Sintra)

We’re going into Lisbon tomorrow and I’ve a great tour organized for Denis. Isabel can’t make it so I’ll be the guide but he doesn’t know that yet. (I used to be a guide on the Rock of Cashel, did I tell you? I did? That many times? Oh right.) There’ll be food and coffee and many different forms of transportation. There’ll be stories, some of them true. There’ll be lots of walking and chances to engage with the locals.

(Twilight in Mafra)

That will be tomorrow, yesterday we parked in a residential area on the other side of the river from Lisbon. We were planning to go into the city but it was Freedom Day so everything was closed. You might remember Freedom Day from last year? We sure do. We were in a small town in the Algarve waiting for Ruby’s clutch to be fixed. Everything was closed.

(Aqueduct on the motorway)

That was last year, today we are happy in the suburbs and we’re getting to know the locals. I discovered (via google) that there is a coffee called um abatanado which is very like an americano so I order it every time now. Unfortunately, something about all the a’s in it gets me mixed up. I say ambatono or abentoto or anando. None of which is correct but because my efforts are always combined with a help-me-out-here pained expression I am generously understood.

(Organic wall, Alcobaça)

One of the things we loved the most about going on tour with Isabel in Porto was connecting with the locals and we sometimes forget we get to do that with every coffee experience. So I’ll definitely be including lots of coffee experiences tomorrow.

Say it with me, Um abat-an-a-do por favor. Mairead.

(There we are south of the river (estuary?) free parking, free water, 10 minutes walk to train or 1 minute walk to bus for Lisbon)

The inevitable happened…

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(I’ve run out of photos in Lisboa, so here’s even more narrow roads from Ericeira)

Still having a great time at the workshop. Here’s more news about my travel experiences. I took the bus-metro combination again today so I was singing songs again and I’m getting louder. This isn’t a problem because I travel across the big white up in the sky bridge very slowly and most people have reached the other side while I am getting to the top of the steps. In other words there’s no one around.

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(Modern mosaic…)

It was raining at the time so when I got into the metro I took off my coat and stuffed it into my rucksack. When I was getting out I realised my ticket was in my coat in my rucksack so I took out my coat again. I was distracted and I forgot to close up my rucksack. Disaster, my purse and my phone were at on top. The inevitable happened…. I was standing by the door waiting for my stop when a young girl tapped my arm. I turned but didn’t understand what she said. She persisted and pointed behind me. I looked at the seat I had vacated but there was nothing there. She tried again using English: your bag is open.

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(This way…)

Oh… and it was open. I thanked her in English and Portuguese and we both smiled. When the doors opened I turned back to wave and she said, have a nice day. It was such a small thing but it felt really big. We had a moment of smiling again and I said, You, have an especially nice day!

The inevitable thing that happens… is kindness, Mairead.

Singing in the Metro

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(Can we eat now?)

Denis is very good when it comes to understanding metro maps and finding his way around so I usually leave him to it but as I would be on my own next week navigating Lisbon I decided to pay attention to where I would be going and to study the map last night. It wasn’t too difficult because I really like the names of the lines… well my version of the names… My own special name for the pink line is Vermillion, what a lovely word! For the blue line Azure, again, lovely word. For the yellow line, I think of the song Do you know the way to Amarillo… every night I’ve been hugging my pillow. Who would not be happy singing metro stations? And finally Verde and that’s the original name because I love green tea (Châ Verde). The actual names are Pink Line: Vermelha; Blue Line: Azul; Yellow Line: Amarela and Green Line: Verde

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(Here comes the train)

So off we went to Lisboa this morning. We were testing out my commute for next week. We walked 20 minutes to the station and got the train to the Metro at Oriente which is on the Vermillion Line. We travelled to Saldanha and then changed to the Do you know the way to Amarillo… every night I’ve been hugging my pillow Line and got off at Rato (which funnily enough is the word for mouse, including a computer mouse!) then we walked to the hotel. We had left Ruby at the campsite in Vila Franca de Xira at 9am and arrived at the hotel where the workshop would be taking place at 11am… That would be a two-hour commute… might have to try something else.

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(Can you see the stalls running along the wall on the right? And the communal tables in the middle)

After that Denis needed a treat. So we got back on the Do you know the way to Amarillo… every night I’ve been hugging my pillow Line, changed to the Azure Line and then onto the Verde Line and went to the Time Out Market. We had seen this good food market on a program called Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix and it looked like a good place to see and taste lots of different foods.

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(The tinned sardine stall… but they had no sardines for some reason, lots of other fish though)

It’s very busy and there’s lots of choice. The food stalls are all around the walls and you walk around and pick what you want. You pay for it and you get a plastic thingy that flashes when your food is ready. While you’re waiting you find a free space at huge tables in the center. It’s a unique experience.

With all the metro lines memorised we’re ready to move on tomorrow and return to Lisboa next week, Mairead.

Return to Vila Franca de Xira

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(Ponte Marechal Carmona bridge over the Rio Tejo at Vila Franca de Xira)

Next week I will be attending the creativity workshop I mentioned in a previous post so we need to find a place to park Denis and Ruby while I attend. We think we found the place. It reminds me of home, for a couple of reasons. One, the campsite is a 20 minute walk to the train station where you can catch a train to the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. We live a 20 minute walk from the train station in Greystones where you can catch a train to bring you to the capital of Ireland, Dublin!

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(See the footbridge? Above the Chinese symbols? Hello, the walkers!)

Two, back in 2016 I got an opportunity to travel a section of the Portuguese route of the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon with a lovely group of very experienced Camino walkers from Greystones. As we drove into town this morning, I remembered being here before. Now from the campsite I can see the foot bridge over the train tracks that took us from a busy dual carriageway to a dusty track on the route to the town of Azambuja. Nice memories.

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(Can you see the river through the trees? Remember the one that was flooding a few days ago? That flows through Lisbon? I was calling it the Tagus but in Portuguese it’s called the Rio Tejo. We’re probably safe enough up here…)

Tomorrow we are having a practice run to Lisbon and this morning I went down to the station to buy the tickets. The campsite manager had given me instructions for getting a travel card that can be topped up so I went straight up to the desk at the station with my instructions. When they realised I was speaking English a second man arrived and asked, Is this for travel today?

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(It’s very quiet in the campsite)

Me: No we are going tomorrow.

Man: Ah, ok. The reason I ask you about travel today is that there is a strike.

Me: Oh. Will there be a strike tomorrow?

Man: No, not tomorrow.

Me:  That’s great. (Big smile, turning into quizzical frown…) What about next week?

Man: No, not next week, the week after.

ME: (Very big smile) That’s really great! Obrigada!

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(Precious water)

Isn’t that perfect, the strike is today, before the workshop and again after the workshop but not during the workshop. I think we picked a good place and a good transport option. But, as I am of a certain age and have experienced Ireland of the 80’s, I seems to remember the very essence of a strike can necessitate surprise action…

Baring all surprises I will indeed be able to travel from here to Lisbon by train for my workshop! Mairead.