Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Belem, Alfama, and Sintra

Over the past three days we've seen some of the "touristic" sights around Lisbon.  Only a few of them though, as it's a big city.  Here are some highlights.

Belem -- along the Tagus River is an area of gardens, museums and a river walk.  We visited the Coach museum showing horse-drawn coaches from all over Europe going back 400 years. most of them were incredibly ornate along the lines of this one.

But the one below reminded us of Darth Vader.

Surprise: when we got back outside there were horse drawn carriages for hire.

We also visited a museum showing the history of electrical plant on the Tagus River. We could walk all around the huge building and see the coal fired boilers and condensers and all of that. Adjacent to that is the very modern Museum of Architecture and Culture, built right on the river bank. Within that building was an enormous oval room with huge screens showing video loops of water and traffic over bridges filmed from underneath along with sounds.  On the floor were a number of puffy mattresses where you could lie down and experience the sound and video. We spent a delightful 20 minutes resting our tired feet in the coolness of the gallery. 

Coming out of the gallery we found that the weather had changed. The photo above is looking west; the one below looking east along the same walk. Those clouds above have brought in much cooler, breezier weather--and I can't say I'm unhappy about it. Two days ago it was 90 degrees F in Lisbon.

Alfama -- one of the oldest parts of the city with narrow winding streets and a castle. Yesterday we rode up there to see the view and then wound our way down through the stairways and alleys

Sintra -- a charming town about 20 km away where nobility went to escape the city. We took a bus and a train to get there today, passing this huge aquaduct built in the 18th Century to supply drinking water to the city. Not sure if it's still in use, however.

Sintra is full of flowers and winding sidewalks and tourists of course.

Some of it was badly marked by graffiti though and many of the buildings seemed to be vacant. This was surprising as it's one of the prime tourist destinations. 

We visited this palace with the two tall towers, very unusual structures. They are actually chimneys built above the huge kitchens to remove the smoke. We toured this place and it's really lovely with hundreds of years of history and many Moorish elements as well as elaborate painted ceilings.  The photo on the right is part of the enormous kitchen. Those metal things are spits for roasting meats.

We've pretty well finished our sight-seeing now. Tomorrow is our last day in Lisbon and we'll just do a couple of little things nearby and get ready for the long flight back. We leave here at 4:30 am, then fly into London, then take another plane to Calgary and home. It's about a 24 hour trip.

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