Travel dates: April 24-5, 2017 Thanks to TAP Portugal airline, i have an overnight layover in Lisbon and can enjoy a bit of this awesome city on the way back to the USA. The plane from Barcelona arrives around sunset. From the airport it’s two trains on the metro to station Mãrques de Pombal and Urban Garden hostel. This hostel is cute and very welcoming. I arrive in time for “family dinner” – tonight, vegetarian ravioli with aubergine and peppers plus wine for 5 euros. It’s so delicious and the staff is friendly. Other guests plan their activities and outings offered by the hostel. I should have stayed longer.
Breakfast is pancakes and coffee, included in the cost for a night. Apparently today is Portugese Liberty Day and there are observances in this part of town. In the balmy Atlantic air, the national flag flies as i look out to the bay from the Miradour. Runners race past and groups sing in the parks.
Lisboa is sometimes compared to San Francisco, California due to its bayside location, hills, cable car-like tram, and a similar bridge, though this city has a softer climate and is a lot older. The tram goes uphill from the central plaza to Miradour São Pedro for the best views of Alfaba, the medieval district on the Rio Tajo and its bay. On the Miradour, a man plays Fado music, the emotive folk music of Portugal, on his guitar. On the hillside, street artists like YouthOne paint large pieces as part of a public art project.
For lunch, i eat typical foods like prego, a beef-garlic sandwich, and shrimp rissol, an empanada-like baked pastry. The buildings in the Bairro Alto are blue, red, yellow and covered in beautiful tiles. I’m just getting a taste of this charming old city when the clock says it’s time to go to the airport and i need to hurry.
Getting to the airport from the central plaza via the metro takes about 30 minutes and is difficult if you’re not familiar with Portugese language. For some reason it felt easier the other direction. With luck, i get to the gates in time for my TAP flight to New York.
The transatlantic flight includes a full hot meal and Portugese red wine. After we ascend over the mostly green countryside, i watch a video on Olissipo (Roman Lisboa) archaeology and the amphorae (ceramic urns) recovered from the Tagus estuary. Then i listen to classic Fado music by Amalia Rodrigues and others. TAP does well in promoting Portugese culture to its riders, and its service is also excellent. The airline offers one and two night layovers in Lisboa on transatlantic flights and visiting here is highly recommended. Lisboa is affordable with a large historic section and the climate is mild.
Amalia Rodriques, queen of Fado