Our second full day here in Lisbon started with a free walking tour I had booked. I had done them in Prague and Bratislava a few weeks ago and really enjoyed them. Learning about the history of the places we stood really helped me feel more connected to the city and understand the city in the context of Europe.
The meeting point was in the Chiado neighbourhood- named after Antonio Ribeiro, a 19th century continually drunk poet with a high-pitched voice (Chiado means squeaky).
Antonio Ribeiro Statue
The tour was led by Luis, a small but energetic 25-year old local who has lived in Mozambique and all around Europe before moving back to Lisbon to lead walking tours.
The tour was 3 hours long, but they really did fly by. Lisbon has enough interesting history to entertain for days from numerous invasions, revolutions and finding Brazil to how they stayed neutral in the Second World War by selling tungsten to the Nazi’s and lending land to the allies.
The tour also took us pass a bookshop, but not any old bookshop. The oldest bookshop in the world! (or universe as Luis put it).
On every travel website or book you look in the Santa Justa elevator is recommend as a much do. Yet both our tour guide and hotel receptionist said that it is overrated- yes it provides great views at the top but it’s not worth paying €5 to queue for half an hour to then go in a lift for a few seconds. So instead Luis led us to a staircase- after climbing for a few minutes we were right at the top of the elevator! No queues and no charge! The panoramic views gives you a real sense into how the streets of Lisbon were designed and you can pick out all the different, individual neighbourhoods.
After the tour ended at 2pm we grabbed some lunch and our first Portuguese custard tarts. As it was sunny we decided to catch a boat across the river to explore the city of Almada and walk up to Christ Rei (a 25m high statue of Christ which sits at the top of a hill). With my embarrassing seasickness in tow (it was a 5 minute river crossing) we started our walk. The Hill was deceptively huge and took a sweaty 45 minutes to reach the top. But boy was it worth it, although not religious myself it’s hard not to be impressed with the sheer size and architecture.
It costs €5 Euro’s to get a lift to the top, and if you’ve made it this far you might as well pay. Once you get to the top you are faced with a breathtaking 360 view.
After taking in the view at all angles and gawping at the ginormous statue ( which is based on Christ the Redeemer in Rio) we headed back down and started on the long walk home…