Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Very Wet Wednesday in Lisbon

We awakened thinking today would be an improvement on yesterday – and to some degree it was. We were actually able to walk across the room without falling over! The skies were gray, but no rain at that point. We had breakfast in our room and just enjoyed a lazy morning since we knew our afternoon would be spent out. We started up the Tagus River where we would dock. On approach you could see this large suspension bridge which looked very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge. We found out later during our tour that it was in fact built by the same company. We saw a number of landmarks as we came up the river one of which used to be the stopping point for all of the ships coming in and out of Lisbon. There is also a large moment called Christ the King which commemorates Portugal's neutrality in WWII.

We went up to get an early lunch since we had to meet for our tour at 2:00 pm. We noticed it had gotten a bit darker out, but that still didn’t prepare us for what Mother Nature had in store. We had to walk from the ship to the terminal (about 100 yards) in the pouring down rain that was being driven sideways by 50 mph gusts of wind. I wish we could have seen ourselves because I’m sure it was amusing. We had an umbrella which proved useless and we were both totally soaked by the time we got on the bus. We were really having second thoughts about the excursion at this point! We started with a motor coach tour of the city. There was a severe earthquake back in 1755 which destroyed 80% of Lisbon, so most of the buildings date after that time. One portion of the monastery still stands and dates back to the 1500s. The city is actually very hilly and has three funicular services. Along with Rome, it is called the city of seven hills. After the earthquake the city had to be rebuilt from nothing so the Marquess of Pombal designed the new city to make more sense with parallel streets, buildings that are all about the same height, etc. Instead of being painted, the exterior of many buildings are covered in glazed tile. The buildings that are painted and done so in very bright colors mainly pink and yellow. The sidewalks are done in these beautiful patterns of black and white stones, in fact they have a school for learning this trade. There are different patterns corresponding to different areas of the city.

After our motor coach tour we boarded a tram for the second part of our tour. These have been running in Lisbon for over 100 years and are still a popular form of mass transit. They run on electric but have the “feel” of a cable car. Some of the streets we went up (and down) were barely wide enough to handle the tram and then you would look next to you and a car would be right there! At points we couldn’t even look out the window. Of course it was pouring down rain during most of the afternoon so it was hard to see many of the sights and even more difficult to get decent pictures. While on the tram we had a snack of port wine and a special type of Portuguese pastry, it was all very good.

After this portion of the trip it was time to return to the ship and of course face the pelting rain once again. We managed to get back on board but the wind and rain just about knocked us over this time!

Poor Mom had about had it at this point, but at least we were able to go back to our suite and put on some dry clothes. Prakasan had brought us some canapés for a snack which was a welcomed treat. There was a show at 8:45 so we decided to forego dinner in the Queen’s Grille and go down to the Kings Court which is more of a cafeteria environment and much faster which allowed up to make it up to the theater by 8:30. Tonight’s show consisted of both bands, the string quartet, the harpist and four singers. They really put on a first class show consisting of many popular songs, show tunes, and original music arrangements. We needed a little night cap so we went back through the Kings Court and had an ice cream cone! It was a nice way to end a rather harrowing day. As they say in Portual, Tchau (goodbye)!

PS – the ship is back to rocking tonight! Here’s looking forward to the Mediterranean.


MARGARET said...


Tanya said...

I am sorry I haven't written, bad day! Sounds like yours was not that grand either. Dad said he told you and I guess its Gods will! Not that sad, what does that mean?? I love you all so much and miss you too! Wish you were home. I just keep thinking when God closes a door he opens a window! I suppose the moral is HANG ON !!!!!! On the way to see dad! All my love, Tanya. Xoxo