We recently went on our first family trip to Lisbon and it was refreshingly fun and clean. The city is a lively mix of traditional architecture and friendly people. When I asked about the unusual layout and architecture of the city I was often told about The Great Earthquake, that destroyed 85% of the city. The Earthquake allowed a large part of the city to be planned (rather than medieval hodge podge which many European cities end up being ).
Between 60 to 90 THOUSAND people died during the Earthquake. I’m usually pretty good about history and current events but I was so shocked that I hadn’t heard about this earthquake (I remember and have heard of the ones in Mexico City, Iran, San Francisco, Pakistan, etc.). I finally asked, ‘When was the Earthquake?’ You would have thought I asked if water is wet. The taxi driver said (in a slow serious tone), “November 1st 1755.” My language skills may not be as good as I had thought so I asked, ‘Did you say 1755?’ “Yes.” It is as if it had happened yesterday.
There is a lot to see and we didn’t have nearly enough time to see it all in. One evening we made time to enjoy a Fado (typical Portuguese heartfelt folk music) in a small typical restaurant. The performance was wonderful and the guitarists were really excellent. One of the things that kind of struck me as strange was that the singers always had their eyes shut. Anyone know why that is?
Some favorite things in Lisbon were:
- Delicious food -especially if you love cod (bacalau) and its many incarnations (try the cod cakes for you first timers). Though, it is tough to be a veggie it can be done here is a link to some of the places that are veggie friendly (thanks R for the link!)
- Oceanarium one of the world’s largest aquariums it is really “wow” inspiring
- Zoo area is a wonderful for a walk and there are lots of restaurants
- Castelo de São Jorge (St. George’s Castle) wondrous views that have been around for over a millennium (try the chocolate cake at the restaurant at the foot of the castle -you will LOVE it and its chocolate goodness)
- Mosteiro dos Jerónimus Vasco da Gama’s fantastic tomb is here as well as some of the most beautiful cloisters in Europe (to the right of the facade and down the street is a very famous cafe with really good pasteles)
MMMmmmm all this talk of travel is making me hungry. Maybe I should have written this as the gastronomic tour of Lisbon. It was a delicious trip and one I hope to make again soon!