Retro Tram – Lisbon, Portugal

Today we had a massive 20 min drive to get closer to Lisbon for our walking tour on Friday. We have moved from Cascais to the outskirts of Lisbon. There is not much by way of dedicated motorhome parking in the city and we wanted to be sure of some shade to leave the dogs during our tour.

We have therefore come to Lisboa Campismo on the edge of a large green area, known as the Lung of Lisbon. The first pitch we were allocated has no shade and the very large U.K. caravans either side had encroached on both sides leaving little space. A quick walk round and a trip to reception we have managed to get a decent spot in the trees with its own bench seat which the dogs have claimed ever since we arrived.

Lisboa Campismo

The early afternoon turned into a dog grooming session as the weather for the next few days has the temperature climbing. So we had a bit of Border Terrier hand stripping on the picnic table in the shade.

Late afternoon when we were happy the van was cool enough in the shade we set off for Lisbon leaving Lizzy and Lola in the van. There is a small taxi rank at the front gate so we walk down and jumped in one for the 10 minute ride to pick up the iconic historic trams which still run down Lisbon’s steep and cobbled streets in the historic centre.

I had read that the trams are standing room only, so we jumped on at the terminus at Campo Ourique. However we were the last to join the queue and when the first tram pulled up all the seats were taken. However another pulled up and we opted to wait for that. The driver of the next tram hopped out to leaving the tram and told the assembled crowd we should take it ourselves and head off! However, by the time he got back no one had taken up the challenge so he jumped aboard. This time we managed a double seat, though there were already several standing as we departed.

The number 28 route passes through the popular tourist districts of Alfama, Baixa, Estrela and Graca. The historic trams which retain their 1930’s details still run this route due to the narrow streets, right turns and sharp inclines, less suited to their modern electrical counterparts.

The sharpness and screech of the brakes appears to have lost none of its authenticity as the tram rattles and stops and starts over its route. The windows of the tram open half way which gives a much needed ventilation as the customers pile in. The streets are so narrow that the opposite trams pass within inches and the park traffic are avoided only because their wing mirrors are folded in. Certainly to lean out of the window to look at the view has to be fleeting and carefully timed. The tram came to a stop several times due to obstructions including one oblivious car driver putting a child in the backseat of the car effectively blocking the road who calmly made the whole tram wait til she had finished.

The route 28 is the recommended route through the old centre passing numerous churches and squares. There is the iconic Portuguese painted tiles on numerous buildings and lots of tourist shops, but also many very old fashioned shops with a big counter and everything on wooden shelves behind. Sadly through there are lots empty and decaying building on route, although there is a definite air of nostalgia on the wooden tram through the narrow streets, there is also a feeling this historic quarter is falling behind the younger areas further out.

We concluded our trip at the terminus at Martim Moniz in the Moorish quarter and were turned out into the fresh air in view of the castle on the hilltop opposite. The streets everywhere were crammed, all appeared to be tourists as it appears big business no longer operates in this areas so there were few people going about their usual business.

There will literally hundreds of restaurants filling each street with tables and in between cafes and ice cream parlours. We wondered a while along the streets before stopping for some refreshments. We have 3 hours of walking tour tomorrow so we did not feel pressurised to see all the sights tonight.

Last day of university

We opted for Uber back rather than historic tram and took a different route back along the waterfront and under the iconic 25th April bridge. We passed a group of university students (identifiable in their uniforms of back and white singing in a fountain, we were told by the taxi driver it was their last day of the year and this was the standard celebration!

Monument of Discoveries

A walk out in the warm evening with the dogs when we returned.

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