| Iberian Adventure:
Walking the Decorative Cobble
Story and photos by Tom Weber
says Bom dia (Good morning) better than Portugal's revered pastry:
pastel de nata, a custard tart.
I've plated several for breakfast
okay, three in the dining room of Lisbon's Dom
Pedro Palace, the five-star hotel where I'm staying as a guest
travel writer of Insight Vacations (Insight) on its abbreviated,
seven-day Iberian Adventure through Portugal and Spain.
Hey, when in Lisboa do as the Lisboêtas
do, especially when it's on someone else's dime, right?
I'm off the clock until this evening and
want to get the most out of the daylight before the rest of Insight's
latest "band of merry media," 29 international journalists
and photographers, form up for our launch party-dinner.
Whaddya say we hit the decorative cobble,
remove the old lens cap and frame A Cidade das Sete Colinas (The
City of Seven Hills) as fast as we can? VAMOS!
Like some of the other great seven-hill
cities of Europe Athens, Budapest, Prague and Rome, to name a
few Lisbon is spread across seven REALLY steep hills that overlook
the Rio Tejo (Tagus River).
The oldest city in Western Europe, predating
even the Romans, Lisbon, with its patchwork of undulating neighborhoods,
is best experienced on foot, or, when the legs give out, aboard one
of the colorful, above-ground classic trams, or historic elevadores
(funiculars), or via the four-line, underground metro system.
For me, this walk is literally all downhill.
From the hotel, I take Rua Aguiar straight
down to the Marquês de Pombal roundabout, veer to the right onto
Avenida da Liberade and then start a lengthy zig-zag that takes me up
through the Barrio Alto, then back down into the Chiado, Rossio and
Baixa neighborhoods where I finish the out-route of this longa caminhada
(long walk) at the Praça do Comércio fronting the banks
of the Tagus.
The only problem that awaits me is the return route.
It's all uphill. TAXI!
Nearly leveled by a devastating earthquake
and its associated fires and catastrophic tsunami on the morning of
November 1, 1775, which took the lives of an estimated 90,000 victims
out of a total population of 250,000, Lisbon miraculously picked itself
up off the rubble and immediately rebuilt wider, sturdier and more beautiful
One glance down at the pavement underfoot
and you'll understand why. It's calçada portuguesa, the
decorative mosaic stone pavement painstakingly laid down by hand that
covers the walkways, alleyways and squares around the historic center
of this recognized global city.
On the surface, Lisbon appears somewhat
gritty, rough around the edges with its fair share of colorful street
art sprinkled here, there and everywhere. But, underneath all the wear
and tear, the Queen of the Sea, sitting atop seven hills for
all to admire, is quite an elegant, sophisticated metropolis.
Wide leafy avenues and sun-drenched squares
frame this postcard-perfect city of reasonable prices and friendly,
laid-back people. Lisbon is, without a doubt, one of Europe's most atmospheric
and lively locales and a must-see destination.
For complete information on Insight's premium
and luxury-escorted itineraries, including the Iberian Adventure
and 112 other journeys throughout Europe, just click HERE,
or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
See you tomorrow morning when we climb
aboard the Insight motor coach and cruise on over to Lisbon's Belém
neighborhood followed by Cascais and Sintra. Boa noite!
a Lisboa (Welsome to Lisbon); Iberian
the Douro River, Portugal; 3
Things We Didn't Know About Portugal; Romantic
Getaway in Picturesque Portugal