Our bus pulled into the depot at Sete-Rios on Rua das Laranjeiras at approximately 3PM in the afternoon. We had spent the previous 2 days in Fatima, a little village about 2 hours away from Lisbon, for a quick retreat before we dive into the craziness of World Youth Day in Madrid. We were scheduled to be on the overnight train to Madrid at 10:30PM that night. So why did we leave Fatima so early, you ask? All 3 of us are “just in case” people – We would rather wait for hours at a time than having to experience the adrenaline rush you get from the possibility of missing a train. So, with a little over 6 hours to spare, what else is there to do but to explore Lisbon?
We left Sete-Rios and made our way to Jardim Zoologico Metro Station and took Linha Azul (really, just the Portuguese way of saying the blue line) to Santa Apolonia so we can confirm our train schedule and deposit our luggage in a locker. All things cleared, we walked to the Information desk at the front of the station, grabbed a city map, and we were on our way to see a little bit of what Lisbon has to offer.
We walked along Av. Infante Dom Henrique, took a random turn to the right and, before we knew it, we were walking through narrow alleys of apartment buildings and cafes with crumbling walls, patterned tiles, and overflowing bougainvillea.
A soft seaside breeze got caught underneath the curtains every now and then, slowly revealing the room inside, with its patrons enjoying a cup of coffee accompanied with some music from the radio. Muffled conversations ensued, glasses cling, giggles and laughter heard. It’s really a charming area that we stumbled upon.
We continued to walk until we hit a street with tracks installed in the grounds, electrical cables crisscrossing the sky overhead, hanging from one pole to the other, and the sound of the heaving tram carrying its passengers up the hills of Lisbon.
We stepped into Igreja de Santo Antonio, built over the remains of the house in which St. Anthony was born and lived in before he joined the Franciscan order and started working in Padua, Italy. These days he’s recognized as St. Anthony of Padua, the saint famously known for helping you find lost articles. Next time you are looking for something, say a short prayer appealing for his help. Trust me, it works!
Behind Igreja de Santo Antonio is Igreja de Santa Maria Maior, the Patriarchal Cathedral of Lisbon. The high ceiling and dimmed lighting provided a cool, highly-welcomed refuge from the hot, afternoon sun outside.
We followed the crowds and eventually found ourselves at Praça do Comercio (Commerce Square), with the statue of King Jose I planted in the middle and the Arch positioned behind it, opening to the pedestrian-only Rua Augusta. The bright yellow paint on the building contrasted beautifully with the rich, blue sky above.
We walked along Rua Augusta, occasionally stopping to stuff ourselves with Pasteis de nata, croquets, and other goodies.
We took pictures with Elevador de Santa Justa.
After dinner, we walked along the waterfront to go back to Santa Apolonia – 6 hours well spent!
Barcelona, I think you just met your rival.
P.s. Thank you, Julie, for your editing expertise!!