Yesterday’s cross-country bus ride from Seville to Lisbon was a tiring journey, and we slept like a baby through the night. The sun is out by the time I opened the window curtain on our bedroom, which must be around 8am. Still in our pajamas, we went for a breakfast on the same restaurant we ate at the night before, on the second floor of our hotel (Arribas Sintra Hotel). We were seated on a table near the window facing the ocean, then proceeded to serve ourselves the American-style breakfast provided.
We plan neither to go for a swim on the beach nor at the hotel, and for us there were more interesting things to do in Lisbon than lying down on the beach, so we took an Uber at around 10am heading straight to our hotel in the city.
In Lisbon, we stayed at Eden VIP Aparthotel that is located centrally in Praça dos Restauradores, at the end of Avenue da Liberdade where all the branded stores are located. The exterior of the hotel looks fancy and new, but the interior is actually very old and looked unkempt. The lighting on the hallway is very poor and the furniture remind me of a hotel in third world country in the 1990s.
Half of the branded stores in Avenue da Liberdade was closed on Sunday, but we noted that the third-tier clothes brand such as Cos and Massimo Dutti are open. Compared to our experience at Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, the shopping experience in Lisbon is less enthralling, probably due to its pedestrian walkaway being much smaller compared to in Barcelona and less crowds on the street.
For lunch, we went to the first and original Timeout market – the same franchise we have in Montreal and other global cities – located on the waterfront. It was very crowded! There were endless choice of good-looking foods and we settled for a grilled seafood at a booth called Monte Mar – one with the longest line up among them. The wait for both the line up and the food was long, about 30 minutes in total, but the food doesn’t disappoint. Not since the last time I had grilled seafood back in Indonesia did I eat such perfectly cooked prawns and squids!
The weather in Lisbon is much more pleasant than both in Barcelona and Seville. The temperature stays below 25 degree Celsius and being a coastal city means cold wind blows from time to time. The city is also more tourist friendly with most of the population speaking English well. All of these, plus the food and good infrastructure make the city very livable.
After our lunch, we took an Uber to go to LX Factory, a chic complex housing locally-made goods shops, restaurants, and bars that is located 3 Km to the west from Timeout market. Although there were plenty of small goods that could be an interesting addition to our home, especially some cute cooking wares, we did not buy any given the complication of having to bring them on the flight.
From LX Factory, we walked 1.9 Km further west alongside the Tagus River heading to MAAT, a museum that used to be a power station. It was a very pleasant walk. We watched boats sailing under the Ponte 25 de Abril, locals planting their fishing gear on the ground, and youngsters riding an electric scooter on the walkaway. There are public benches for people to sit throughout the walkaway and enjoy the view, where we sat and ate an ice cream from a vendor nearby.
We did not get into MAAT but took a lot of pictures of the architecture. Visitors could go to the top of the building from the staircase on the back of it and have a higher angle to take photographs. From there, we walked further west then cross the street to go to Museu Coleção Berardo – a modern and contemporary art museum. The entrance fee at only €5 is relatively cheap, and there are several notable paintings from Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, and Piet Mondrian.
What is more interesting to me is that inside the museum there is a small but amazing park facing the water, located on the second floor of the complex. There, we could sit on the grass, or on the lounge chair available and just relax. A café is located on the corner where we could also buy some drinks. Definitely a place I will go for reading every week if I live here!
Next on our list is the Champalimaud Centre for the Uknown, a biomedical research foundation focused on developing treatment for neuroscience and oncology diseases that is housed under a modern architecture featuring an amphitheater facing the river on the back of the building. And the location of the building itself is a significant one. Quoted from the Architect Magazine:
Charles Correa, Hon. FAIA, was awestruck the first time he walked the site for the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal. Standing near the mouth of the Tagus River, within view of the Tower of Belém, built in the 16th century to fortify the city during the Age of Discovery, he felt that he was standing on hallowed ground.
“For me, this was a very special place,” he says. “How did Vasco da Gama and the other great navigators find the courage and imagination to sail down that bend, take that corner and plunge into the unknown ocean that lay beyond?” To Correa, principal of Charles Correa Associates of Mumbai, India, seafaring exploration seemed an extraordinarily apt metaphor for the scientific journeys that would soon be taking place at the Champalimaud Foundation’s new research center. João Silveira Botelho, one of the center’s directors, agrees. “That’s why we call it the Center for the Unknown, because, likewise, our discoveries are from the realm of the unknown,” Botelho says.
Correa’s design for the complex—a rare integration of research and clinical facilities (which are often considered separate disciplines) with aspirations to become an international leader in neuroscience and cancer research—taps the poetic dimensions of the site’s historic legacy.
It was near sunset time when we finished touring the complex and we wanted to watch the city of Lisbon from the other side of the river, so we took an Uber for €17 to Boca de Vento Elevator on the South of Tagus River, crossing Ponte 25 de Abril. To our surprise, the access to the site requires navigation through small alleys uphill that leads to a very secluded place where the elevator is located. At first, we thought we were lost.
The view from the top is simply beautiful. You could see boats sailing on the river, crisscrossing Tagus river with their white body and sail contrasting against the deep blue water. On our left was the Santuario de Cristo Rei and the Ponte 25 de Abril while on the right was red-colored rooftop with Tagus River on the background. The city of Lisbon does not seem too big from here, and the lack of high-rises makes it look rather flat. There, visitors could take the public (free) elevator going up and down the cliff, and the lower end of the elevator is where majority of the crowds were, picnicking while waiting for the sunset.
After being satisfied with the photographs, we ordered another Uber – it is impossible to find taxi around – and went back to the city and ate at Pinoquio, a seafood specialty restaurant located just on the other side of the boulevard near our hotel. I had a seafood paella, which is quite different in style from the one we ate during our trip in Spain. One thing to note is that their portion is huge, with my paella alone could easily fill two empty stomachs. And there was also bread being served.
It had been a long day, and we walked more than our average of 20.000 steps despite taking few taxi and Uber. Luckily, it took less than 2 minutes to get back to our room and sleep.