tom911 goes to Lisbon and Madrid

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  1. tom911
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    Hello late Thursday night from Lisbon, Portugal. Temperatures have been moderate today. When I went out at 7pm tonight it was 13C/55F. I’ve had light rain on and off today with a very heavy rain that started coming down at 3:30pm as I walked down into the city center from the hillside Alfama neighborhood. Headed back to my hotel for a break after being out in that for a while. This portion of my report will cover Tuesday and Wednesday as the Thursday segment still needs some work (and I haven’t written a narrative for it).

    TUESDAY

    Was upgraded on my AA 737-800 flight from SFO to DFW which departed about 15 mins late due to the incoming aircraft running behind. Departure time changed to 1:35p.m. The low clouds had cleared and our departure route right over San Francisco before turning out to the coast gave me a chance to take City photos with both the Bay Bridge (first photo) and Golden Gate Bridge (second photo).

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    My meal selection was vegetable manicotti. I don’t think AA has any Italians working there as the sauce was lacking any flavor. Flight time was 3 hours.

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    Arrived at DFW about 6:45p.m. and had enough time to visit the lounge in the international terminal for about an hour. Headed to the gate at 7:45p.m. for an 8:30p.m. departure.

    Very fortunate to have an empty seat next to me in the last row of business on a 767-300, my preferred seat at the window. The passenger in the 3-seat center section had all 3 seats to herself. Excellent service on board. My meal selection was Pepper and Olive Tapenade Crusted Halibut with herb roasted potatoes. Lots of sauce so I just removed some of that and the fish itself was very good.

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    WEDNESDAY

    Prearrival meal at about 9:30a.m. London time, about 7 hours into the 8.5 hour flight, was choice of Quiche Lorraine or a fruit plate with yogurt and granola. I had just the fruit plate and a cinnamon roll.

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    All of the meal photos are here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/American-Airlines/American-Airlines-My-Carrier/

    We landed just before 11a.m. For the first time ever, I did not have to change terminals to get my connecting flight, a process that involves a bus and another round of security, because my British Airways flight to Lisbon departed from terminal 3 at London Heathrow, the same terminal I arrived in and AA”s home at Heathrow. I did have to go through security again, but once through there right into the BA first class lounge for a good 3 hours. My connecting Lisbon flight did not depart until 3:20p.m. and I left the lounge about an hour before that just to stretch my legs. Wasn’t very hungry so just had some potato salad and tomato slices from the salad bar, as well as some tomato soup. Could have ordered from a menu if I wanted something more substantial. Had sparkling water, then a Diet Coke, and, before departure, a glass of a French white wine (they have a pretty extensive wine bar here). Free wi-fi kept me occupied.

    Once on board the Lisbon flight we were served ham and cheese sandwiches. The Airbus A320 had us packed in like sardines in coach with very little legroom. I was in coach for this segment as my upgrades only work on AA flights. Flight time was 2hrs 20 mins once we were in the air and we landed around 6p.m. Had to clear passport control and claim a bag as BA flights are too small for my rollaboard, so didn’t get out of the airport until about 6:45p.m. Bought a Metro train ticket for 1.40 euro ($1.70) and was at my hotel about 7:15p.m.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
  2. tom911
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    I’m at the Holiday Inn again near the Campo Pequeno bullfighting arena and shopping mall. They’ve upgraded me to a 9th floor suite on my 49 euro ($62) rate. Too tired to head out so stayed in tonight.

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    That's it for today. Will have lots of Lisbon photos in the next installment.
     
  3. tom911
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    Should add this trip is on a $700 fare purchased on an AA sale in October. I'm flying home from Madrid and bought a separate ticket on Iberia Lisbon-Madrid for around $85 with one piece of checked luggage.
     
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  4. canucklehead
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    I look forward to your report. I will be in LIS on Sunday so would like to see what sites you hit. I am heading to Sintra for a couple of days!
     
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  5. tom911
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    I hope to get over to Sintra tomorrow (Saturday) if the weather improves here. More rain expected today. I've been here a couple times before.
     
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  6. tom911
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    THURSDAY

    Was down for the hotel breakfast at 9:30a.m. I get a discounted rate of 10 euros ($11.60 as the euro continues to slide--- was over $13 just 18 months ago for the same meal). They feature several hot items (scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, beans) as well as fresh fruit (orange slices, pineapple, kiwi fruit) and several juices. They also have cartons of yogurt, assorted rolls, croissants, and custard tarts which are very popular here in Lisbon. Certainly not the variety of a Hyatt breakfast but plenty to start the day at a fair price.

    Was out the door at 10:15a.m. wearing just a polar fleece and learned pretty quickly that was not going to keep me warm. Back inside for a winter coat as it was very windy outside and dark clouds everywhere. Bought a 6 euro ($7.20) all day Metro ticket just below Campo Pequeno.

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    Headed out by train down to the Baixa/Chiodo station in the shopping district not far from the waterfront and the River Tejo. Upon arrival, my first dose of light rain.

    Walked through the shopping district on Rua Augusta to Praca de Comercio (Commerce Square) and got some photos looking down towards the 25th of April Bridge and dark clouds.

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  7. tom911
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    Back into the city for the 28 tram up into Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon, built between the River Tejo and St. George Castle. There was a line at the first stop I went to, and the tram did not have enough room for everyone (I did not want to stand with pickpockets known to frequent this line- saw them in action last visit). Worked my way back along the tram tracks to a prior stop and got on a subsequent tram with a good seat.


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    Took the tram to the end of the line at the Maritime Moniz stop. Got off and boarded the 28 tram back in the direction I came from about 15 mins later.

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    I visited three churches along the tram line. I got off the tram at the first church near St George’s Castle (can’t find the name of it on google maps and I didn't write it down).

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  8. tom911
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    I lit two candles that you'll see in the right middle next to each other:

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    From outside the church, gorgeous city views and a view towards St. George's Castle:

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    Quick walk through the hills:

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  9. tom911
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    The second church was St. Vincent de Fora (St Vincent outside the walls):

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    Back down the hill:

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    Stopped at a cafe for a hot chocolate and custard tart as I continued my walk downhill. Total price was 3.7 euros (about $4.30). I was given a piece of chocolate to melt/stir into the cup of hot milk. First time for that.

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  10. tom911
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    Back down the hill and ran into Segways. I would not want to be on one of those in rainy conditions. The cobblestone sidewalks here are a challenge for me as they treat my hiking boots like roller skates and it’s hard to get a good grip on them as you walk along. I’ve slipped a couple times but so far no falls (don’t want to lose another camera like I did in Vienna when I fell over a snow-covered curb).

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    More city and water views along the way down (that's the church at the top that I just left):

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  11. tom911
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    The third church was the Cathedral (very plain inside compared to the first two I stopped at). As I came out to get an exterior photo it was pouring rain, so ducked under an awning to get a photo. Must have been the same Segways I saw parked in their reserved slots right in front.

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  12. tom911
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    Walked down into the shopping district in Baixa again around 3:30 and decided it would be a good time to head back to the hotel for a break.

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    Back out at 7p.m. and stopped at Campo Pequeno for dinner in their food court. I had fettucine with chicken, a salad and a Coke Zero for 9.15 euros ($10.65) which was plenty of food for me.

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  13. tom911
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    Walked 2.8 miles (4.5km--plotted it out on google maps) down to the waterfront via Avenue of Liberty and some high-end shops. Also saw a new BMW electric vehicle that I haven’t seen in the U.S. yet. Did have light rain on and off for the hour walk. Took the train back to my hotel and arrived just after 10p.m.

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  14. tom911
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  15. dayone
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    The BMW i3 electric has been available in the U.S. for at least a year.
     
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  16. tom911
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    They must be well-hidden in the Bay Area. I don't think I've ever seen one.
     
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  17. canucklehead
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    I think there is a 6mo waiting list for them and inventory is not that high making them quite rare
     
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  18. tom911
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    FRIDAY

    Slept in until 10 today and wasn’t out the door until 11a.m. Thought I could catch a bus to Belem across from Campo Pequeno, but none of the display boards indicated one in that direction, so onto the Metro down to Baixa and a three block walk to the 15 tram that goes out there. This is the modern version versus the ones that go up and down the hills.

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    Hoped to grab some pastries at a recommended shop out there but I was not going to get in line and I wanted to sit down. Helped that it was raining and I wanted to get indoors. Headed a few doors down to another cafe and found a seat there without a problem. Plenty of pastries to choose from.

    The one with the line:

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    The one without the line:

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    Total bill was 4.09 euros ($4.73). Half of that was for my hot chocolate in a very small cup. Could have gone to Starbucks on the same block and paid 5 euros ($5.80) for a large hot chocolate but it looked way too “avoid me I’m a franchise” in there. Enjoyed patronizing a local shop.
     
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  19. tom911
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    Rain cleared up and I walked past the Jeronimos Monastery on the way over to the River Tagus for some photos of the Monument of the Discoveries, the 25th of April Bridge and Christ statue, and finally the Belem Castle. Walked from there across an elevated walkway over train tracks to the Belem Cultural Center which hosts international exhibitions and has a modern art museum inside.

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  20. tom911
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    Fast moving rain clouds were starting to come in and I took refuge in the cafe at the Belem Cultural Center. A glass of wine was 2 euros ($2.32). They have free wi-fi. Here's what it looked like above the Jeronimos Monastery before I went inside:

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    And when I came out about 20 mins later onto the Cultural Center balcony:

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    Next stop: the Maritime Museum. I was impressed. I’ve been to the Naval Museum in Madrid before, but this one comes pretty close (not as much art, but more replica vessels). I took so many photos I don’t know where to begin.

    This is their oldest artifact, a statue of the Archangel Raphael that accompanied Vasco da Gama on his voyage to India in 1497:

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    There's lots of artwork. This piece shows St. Francis Xavier performing a miracle at sea:

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  21. tom911
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    A naval victory in 1833:

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    A naval battle in 1717:

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    Here’s some of the replica vessels on display with many more in my photo gallery, some with detailed vessel info:

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  22. tom911
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    [​IMG]

    A submarine from 1917:

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    They also had a significant display of maritime instruments:

    19th century sundial:

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    Slide rule from 1769:

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  23. tom911
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    I also popped into the Jeronimos Monastery to visit Vasco da Gama.

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    Took the 15 tram back into the city. Half way there it went out of service at the tram barn and we had to get off in the rain. Hood up and waited 10 minutes for a bus to a destination I recognized. It was 6p.m. by then and decided I might as well stay out for dinner. Got off at the first Metro train station and trained over to the Oriente station at the Expo grounds, home to a large shopping mall with a supermarket in the basement.

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    Walked out to the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) and down a ways to where there is a strip of restaurants.

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  24. tom911
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    Found one I’ve been to twice before (Status) and had the 8 euro ($9.25) dinner special (salmon was one of four choices, and it came with squash soup, salad on the side, potatoes and carrots). Added on a ¼ bottle of house white wine for 4.4 euros ($5.25). Total bill: $14.50. Can’t eat like this at home. They also had a 2 for 1 happy hour until 7p.m. for some drinks (pitchers of sangria was one).

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    I was at the restaurant for 50 mins and was the only guest. One couple looked at the menu outside and walked off. When I was here with the Coughlins 18 months ago, on a sidetrip from World Swimming Championships in Madrid, we were told the economy was still suffering and locals were not going out to eat as they did in the past. Now, 7 may be early for dinner in these parts, so hopefully things did pick up after I left. There were only two employees, one working the floor and one in the kitchen, from what I could see. Felt sad not having anyone there but me as they do have very good food here.

    Last photo is a hotel/viewing platform just down from the restaurant:

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    Was back at my hotel for the night just after 8.

    Lisbon photos continue here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Europe/Portugal/2015-Lisbon-Portugal/i-bXH4SQk

    Belem photos, including the Maritime Museum, start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Europe/Portugal/2015-Belem-Portugall/
     
  25. tom911
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    Just in from dinner Sunday night at 10:30p.m. Light rain was falling for a few mins tonight, but nothing to hamper my travels like Saturday night when the skies opened up.

    SATURDAY

    Down for the hotel breakfast at 9 and out the door just after 10a.m. Had to take 3 different Metro trains down to the Rossio Station. I took a photo of that station when I was out on Thursday night. The train tracks are up on the third floor.

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    Got the 11:08a.m. service to Sintra, a 30 minute trip to the northwest of Lisbon. The ticket is 2.15 euros ($2.49) one way. Sintra is home to two hilltop castles: Castle Pena, which I visited, and the Moorish Castle, which I did not. It also has a national palace in the city center which dates back to the 11th century Moorish occupation of the Iberian peninsula. Its present design goes back to the 16th century.

    Moorish Castle viewed from around train station:

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    National Palace in city center:

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