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Lisbon, Part Three

The Packet (Clarenville) - - CLASSIFIED - BY CRAIG WELSH SPE­CIAL TO THE PACKET Craig Welsh is a for­mer as­so­ci­ate ed­i­tor of The Packet who now lives in Iqaluit, but trav­els when­ever he can.

This week is the next in­stall­ment of a travel se­ries by Craig Welsh.

Welsh, a for­mer re­porter with The Packet, will have more in­stall­ments from his lat­est trav­els over the next few weeks.

We’ve been for­tu­nate enough to visit a lot of Euro­pean cities over the years, but we’ve come to crave cer­tain things. We like wind­ing streets where you can get lost filled with in­ter­est­ing lit­tle shops. We like a good cas­tle. And we have been in dozens of churches, but still keep go­ing in. We’ve pretty much started rat­ing them at this point.

Which makes the Alfama dis­trict of Lisbon per­fect for us. It’s ori­gins date back to when the Moors con­trolled the re­gion. You can get there by ei­ther hik­ing up from the down­town area or be­ing for­tu­nate enough to snag a spot on Lisbon’s leg­endary Tram 28. We weren’t for­tu­nate, so we hiked up and pre­pared to get as lost as you can with an iPhone and Google Maps ready to bail you out of most jams.

Alfama lead­ing at­trac­tion is the Castelo de Sao Jorge, which is a pretty solid cas­tle and worth spend­ing an hour or two walk­ing around. It’s a hike to get to there, but it has one of the ab­so­lutely best views of Lisbon and the har­bour. It’s also worth stick­ing around un­til sun­set. Sur­pris­ingly most of the crowds leave, mean­ing it’s easy to claim a spot and watch a spec­tac­u­lar sun­set over the city.

But even if walk­ing around cas­tles are not your thing, you still have a church like the Se, which is not quite as big a climb to reach. It’s not as spec­tac­u­larly over-the-top as some we’ve been to, but it’s a work­ing church. When we vis­ited, ser­vice was un­der way, with a size­able crowd in at­ten­dance for a Wed­nes­day morn­ing. A lot of Euro­pean churches feel more like his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ments, so it’s nice to see one lo­cals use.

If you keep wan­der­ing you’ll hit plazas with spec­tac­u­lar views of the har­bour and places to grab some shade and a drink. Wan­der up high enough and you’ll get to the church of Santa Luzia. It’s per­haps bet­ter known for the plaza that of­fers even more spec­tac­u­lar views of the city. And un­like the cas­tle, it’s free.

But some­times it’s the lit­tle things dur­ing your wan­ders. When strolling through the streets look­ing for some lunch we got lost, turned a cor­ner and found a lit­tle restau­rant. Hun­gry and look­ing to re­group, we ended up spend­ing a nice hour eat­ing a great lit­tle lunch, sip­ping cap­puc­cino and in­dulging in home­made ice cream.

It doesn’t all have to be his­toric sites and churches. Some­times the mem­ory of an un­ex­pected find and a good meal can last a long time.

Sun­set over Lisbon from the Castelo de Sao Jorge.

One of the many mu­rals and art­work found through­out the Alfama.

A street mu­si­cian gets cre­ative in how he asks for money from tourists.

Look­ing out over the rooftops in the Alfama.

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