Lisbon – Europe’s Steampunk Central

It’s been a year since our last ‘lads’ city break (for lads read adults only, one of the lads is Queene Mab AKA Mrs Shipscook). Unlike our previous Spring jaunts to Tallinn and Prague, we had chosen a destination that didn’t require thermal underwear this time, so at some ungodly hour we arrived at Luton Airport on Wednesday morning ready for our flight to Portugal’s capital Lisbon.

As you can see we flew easyJet

As you can see we flew easyJet

Having swotted up on the city before we left I’d determined that we would be using public transport a fair bit, so our first port of call was the Airport’s Tourist Information Office to collect our Lisbon Cards. For €39 they gave us the use of Lisbon’s Metro, trams and trains, plus free or discounted admission to lots of tourist attractions for the 72 hours we’d be in the city. Being a bit of a skinflint I kept a running total in my head as we went, with the Lisbon Card getting its first hammering for €1.25 as we boarded the Metro from the Airport to Saldanha to drop off our bags at the Holiday Inn Lisboa (Avenida Antonio Jose de Almeida).

Lisbon's Metro stations are very arty!

Lisbon’s Metro stations are very arty!

Having got up at 3am by the time we got to the hotel we were starving, but the nearby Pastelaria Flor des Avenidas,

This pink deco concoction housed the Pastelaria flor das Avenidas

This pink deco concoction housed the Pastelaria flor das Avenidas

proved to be the ideal place to recharge and plan our assault on Lisbon’s attractions. Our first meal in Lisbon was pleasingly cheap, for about €7 we got a hearty stew of pork and sausage with rice and chips. The beer at €2.20 a pint was particularly welcome.

Pig bits stew, quite subtantial for €7

Pig bits stew, quite subtantial for €7

So with a bellyful of food and beer we hit the Metro heading for Baixa-Chiado and the Elevador de Santa Justa.

Elevador de Santa Justa

Elevador de Santa Justa

Like Edinburgh, Lisbon is a city built on hills and this huge cast iron contraption was completed in 1902 to save little Lisbonites legs. It was designed by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, who was a pupil of Gustav Eiffel. Inside the cast iron shaft are two wood panelled lifts that take you 145 foot above the city (€5 or free with the Lisbon Card kerching).

Praca Dom Pedro IV as seen from the Elevador de Santa Justa

Praca Dom Pedro IV as seen from the Elevador de Santa Justa

When you get to the top another €1.50 (free for us) will buy you access to the observation platform via a very tight spiral staircase. From here you can get a magnificent view across the city. This platform used to house the steam engine that operated the lift cars before the elevator was converted to electricity in 1907. A cast iron bridge links to the top of the elevator to the hillside and the Parca Lius Camoes. From there it is a short walk down the Rua do Loreto to the Elevador da Bica

Elevador  da Bica

Elevador da Bica

Also designed by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, this elevador is a funicular that links this part of Lisbon to the riverbank 245 metres below. It was opened in 1892 and costs €3.60 for a one way trip (again free for us with the Lisbon Card).

here we goooooooooooooo

Here we goooooooooooooo

From te Elevador terminus we walked along the riverbank back towards the station at Cais de Sodre. I thought this part of Lisbon was a bit grim, but when we got to the station we soon found a pleasant, but pricey bar in the Praca do Commercio for a well received pint. Guidebooks, maps and reading glasses were fished out of pockets while we decided what to do next. Obviously the novelty of riding the funiculars hadn’t worn off yet so we hopped on the Metro back up to Restauradores to take the Elevador  da Gloria to the Bairrio Alto.

Elevador da Gloria

Elevador da Gloria

This is the most famous of Lisbon’s funiculars and was opened in 1895. At the top of the funicular we discovered the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Acantar, a small park with an amazing view over the city.

Late Lisbon from the Miradouro

Late Lisbon from the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Acantara

There was also a bar kiosk with tables and very welcome gas heaters, since it was starting to get chilly in the early evening. What with the fantastic view and a few glasses of local red who could ask for anything more as the Sun dropped below the hills.

Bairro Alto station

Bairro Alto station

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14 thoughts on “Lisbon – Europe’s Steampunk Central

  1. Can’t believe the graffiti on the Elevadors! When I went there I took a pic of one and it had a nice shiny yellow coat of paint. Good review of one of my favourite cities.

  2. The Miradouro de Sao Pedro park looked and smelled like a refuge for the homeless when we were up there last so I’m pleased if it’s been cleaned up, as it’s a great spot. Jeronimos Monastery and Maritime Museum while you’re out at Belem, Simon? With you all the way.

    • I did keep a running total in my head until we bust the €39 on day two, with Metro fares at €1.25, trams at €2.80 and the funiculars at €3.60 it soon added up. I think you have to do your homework and work out whether you are going to need to use the public transport and whether the attractions on the card are the ones you want to see. We bought similar cards in Malmo, Oslo, Copenhagen and Budapest, but didn’t bother for places like Prague, Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin or Tallinn where it didn’t seem worth it

  3. Pingback: Lisbon – We get Hammered and Ride the Tram Cars | shipscooksstuff

  4. Pingback: Lisbon – Breakfast, Trams, Cakes and Ruins | shipscooksstuff

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