Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra

Great sights, interesting history, friendly people and good food.
I will be posting pictures of my trip to Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra.
Hope you enjoy seeing this beautiful country through my lenses. I will also post information on how to get around on your own and staying on a budget while your there.
If you have any comments, suggestions or just want to get in touch with me please send me an email at ericsilvester@gmail.com

Cheers, Eric

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Lisbon : : Lisboa

Toronto to Lisboa

I arrived in Lisbon from Toronto in the wee hours of the morning. Compared to Pearson Airport in Toronto, the airport in Lisbon was a fairly small airport, but then I felt the buzz was different. I always wanted to go to Europe and start from the tip - Portugal. I wanted to know what it would be like.

Born in Bombay and having visited Goa, which was
a Portuguese colony for many years I wanted to experience Portugal. After making a reservation from the Information Desk (not so helpful - but I grabbed the various brochures to find where I wanted to stay) I headed towards the hotel near Rossio station (see map). Right in the middle of the theater area, it was a small lodge run by a family. If you walk into the lobby you will hear the TV playing their favorite sport - soccer. I was informed that the next day was the big match between Porto and Lisboa.

After s
ettling in I was all wound up to go and explore the city. With the map I had I took off for the coast of Lisbon (5 minutes
walking distance) - the Praça do Comércio. From there I went up the Elevador de Santa Justa and you can see the many beautiful sights from the pictures below.

Houses that line the roads leading to the Praça do Comércio

Tiled buildings and murals of Portugal


I was fascinated by the beautiful murals that adorn every street corner and most of the forts and museums. This is what I learned about the history of
the Portuguese tiles, known as azulejos. They adorn the inside and outside of almost every home in Portugal.

Although introduced to Iberia by Moors, the fashion continued after they left. The Moors restricted themselves arabesque geometric patterns of triangles, squares, and diamonds, probably because many of them belonged to the Sunni branch of Islam which prohibited images of living things. Portuguese and Flemish artists began to produce tiles in Lisbon in the 16th Century. Blue and yellow were the favorite color combination and tiles depicted mostly floral patterns or religious scenes. The ever expanding Portuguese empire provided increasingly more exotic themes and colors.

After the earthquake of 1755 there was a return to multi-colored tiles. It was about this time too that the Portuguese in Brazil discovered that tiles were ideal for keeping out the damp. In the rebuilt Lisbon houses were encased in tiles, and this tradition continues today. These are some of the murals and tiled houses I seen in Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra.