Day 9 |
Sep 10, 2012

Lisbon, Portugal 

By Imogen Corrigan, Medieval Historian

Co-ordinates: 38, 42, 29 N, 9, 7, 40 W
Weather: fog, giving way to sunshine
Air Temperature: 25C, 80F
Pressure: 1019.7
Wind: 3

The sea is so flat-calm, it’s almost spooky (not a complaint). Again we had a thick mist, but it cleared a lot earlier than yesterday so we had wonderful views as we sailed into Lisbon. Gordon Corrigan gave a lecture on the Peninsular War and its armies to thunderous acclaim, which set the scene for some of the things we heard about on the city tour.

All guests were out on deck to see Lisbon sliding past as Silver Explorer went to its berth close to the city. It’s beautiful and one of my favourite cities. I’ve never seen it looking bad, even in tipping rain. We passed the famous statue of Henry the Navigator and then we were under the whispering bridge – more a whining bridge, in fact. It’s made of some sort of metal grilling, so the overhead traffic makes a constant high-pitched vibrating noise that must be infuriating for anyone living or working near it, but fascinating for visitors.

The excursion departed after lunch and we toured the monumental district of Belem. The Jeronimos Monastery is exquisite and always takes one’s breath away. We spent time at the Ajuda Palace, which is a little eccentric in its décor – not my personal taster but very interesting to see and to hear the tale of the penultimate king and his young, Italian bride. Lisbon is a fascinating city with its Romanesque cathedral built on the site of a mosque and right in the middle of what was the medina. You can see plainly that this is a city that doesn’t wish to break ties with either its medieval or Moorish past.

One of the things I like best about Portugal in general and Lisbon in particular (apart from the people) are the tiled pavements. It must be an illusion, but it always seems to me that they are softer to walk on than pavements elsewhere in Europe. Whatever the case, we were all fairly glad to sit down to eat tapas and watch a vibrant cultural show, enthusiastically given and equally enjoyed by all present. It was a great end to a nice afternoon in Lisbon.

Then it was back to the ship and another evening of fine dining and conversation. Sadly we had waved goodbye to Colleen Batey, our archaeologist, when we docked because she had to return to Glasgow – she will be missed!