When I was last here a few years ago, Portugal was in the grip of the financial crisis and austerity, many of Lisbon’s streets were looking pretty run down, and I was offered heroin on its main streets quite a few times. But, in the intervening years, it’s fairly obvious that there’s been a lot of investment in the city, which is now looking much more prosperous.
Admittedly, parts of Lisbon still have a fairly “lived in” feel – but, that scruffiness has always been part of the city’s charm – so, I hope that all the new boutique hotels, the tourist tuk tuks, and the commercialised tourist trade don’t dilute too much of Lisbon’s down-to-earth charms.
As long as you don’t mind hills, Lisbon is a great city for just exploring at random, and seeing what historic gem you come across next – a half-excavated Roman amphitheatre, sitting below a Moorish castle, next to crumbling medieval buildings, across from Renaissance churches – this place has so much character.
So, we walked our socks off up and down multiple hills, before having a superb lunch in the classy Solar do Presuntos Restaurant in the centre of town – absolutely delicious fish and seafood were had by all.
So, Lisbon was a great place to start this final leg of the World Cruise – it’s hard to overstate just how happy everyone has been to be back in Europe after the challenges of West Africa. But, when you’re in a superb city like Lisbon, it’s hard not to be happy.