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Oceania Marina - Europe Cruise Blog #3

Ben Hall

It's one of the grand maritime cities of the world and sailing into Lisbon is one of those experiences which stays with you for a long time. The likes of Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama have sailed in and out of the Tagus River as they explored the world and we had a picture perfect blue sky day for an exploration of the Portuguese capital.

Lisbon is a city rich in history and wandering its cobbled streets reveals a new monument or historical sight at every turn. We were docked at the Santa Apalonia Cruise Terminal which was a good result as it means you can step off the cruise ship and land straight into the Alfama, one of Lisbon's most interesting and historical neighbourhoods with its steep winding streets and traditional trams (most emblazoned with advertising) and this is where locals go about their daily activities as they have done for centuries. Because it's built on solid bedrock, it survived the massive 1755 earthquake and it retains its medieval charm with its maze of narrow streets, whitewashed houses with washing hanging outside and pretty flower pots in windows. In some places the trams get so close to the buildings that there's only just enough room for a person to separate them, and this separates the tourists from the locals. The Alfamans aren't bothered about being sandwiched up against a wall, but for visitors it's a different story altogether!

Tucked in behind the Alfama is one of Lisbon's most famous landmarks, the Castelo de San Jorge, which commands sweeping views of the city from every turret on the Moorish castle. It's 7Euros to get in - it used to be free - but it is worth it as it's a great way to get your bearings in this remarkable city. It's one of the historical areas that is hard to actually date. The fortifications date back to the second century BC but human remains have been dated back the sixth century BC and at various times the sight was occupied by Celtic tribes, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors and this is a great way to understand the complex and turbulent history of Lisbon.

The Baixa is the main city centre and the elegant Rue Augusta runs its length down to the Praca do Comercio which is the impressive square which sits at the heart of Lisbon's maritime culture.

These are pretty much the main tourist sights, and along the way there are all manner of museums, such as the Museo de Prado and the Military Museum and you could spend says wandering the city and still not cover that much.

Got a sea day coming up … will try and get some ship photos then ….

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