Have you ever visited a destination that immediately spoke to you? It happened to me this summer on a road trip to Montana. I experienced that same feeling recently when I stepped out onto the balcony of our Seabourn Sojourn suite to view the pastel colored buildings of Lisbon perched on the hillsides in front of me. “Come explore our nooks and crannies,” they seemed to say.
Alan and I chose, Lisbon by Private Trolley Car, a Seabourn Sojourn cruise excursion as our means of exploring Lisbon. The combination bus, walking and trolley car tour gave us an overview flavored with the smells and sounds of this Portuguese city.
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After a brief bus ride through old town, our tour guide led us off of the bus and onto the mosaic paved streets of Lisbon’s central shopping district. Pastry shops lined the way tempting us with extravagant baked goods. A walk down a side street proved to be a shoe shopper’s paradise. Christmas lights dangled overhead promising a colorful glow once the switch is turned on later in November.
Later, we rode the bus along a wide boulevard of upscale homes and foreign embassies before stopping at Jeronimos Monastery. This is one of the only buildings to survive the 1755 earthquake that devastated Lisbon, along with a tsunami and earthquake-related fires. Accompanied by groups of school children, we stepped inside the 16th century church and cloister to view intricate stonework of ropes and other navigational symbols that celebrate the grand masters of the sea.
From the monastery, we walked to the boarding area for our private trolley tour of Lisbon. As the car clanked along the rail, two Fado singers serenaded the group to the competing clang, clang, clang of the trolley car bell. After a hostess served glasses of tawny port, we, too, were singing Fado while the car climbed up and down the narrow lanes of Lisbon.
As the bus returned to the pier, Alan and I talked of returning for a Lisbon land-based adventure. When we do, you’ll likely find us at a sidewalk cafe sampling a Portuguese pastry after a day of exploring Lisbon.