Hidden Jewel of Europe

Lisbon has a feel of a small city although app. 2.8 million people live in Lisbon Metropolitan area. The city center remains easy to access, and there is plenty to do and see. Special focus is on food, which we thought was decent, but not amazing, and drinks, which we found amazing. The wine (and especially the port wine) is extraordinary.  

We stayed in the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa, which is located near the center with a nice walking past a great little cafe and breakfast place. From there you can walk, grab a cab, or hop on/off the bus. We started in the lower district of the city and learned that the whole city changed after 1755 when the city was almost completely destroyed by a combination of devastating earthquake followed by a deadly tsunami. Afterwards, Marquis of Pombal created a new architectural plan, and rebuilt the city using buildings that could resist future earthquakes.

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The main Commercial Plaza (Praça do Comércio) on the Tagus river leads into Pombalina Baixa, one of the first and most faultless earthquake-resistant urban planning and constructions examples in Europe. This new business district was envisioned as a market area where every trade is located in specific street (cobbler, jewellers, etc). Sarajevo's old Turkish quarter had the same layout. Today Pombalina Baixa (lower quarter) remains a popular tourist spot and the heart of Portugal's banking and commerce.   

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After the lower district, you should see Park of Eduardo VII, then taste the Ginjinha which is a sour cherry liquor that you can buy on the street for 1 euro,  and finish with the visit to Belem Tower. This tower is nice but not worth the actual climb on very narrow and spiral staircase where tourists are trying to go up and down at the same time. The whole experience is unpleasant and the view is not worth it. What is worth in the neighborhood of Torre de Belem is the famous pastry shop Pasteis de Belem where you have to try amazing Portuguese custard tarts of the same name. In the evening, make sure you go out to Barrio Alto, with its narrow streets packed with bars and cafes. You don't have to actually get into any of the bars, you can just buy a drink and hang out with everyone in the street.  

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