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Lisbon, Portugal
web: hfhotels.com
email: fenixlisboa@fenixlisboa.com

By Lois Foster Hirt, Correspondent

About Lisbon // After the big earthquake in the 1700's, the Marquis de Pompal designed and rebuilt Lisbon. It's a wonderful spread out city, so plan on taking either the excellent bus or metro system. Subway riders are rewarded with the bonus of diverse artworks in the metro station, including ceramic tiles for which Portugal is renowned. Since the city is conveniently divided into sections, consider exploring each as a day trip. Europe's longest suspension bridge and shopping center are located here, and wonderful beaches are just an hour outside the city. You'll hear the term "Fado," which means fate and refers to a poem. It is written in four-line free stanzas that is set to music. For a real definition of "Fado" visit Lisbon's night scene.

Where to stay // Hotel Fenix This four star hotel has 123 well-appointed rooms including four suites. Located in the Marques de Pombal Square across from the Edward VII Park and in the center of the business/banking district it is ideal for tourists or business people. It is easily accessible to the metro, buses and trains. Banquet facilities and three conference rooms are available. Relax in either of the two bars or enjoy Portuguese and international gourmet foods in the Restaurant Bodegon.

Where to eat // One of Portugal's delicacies is freshly grilled sardines served with olive-oil drizzled on crusty bread In the Alfama, at the Miradour Santa Luzia, stop at any of the cafes/bars with a view. Try Cerca Moura at Largo das Portas do Sol. Café Martinho da Arcada, Praca do Comercio 3 (01-887-92-59), where the literary have feasted since 1782. The item to order is cataplana, clam stew.

Things to do // Each section of Lisbon can be an adventure of its own. There is the riverfront area, The Alfama, the most beautiful and oldest part of the city that proudly exhibits its Moorish history. The Rossio District with its 18th- century facades and mosaic sidewalks is the modern part of Lisbon. The Chiado District has just been renovated. The Baixa Quarter is known for its boutiques, elegance and bohemian charm. The Bairro Alto is the baroque, hilltop district. One way to get up there is to take the Santa Justa elevator on the Rua de Santa Justa. The Fado houses are wonderful places to visit during the evening. The Jeronimos Monastery is found in the Belem District. The Tower of Belem, located on the Tagus River is Portugal's classic landmark. Museum choices are numerous. Visit Gulbenkian Museum and walk across the park area to the Museo del Cenro de Arte Modern. A small, enjoyable museum is Arpad Szenes-Vieira de Silva Foundatin. The Marionette Museum, the Military Museum, Casa de Fado e da Guitarra Portuguesa (Museum of Lisbon's Music and its Guitar) and the (tile) Museum will appeal to children. Also for children there is the Jardim Zoologico de Lisboa, Caloust Gulbenkian Planetarium and the Aquarium Vasco da Gama. The Parque Eduard VII is large and lovely. It contains the Botanical Gardens, a man-made lake with ducks and fish and activities such as a health center, gym, tennis, and swimming pools. Boat trips on the Tagus River are available. Climb to the top of St. Jorge's Castle (admission free). It was rebuilt in the 1940's and just renovated. It marks various events in Portugal's history. Enjoy the medieval village ruins; see beautiful views of the city and the suspension bridge. Portugal has its bullfights too, but unlike in Spain, the bulls aren't killed.

Transportation // Lisbon has various transportation modes. The metro is extremely convenient. Outdoor metro trains are another means of getting around. Entering the metro is like going to a museum. There are tile works and sculptures; all unique and done by different artists. It's a "trip" being on the bus and experiencing the driver negotiate some extremely narrow streets, especially on the way to St Jorge's castle and the flea market.

Places to shop // Visit the large flea market and shop the adjacent antique stores and food market. The metro drops you right at the upscale Vasco de Gama shopping center that is shaped like a ship. Check out the unique bathrooms. There is a metro stop at Columbo, the largest shopping mall in Europe. Each set of escalators has a different motif. Museum shops are wonderful. In Lisbon one can purchase artisans wares from all over the country. Look for brightly colored azulejos (tiles), Arraiolos carpets, copperware, crystal, pottery, silver, ceramics, hand-knit sweaters along with lace and embroideries. For books Bertand is a chain store in Portugal. Check out their web site.

Day Trips // Take a half-day bus tour out to Sintra, where Portuguese kings built summer palaces. This hillside resort with its beautiful vegetation is only about fifteen miles from Lisbon. Just outside Lisbon, visit the 18th century Moors Queling Palace. Delight in the lovely sights of the ocean, mountains, and narrow roads. Visit the Villa Palace, (some call it the fairy tale palace). Some of its ceilings are gorgeous and unreal. Enjoy the tales of their creation. The furniture and objects are exquisite. Take time to appreciate the area and city views from its balcony. After Sintra continue along to Cabo da Roca, the western most point of Europe. A lighthouse is situated on the spot where the Sintra Mountains join the Atlantic. Winding roads, a countryside punctuated by sheep and quaint homes provide picturesque vistas. Head along the coast through the resort towns of Cascais and Estoril,which are quite sophisticated and considered to be the Portuguese Riviera. In the region of Sintra there is the Archaeological Museum of Odrinhas where one can see two millennia of stone sculptures.

Tips // Cabs charge extra for each piece of luggage but not carry-ons. Subway day passes are available. Most museums are free. The Lisboa card will then allow you admission to various museums, monuments and other places of interest and includes free transportation around the city. See the Alfama during the day only for safety sake. Be cautious of pickpockets. Look for crystal and tableware factory outlets. Don't forget to get the vouchers for your V.A. T. (Value Added Tax) when you shop. The store must give you the stamped form. You will get back about 10 to 11% of whatever you spend over 11,000 escudos. Bring the form and receipts to the airport for your reimbursement. June is when the Festas de Lisboa occurs. There are three weeks of open-air parties for everyone. Banking hours are 8:30 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.

Weather // During the summer, days are cool in the a.m. and p.m. with temperatures in the high 70's and lows 60's. In January the highs are mid 50's and lows in the upper 40's. In October you'll find highs in the upper 70's and lows in the 50's. Plan on mid 50's during the winter months.

By Lois Foster Hirt, Correspondent

With many varied choices of things to see and do, I really needed more time here. I enjoyed taking the metro just to view the art in the stations. Although I couldn¹t bargain with some of the vendors at the flea market, I loved what I did pick up there. Standing at the western most point of Europe was thrilling. Being an avid reader, I found it a delight coming across something I had read about, even if it was just a street sign. I tried to have my picture taken in front of this place just as a special reminder of the wonderful trip we had taken.


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