DonQui is in Lisbon for a couple of days. It is a spur of the moment idea prompted by a desire to visit a great city he has never been to before along with the opportunity for a bit of southern European ambience and warm sunshine.
Readers will be well aware of DonQui’s love of food. When he stumbles upon the Mercado da Baixa he feels that he has come to the right place.
After a grazing on some of the delicious free samples on offer he cannot pass up the temptation of purchasing some smoked sausages to take home with him.
For a major city, Lisbon is relatively small and compact which should make it perfect for simply wandering around. Perfection, however, is marred by the choking traffic belching fumes up his nostrils with cars, vans and motorbikes leaving their engines to idle as they wait to move on.
Fortunately there are many pedestrianised roads but these too have their hazards. Uneven and very slippery cobblestones mean that he has to tread very carefully.
His chosen stable is the very pleasant Lisboa Carmo Hotel, on the Largo do Carmo square which is where the revolution of 1974 overthrew the dictatorship. Close to the Bario Alto with its many bars, cafés and restaurants, the Hotel is perfectly placed as far as DonQui is concerned.
Despite the cobblestone hazards, DonQui enjoys the fact that he is able to walk everywhere he wishes to go without needing to use public transport. This allows him to slowly explore the city and there are plenty of interesting back roads providing respite from the traffic.
When some of the many hills become a bit much he takes advantage of the funky funicular trams which whisk him back up to the top of the hill for a very reasonable price.
The weather is just about perfect. Each day is sunny with the temperature reaching 27º C in the day and dropping down to around 15º at night. Neither too hot nor too cold it makes for a very comfortable few April days.
One of the great joys of southern Europe is the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely lunch or a drink outside with good food and wine at reasonable prices. Lisbon is no exception. Although there are perhaps fewer restaurants and cafés spilling out into the streets than DonQui might have expected there are still plenty of good places — the danger of traffic fumes not withstanding. The first place DonQui stops at for a beer is marred by the fact that he does not notice the bus stop nearby. When a tourist bus pulls up and leaves its engine idling for a good 10 minutes, DonQui decides to move on.
A far better choice is Flor Dos Arcos, at the end of a winding ally in the medieval Alfama district near the Fado museum. Here he samples for the first time the delicious cheese that is offered (for a small price) along with bread and olives. With freshly caught sea bass to follow DonQui has an excellent lunch under the shade of an umbrella in a friendly, casual atmosphere.