An afternoon flight from Amsterdam to Lisbon got us to our overly-hipster 5-star conceptual hotel Fontecruz Lisboa.
But the view from the top floor in Baixa near Rossio was spectacular, with Barrio Alto on one side and the Alfama on the other.
We unpacked ourselves, gathered our gear, and headed out for our first adventure in Portugal, an exploration of the Alfama. Grabbing a taxi nearby we wound our way up the crooked and cobbled streets of the Alfama towards Castelo De Sao Jorge. As the streets wound tighter and more narrow the taxi driver suggested a place to let us off and walk the rest of the way. It was a stunning viewpoint of Largo Santa Luzia with sweeping views of the Rio Tejo and the Sao Vicente De Fora Monastery.
We walked over to Sao Vicente only to find that it closed at 6pm and didn’t allow entry after 5pm – it was 5:10. So we turned ourselves around and threaded ourselves up through narrow streets towards the Castelo De Sao Jorge. We didn’t go to the castle because the narrow and winding streets were just the experience we were looking for. From here we had escaped the Football fans partying in the Baixa in support of Portugal playing Germany later that evening in Lisbon.
We stepped out to explore the Igreja de Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa and then wandered the streets of the Alfama looking for a place for dinner. After wandering around aimlessly and turning down tourist restaurant after tourist restaurant we ended up at Cruzes Credo Café which had rave reviews on Yelp. It’s 8 tables packed, we waited 30 minutes for a seat on a couch and chair with a tiny table not large enough to hold our plates. It was simple fare and satisfied our craving for an introduction to the flavors of Portugal – which apparently are heavily laden with salt. I ordered my first (and possibly last) bacalhau (salted cod) which was good, but just so salty that my low sodium diet forbids me from ever ordering it again.
After dinner we headed towards Baixa and up the Rua Augusta back towards Rossio and our overly-hip hotel. But not before we stopped to buy some inexpensive Portugese shoes, a nightcap of port and second dessert of Portugese marzipan.