Lisbon: come rain or come shine (21 May 2014)

We arrived here in Lisbon on the morning of Sunday 18th May after a 16 hour overnight motor from Nazaré. There was no wind and a fair bit of a swell, so although Andy got the jib up for an hour during the night the wind was continually knocked out as the boat rolled over the swells, so we had to motor nearly the whole way. It was the usual pot buoy dodging and as the moon did not come out till 2330 it made for a stressful couple of hours when it was pretty dark, apart from the ranks of yellow lights on shore and the red lights at the tops of the onshore wind turbines.

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Sunset over the islands just off Peniche

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Andy at the helm in the early morning

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One of the many forts on the Tejo estuary west of Lisbon

Coming into the Marina was interesting, as we were half way through an ebb spring tide and there was quite a tidal eddy just outside the marina entrance. I was glad Andy was at the wheel. I think the marineros were impressed!

The first day was spent getting the washing done and catching up with chores and sleep. The Marina at Oeiras is lovely with bars and restaurants. The staff are friendly and speak good English. There are not that many visiting yachts here at the moment, although there appears to be a bit of a party boat at the end of our pontoon; 45 foot, blue ensign sporting, no boom or mainsail and very rusty anchor but plenty loud music and booze on board, with about 8 people in the cockpit with loud voices! It takes all sorts I suppose and luckily it did not stop us sleeping!

On the Monday morning, after breakfast with the fresh bread that is delivered here too, we went into Lisbon.The marina is on the west side of Lisbon just as the river meets the sea. We had a 15 minute walk along the “Passeo Maritimo” up to the station and then a 40 minute train ride into Lisbon. The trains here are reasonably cheap too but not quite brand new like the Spanish ones we used around Vilagarcia. It was very windy and a bit showery but we managed to get a good walk round the streets and get our bearings. Lisbon is big city and the river Tejo is very wide. There is a big bridge across the river that looks like the Golden Gate Bridge, just west of the city centre. The buildings are all very grand and majestic and the pavements are made of black and white cobble stones and there are many beautiful tiles on walls. The whole city was re built after the 1755 earthquake and only the Alfama district now has the tiny lanes and steps of the mediaeval town. There are a lot of African origin people in Lisbon, which is not surprising given all their former colonies in Africa. Everyone was very friendly and they were selling umbrellas instead of sunglasses on this rainy day!

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Typical pavement, fountain and grand building in Lisbon

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Yes they have trams here too!

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In the Madam X Cafe, note the astroturf seats! Gluten free cake!

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One of the lifts and yes it really is squint!

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Central station, Lisbon

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Statue to Saint Vincent

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Some typical wall tiles

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In the Alfama district

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Everywhere was gearing up for the Champions league final being held here at the weekend. It’s Real Madrid versus Athletico Madrid, so no Portuguese team, much to the disappointment of the locals. We overheard the football talk in the tiny bar up near the castle where we had a salad lunch. Although we don’t speak Portuguese we could make out “Benfica” and “Sporting” multiple times and the word “Keeper”. As in the world over, there was a bit of a heated argument and one of the guys stomped out of the bar!!

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Getting ready for the Champions League final 

Overnight on Monday it poured and the wind reached gale force. We were very glad to be tied safely to the pontoon in the shelter of the marina. By morning there was a hint of some brightness and we decided to head to Belem (a western suburb of Lisbon) to visit the Maritime museum.  It was a stunning museum building looking more like a huge Palace, exhibits with information in Portuguese and English and with lots of beautiful models and even old sailing dinghies, royal barges and sea planes in a huge new hall. The Portuguese really were at the forefront of navigation and exploration in the 1500 with Henry the Navigator providing the ships and money. A new ship type called the Caravel was even developed. I never realised that all the great explorers were actually Portuguese, Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias, Ferdinand Magellan. What amazingly clever and brave people they must have been.

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The old Monastery which also houses the Maritime Museum

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After the museum there was a brief dry spell when we managed to walk to the Tower of Belem which was built in 1520 as a gateway and Fortification for Lisbon. Apparently when it was built it was in the centre of the river but the river course changed after the earthquake in 1755! There are many sandbanks in the river Tejo and the narrow channel and tidal nature made it easier to defend, I suppose. The tower had survived remarkably well and has some amazing stone carving.

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Belem Tower

Further in to town is the Monument to the Discoveries, erected in 1960 to commemorate the 500 anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. On the square in front of the monument is a giant marble map of the world showing the Portuguese discoveries and colonies.

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Monument to the Discoveries

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So today (Wednesday 21 May), we are hunkered down in the Marina in the gales and rain! It was horribly windy during the night and we even put the wash boards in, although luckily we are facing nose into the SW wind. The weather is very unseasonable, because there is a big low pressure over Biscay  and the fronts are all coming south over the Iberian Peninsula.  Luckily it looks like the forecast is improving in the next few days.

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View through the spray hood Wednesday 21 May!

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Seas breaking on the sandbank shallows outside the marina

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Good surfing weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Lisbon: come rain or come shine (21 May 2014)

  1. Martin (gym)

    Didn’t realise you were off again! Great blog and really interesting. Good to see Andy’s in fine fettle – obviously born to be a sailor!

    Reply
  2. petraeag Post author

    Hi Martin

    Yes we are away again and already mostly down the coast of Portugal. I feel quite guilty about not coming in to the gym to see you guys over the winter, but I couldn’t face getting up early enough to see you training. Anyway we both lost loads of weight sailing last year and are lean and fit these days, well as lean as I will ever get!
    We made inroads into the whisky you kindly gave me and were sharing it with a couple of German sailors – Emile and his son Sven- just the other evening, they were most impressed.
    Anyway all the best for the summer and I will come and inspect the six pack when we return in end October from Sardinia. Pass regards on to all the others.

    Andy

    Reply

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