The kids had a long weekend this weekend due to parent/teacher conferences so we decided to take the opportunity to start our crazy 6 months of travel in Lisbon, Portugal. Just a short 1 1/2 hour flight from Barcelona, it was easy to get to and we knew we could see a lot in just 2 1/2 days. As I type this out I realized too late that I probably should have split this into at least two entries so I apologize in advance as this is a long one!! But long with pictures, not words, I promise!
View of Sesimbra on the peninsula just south of Lisbon as we come in for a landing
Liam hasn't slept in a crib in 2 years... and yet was super excited when he found out the hotel had left a crib in our room, apparently figuring most almost 4 year olds sleep in them???? We put down the railing and made it a toddler bed but he was still thrilled!
As we drove in on Thursday night it was hard to get a full view of the city since it was already dark, but you could tell right away that the city was more modern in appearance than Barcelona. The buildings were taller (I don't think there are any 21 story hotels or buildings in Barcelona!). However, by far Barcelona is much much cleaner. Lisbon felt run down to me. Grafitti was everywhere and yes, we have grafitti in Barcelona but not to this extent. Barcelona power washes their buildings, their street signs, everything... all the time. I've even seen them power washing the dumpsters along the street, yes, they are that clean! So other cities, by comparison, often come up short but by far, I'd say Lisbon got the short end of the stick as far as maintenance.
Intricate designs made of stones on the sidewalks
The castle from a distance... must go uphill to get to it...hmmmm
View of one of the beautiful streets in Lisbon
We saw a lot of shoeshining people along our way... Aidan really liked this (and shined his sneakers at the hotel!)
Statue of Dom Joao I, Praca da Figueira
Eating their Chupa Chups while waiting for the tram
Liam on the tram
Aidan on the tram - all smiles!
This was not our first time on a tram and we have a few in Barcelona that we've been on. But never have I been on a tram that takes you down such tiny, narrow streets!! I'm amazed at how well they navigate and was shocked that no cars were taken out during the process of taking some tight corners!!
Aidan and I on the tram
Liam and Josh on the tram
I think he does this just because he know it gives me the creeps...this was after he sucked the meat out of the head
As you can imagine, the kids were absolute troopers to have even made it this far during the day. So we decided to head back to the metro to go to the hotel. On the way we walked thru the Praca de Comercio, a beautiful square where we enjoyed a street performance (we always love to stop at these!).
On Saturday we decided to give the kids feet some rest and opted to take the double decker bus tour. Josh and I have found these to be a good way to get an overview of the city when you have limited time and/or small kids that don't want to do it all. It was a beautiful day, around 70, so we decided to ride on the top level. The city feels very run down in many places and the tour didn't highlight many historical sites. However the riverfront was quite bustling with the aquarium and science museum. We did the full circle on the tour and then went back to the aquarium.
Buildings that I liked while driving along the tour
And more I liked
I liked that this was a bit of out with the old and in with the new... a nice combo
Cable cars down at the Parque das Nacoes
Look at the top floor of windows - do you think this would be allowed in the US? Probably not... somehow lounging on the ledge would be considered a suicide attempt or something
By now it was lunch time so we looked in our guidebook for the riverfront area and saw we were really close to the Buffalo Brazilian Grill. The kids loved that they came to our table with skewers of meat. Aidan out ate all of us!!
Buffalo Grill on the water
Finally it was time for the much anticipated aquarium. My kids love the aquarium! And this one was no different than the rest - they raced thru it. I didn't see much here that I couldn't see at other aquariums but that's ok - it was all good and they had fun.
The boys with the mascot of the Lisbon Aquarium
Liam "listening" to the audio
Mom look at this!
Is Guy Fieri in the house?
After the aquarium we went outside to the pavillion area, called the Parque das Nacoes. This area had great peddle go-kart rentals that Liam and Aidan were dying to ride... mainly Liam. And you can imagine his disappointment when they didn't have any in his size. So Aidan got to ride the go-kart while Liam screamed. Finally Josh decided to take Liam on the cable car nearby as something special to do with him.
Soooo excited to do the go-kart
People were riding them all over the pavillion
Aidan showing off his Mario Kart shirt while riding on a kart!
Josh and Liam waving from the cable car
However, on the way to "drop off" Liam and Josh at the cable car, Aidan spied something that caught his attention. GRASS!! Green, lush grass. My kids have not played in grass since we were in Provence this past October. And before that was August when we were home. There is little grass here in Barcelona and what little there is, is not to be walked or played on... it's mainly where the dogs poop so even if they could, I probably wouldn't let them. So you can imagine Aidan's excitement when he saw this green grass that everyone was playing on. We returned the go-kart immediately and raced back to the park to play. He ran, did grass angels, somersaults, and anything else he could think of... and then Liam came back and joined him. The ran and rolled and played til they both literally felt ill. I think that's the sign of a good time!
Doing flips in the grass within moments
I'm sooooo HAPPY!!!!!!!!
Stalking his prey
Now Liam joins the fray
Run run run!
Wrestling... at least for once this is the right time and the right place!
I love grass too!!
Running some more!
This area was cool - little mounds that almost were set up like a target - they liked rolling over them
On the way back to a cab there was a water feature... of course all three of them ended up running thru it
And it's the sign that it was time to go back to the hotel. One more day gone and only half a day left to go. Sunday was Josh's birthday which unfortunately started off with him getting a case of food poisoning from the mussels he ate the night before. Poor Josh!! I felt terrible for him spending his birthday essentially in misery. As promised we took the kids to the zoo which was a 5 minute walk from our hotel. We only had a few hours before we had to leave for the airport so it was the perfect way to end a great vacation!
Look at that!
A baby rhino!
Checking out the map - where should we go?
The seals - so cute!
Awwww, father and son
And brotherly love with a pinch
It's a new species - Aidan turtle!
And a Liam turtle!
The first time I've seen a koala... I wish he hadn't been hiding his face though :(
Josh and Aidan with the birds - Josh wants one soooo badly. He's not getting one... Liam had no interest in having this picture taken UNTIL it was time to leave and we had to go pay for it. Then of course he wanted one... sorry pal!
So while Lisbon wasn't on my top list of must return to cities, we had an amazing time as a family. Everyone got along and had a great time. Next up, visitors from home!! Becky and Ray are coming out to see us at the end of this week so we'll have lots of blog entries to follow!!