On March 9th, after a month in Central America we hopped on a plane and headed to Lisbon, via Paris, to begin the European leg of our trip. I think it’s fair to say that no one was looking forward to the ten hour overnight flight but the good news is we encountered no issues. Getting checked-in in Panama City was painless. The flight left on time and arrived in Paris a little early. The two hour layover passed by quickly and in no time we were arriving in Lisbon. Door to door the trip took about 19 hours and with the time change that meant we arrived at our flat in Lisbon at 7pm after arriving at the airport in Panama city around 7pm the previous day. We were tired.
Our plan for Europe is to start in Portugal, head south to Spain (for a couple of different stops), then head east to France and Italy before turning north toward Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. We hope to keep going to Scandinavia and finally the United Kingdom (in June) but we still haven’t nailed down those arrangements.
Back to Lisbon. Again, we’re doing home exchanges going forward. That means we’re staying in someone’s home (in this case a ground floor flat in the Areerio district). In exchange we’re either hosting them at our place in Prince Edward Island this summer, or we’re compensating them with ‘guest points’ – the currency of Homeexchange.com (as is the case with our host here in Lisbon) which you earn when you host someone in lieu of a reciprocal exchange. We’re veterans of Home Exchange (15+ exchanges in the past) and over the years we’ve accumulated a lot of guest points. Home exchanges can be hit and miss. The flat we had in Lisbon wasn’t exactly a hit, but it wasn’t terrible either. Let’s call it very basic. Call us spoiled but space is limited and on balance accommodations in Europe don’t usually offer the creature comforts we’ve come to expect in North America (and Central America). On the positive side it was in a great location with easy access to the subway (metro) and that made it easy to get around the city.
Back to Lisbon. To summarize, on day one in Lisbon we enjoyed a three hour walking tour and learned about it’s 3000+ years of history (Lisbon is the second oldest city in Europe after Athens). On a rainy day two we explored our local neighbourhood in the morning and visited the Oceanário de Lisboa in the afternoon. On day three we rented electric scooters (fun!) and toured the beautiful waterfront before eating supper in the Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon, where we enjoyed some live Fado Music.
This was the first time any of us had visited Lisbon. I think it’s fair to say the city won us over. It has a lovely vantage point on the Tague River just inland from the Atlantic Ocean and offers a little something for everyone. The old parts of the city have the charm of an Italian village, while the waterfont and Parque das Nações area (grounds for the ’98 Expo) were reminiscent of Copenhagen with impressive modern infrastructure. That’s a neat combination. We were impressed by it’s cleanliness. You could almost eat off the floor of the subway. Although it is hilly, Lisbon is a very walkable city offering gorgeous views. Finally, we enjoyed the food, especially the delicious custard tarts. On day four we packed up and took an Uber to the airport where we rented a car. Off we go to Spain.