Lisbon, Portugal

Our flight left at 6am. So that meant we had to get up at 4am in order to dress, check out, and drive to the airport. If you’ve ever packed with two toddlers running around, you know it’s best to wait until they’re in bed. So we packed from 8:30pm to 10:30pm, then tried to relax and get some sleep despite worrying about things we’d neglected to pack, how to catch the bus from the airport to the new hotel, and how to remember to stop saying “gracias” and start saying “obrigada/o” again. So. We both ended up with about three hours of sleep. Then we were on a plane trying to keep the kids quiet, waited for luggage, found our bus, remembered that Portugal is an hour ahead of Spain…

So we arrived at our hotel around 8am local time very bleary-eyed and without a place to rest yet (the hotel allowed us to drop our luggage but we couldn’t check in until 2:00pm). We set off on a roughly planned walk to see what we could find.

What we found is a beautiful city with lots of interesting architecture, people, and food. Even the kids were enchanted.

Lisbon, Portugal

And energized! Of course they’d got almost a full night’s sleep, so they had an edge on us.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Our hotel was in a terrific location near the water, but also close to a large pedestrian street with shops and restaurants. Most of them were closed this early, but we were able to scout.

Lisbon, Portugal

I should have demanded a pastry for fuel. Why didn’t I?

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

We made our way to the subway, which is large, clean, and organized. Just like at home, Linus acted like an old pro.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

I won’t lie: I was awfully tired and grumpy, a condition that didn’t improve until we finally decided to stop everything and get an early lunch a few hours later.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal: Calatrava-designed Oriente station

Linus admired the infrastructure. We didn’t even take this elevator, but he checked it out thorougly.

Lisbon, Portugal: Calatrava-designed Oriente station

This is the view as you come up out of the train station. You’re looking across the street toward a mall here.

Lisbon, Portugal: Calatrava-designed Oriente station

Lisbon, Portugal: Calatrava-designed Oriente station

We decided to stop for a break and a digestive biscuit snack. Mina really got into the break.

Lisbon, Portugal: Vasco da Gama shopping center at Oriente

Lisbon, Portugal: Vasco da Gama shopping center at Oriente

Lisbon, Portugal: Vasco da Gama shopping center at Oriente

We headed back outside again and toward the water.

Lisbon, Portugal

The World’s Fair was held in Lisbon in 1998. They build this funicular for it.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

We walked under the path of the funicular and debated whether to ride. I kept pushing for it, but maybe only because I was really tired.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

For the same World’s Fair, they build this Oceanarium. It’s apparently the largest aquarium in Europe. Hang on… you’ll get to see inside! It turns out I work with someone who actually visited Lisbon during the Fair. He said the line to get into the Oceanarium was hours long.

Lisbon, Portugal

Yen, who is an incredibly wise husband, realized that maybe we’d all stop being grumpy if we ate. We looked around for open restaurants, but of course we were too early for a Portuguese lunch. We discovered a McDonald’s was open. And even though we have never been inside one since we’ve been married, we decided… What the heck? The food was different from home and actually not too terrible. We both enjoyed ordering on the giant iPads – do they have that here too? Anyway, refreshed, fed, and now with two complimentary balloons, we set off again.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

It turns out that the Oceanarium is next to a science museum. We considered going in, but we visit the Boston Museum of Science so often that it seemed silly. Instead of we checked out the fountain outside.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Ok, I really wanted to ride in the funicular. And so did Linus. So finally we pooled our whining and convinced Yen to head over.

Lisbon, Portugal

“Look, anh hai! That’s where we’re going next!”

Lisbon, Portugal

I thought they might be a little nervous, but they sure weren’t. We were also happy to find that it was rather warm inside the little cars.

Lisbon, Portugal

Here we are flipping around and heading back.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

At last we headed into the Oceanarium. While Yen bought tickets, I stayed in the (warm) gift shop with the kids. I had to promise that we’d come back later and buy a particular toy for Linus (we did).

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

Like the bioparc we visted earlier, this turned out to be a lush, surprising experience.

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

They had a little section complete with fake icebergs for the cold-climate birds to sit on.

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

Some of them explored beyond their worlds.

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

Mina really got into the experience. Later I sat down with Linus to check out a fish that was just sitting near the bottom of the tank. My little scientist and I speculated about why he was sitting there, whether his friends would come visit him, how he felt, etc. With the swooshing sounds, the warmth, and the dark, I very nearly fell asleep. Luckily Mina and Yen joined us and jolted me awake.

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

One for each of us!

Lisbon, Portugal: Oceanarium

Here we are back outside again. The blue ball floating in the water is the mascot of the Oceanarium. So in this case he’s poked his head up from snorkling, I guess.

Lisbon, Portugal

We walked along this park and fountain system on the way back to the subway.

Lisbon, Portugal

Back through the mall… We discovered that once again, Mina had fallen asleep on my shoulders. Yen took over carrying her (he’s got just a little more upper body strength…).

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Poor little beastie. She was completely out! She slept through the walk, getting back on the subway, and the entire ride. Of course she woke refreshed and ready for action, while the rest of us really wanted a nap.

Lisbon, Portugal

We finally checked into our room, which was on the 5th floor and commanded a lovely but terrifying view. After this we closed up the window and didn’t let them look again.

Lisbon, Portugal: Lisbon Arsenal Suites

We connected back with Grandma and Grandpa, and set out again for a walk after a brief rest. Yen took this photo in particular for the sign behind me. The shop next door to our hotel is called Cod King. The lobby and common areas of the hotel smelled like dried cod – which is perfume to Yen but might not be so pleasing to all guests. You really can’t smell it in the rooms, I promise.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lots of transportation options in Lisbon: subway, city buses, modern cable cars, and these adorable old clunkers.

Lisbon, Portugal

Here’s the view when you stand inside one of the big Christmas trees (see the next photo for the outside view). Linus loved it, of course.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Our once-deserted pedestrian mall was now packed! I had completely forgotten that it was the last Friday night before Christmas. Everyone was out looking for last-minute gifts.

Lisbon, Portugal: Rua Augusta

Lisbon, Portugal: Rua Augusta

Grandpa was so good at helping me haul the kids around! Here we’re heading into the subway to buy passes for him and Grandma.

Lisbon, Portugal: Rua Augusta

The passes aren’t just for the subway, they also get you onto this old elevator. We decided the line was too long that evening, though.

Lisbon, Portugal: Elevador de Santa Justa

Debating what to do for dinner…

Lisbon, Portugal: Praça Rossio

Lisbon, Portugal: Praça Rossio

When you walk around looking hungry, restaurant owners jump out and try to convince you that their restaurant is the best. We ended up in this one because the owner was persistent, but also because Linus took a real shine to him. I wish we had a photo. Linus let the owner take him all around to see things in the restaurant, and later they even left together to visit the one next door. You might be shocked that I let a stranger take him, but the Portuguese are just so excited about children that it felt safe. Linus was pretty sad when it was time to leave.

Lisbon, Portugal: Restaurante Cesteiro

Lisbon, Portugal: Restaurante Cesteiro

Oh right – and there was food! Let’s see… Seafood pasta for the kids (that’s what I’m scooping up). Yen’s meal (in the foreground) was grilled squid. Mine was a mixed dish of several whole grilled fish, a beautiful chunk of salmon, and the most delicious potatoes since Peru.

Lisbon, Portugal: Restaurante Cesteiro

After dinner we found a little carnival and let the kids ride. I was surprised Mina wanted to ride with Linus, but probably shouldn’t have been.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Day two!

We woke to incredible fog.

Lisbon, Portugal

Yen used the fog as an opportunity to focus on more close-up objects – like the tiles on many of the buildings.

Lisbon, Portugal

All quiet again!

Lisbon, Portugal

Back to the elevator, which was deserted. I know it was silly to go up in the fog with no view, but we were really riding it for the infrastructure of it – for Linus, you know?

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Here’s Miss Lady getting ready to ride up…

Lisbon, Portugal

Dashing ahead at the top…

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

And now getting ready to head back down again.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Heading back into the subway. Linus kept saying, “Let’s go into that tunnel again!”

Lisbon, Portugal

Yen loves photos in which Mina is jumping so high that you can see her floating. Sometimes I think she’s made of rubber.

Lisbon, Portugal

You can see that the fog is slowly starting to burn off and it’s going to be a beautiful day.

Lisbon, Portugal

Have you ever seen a bicycle built for six? Let alone six Santas? Yen said, “That must be a seriously strong frame.”

Lisbon, Portugal

We took the cable car over to Belém.

Lisbon, Portugal: Tram 15E to Belem

Our plan was for Grandma and Grandpa to tour this monastery (yes, it’s really a monastery – so much for vows of poverty) while we took the kids for a walk, but they decided they preferred the walk too.

Lisbon, Portugal: Belem

We discovered that we had to cross a busy road – luckily there was another tunnel for Linus!

Lisbon, Portugal: Belem

Here’s the Henry the Navigator monument. It’s way bigger than you can tell here – I guess I was rather far away.

Lisbon, Portugal: Belem

Lisbon, Portugal: Belem

We walked along the water from the monument to this tower.

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Heading in… I feel terrible! We went in ahead of Grandma and Grandpa and discovered later that they weren’t able to follow: they don’t take credit cards and Grandpa only had a €50 bill. They patiently waited outside until we returned.

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

We probably shouldn’t have let Linus actually touch the cannons, but he was absolutely fascinated by them.

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Our little adventurer ponders the horizon.

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

The tower had lots of little nooks and crannies for our little explorers.

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Wow, we walked a long way!

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Lisbon, Portugal: Torre de Belém

Afterward we were hungry! We started walking back and looking for a place to eat. Linus made his choice clear.

Lisbon, Portugal: Belem

Lisbon, Portugal: Belem

Hey, look who we saw driving a cable car!

Lisbon, Portugal: Belem

We ended up near a famous bakery. Of course we bought a few of the egg custards, and then we found a little shawarma place next door.

Lisbon, Portugal: Pastéis de Belém

And back again on the cable car.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

We stopped back at the hotel for a brief rest. Here are the kids having a biscuit party under the window. (Pants optional)

Lisbon, Portugal: Lisbon Arsenal Suites

Lisbon, Portugal: Lisbon Arsenal Suites

Grandma and Grandpa decided to some exploring on their own, so we set off on another walk. It just occurs to me that we look like the sculpture!

Lisbon, Portugal

We decided to hop on one of the old cable cars and visit the castle that overlooks this part of the city.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

It was… a close right. It was awfully bumpy, and I as pretty anxious trying to hold Mina and stay upright. One woman finally shouted at some people to give me a seat.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal: Miradouro de portas do sol

We saw signs like this everywhere. Luckily we experienced no problems.

Lisbon, Portugal

Here we are up in the castle at the top. I found myself thinking about people hundreds of years ago thinking, “Ok, let’s put a step there… a fountain there…” Strange to imagine.

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

Mina is obsessed now with peacocks, which she calls “peacats.”

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

Lisbon, Portugal: Castelo Sao Jorge

I wsn’t interested in taking a cable car back down, so we decided to hoof it. Linus walked with me and chatted the entire way. I really enjoy our little talks.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

At the bottom, we discovered that the carnival was wrapping up, but they had decided to pack the cars last. The kids got to have one more ride. Of course they chose the same car as last night!

Lisbon, Portugal: Praça da Figueira

This time Mina sat in back, though.

Lisbon, Portugal: Praça da Figueira

We had a little dinner (which ended with some naughty behavior by the kids), and the next morning we headed home. I think we were all ready. Traveling is wonderful, but sometimes going home is nice too.

Lisbon, Portugal

We’ve booked our next adventures, though! In February we’ll do a long weekend in DC, one of our favorite weekend trips. And in April, we’re meeting friends in the Azores (islands in the Atlantic that are part of Portugal). Yen and I are really looking forward to that – we met Peter and Cindy way back in 2011 when we were all in Costa Rica. We’ve only spent one evening actually with them, and we’re so looking forward to a week to get to know them and their four-year-old son, Jamie. Stay tuned!