ABOVE: The tourist office's free shuttle bus
dropped Regatta passengers off at the Praça
do Comercio, which was decorated with orange drums during our visit.
Lisbon shore excursions
from: Port of Lisbon
Lisbon is where Europe meets California: Its hills and cablecars
are reminiscent of San Francisco, its climate is like that of a greener San
Diego, its population has been multi-ethnic since Moorish times, and flower
power showed its strength in the "Carnation Revolution" of 1974, when soldiers
sported flowers in their gun muzzles and the Salazar dictatorship was overthrown
without a fight.
Today, thanks to millions of euros in public and private
investment, the Portuguese capital looks spiffier than ever--yet you'll still
find ancient neighborhoods that have staircases instead of streets, and antique
cablecars that haven't changed since I rode them as a boy in the early 1950s.
As a cruise passenger, you'll probably have just one day to
explore Lisbon. From the Praça do Comercio, wander around the new pedestrian
zone in the Baixa (Lisbon's main business district), then ride the Charles
Eiffel-designed Elevador Santa Justar up to the Chiado shopping area if you're
eager to spend money. You might then want to climb to at least one of the city's
miradouros (scenic overlooks) and allow time to explore the ancient
Alfalma quarter and the hilltop Moorish fortress of Castelo de São Jorge.
If you aren't up to hours of walking, you can book a shore
excursion like these tours that Oceania's Regatta offered during its
Highlights of Lisbon, a 4-hour guided bus tour with
visits to the Tower of Belém, the Cathedral, and the Jeronimos Monastery, or Scenic Sights of Lisbon, a 2½-hour
Cliff's Notes version.
Sintra and the Portuguese
Riviera, a half-day excursion to the former royal palaces and the seaside
resort of Cascais.
The Hope and Faith of Fatima,
an all-day pilgrimage to a Catholic shrine in Central Portugal that attracts some
4 million religious faithful each year.
information on Lisbon, see my illustrated 19-page city guide:
Port of Cádiz