Explorers and adventurers: journeys beginning and ending

By | May 11, 2016

We set off in Lisbon today to find some decent coffee.  Lynette had seen a place that the guys from Holy Belly, in Paris, had recommended on social media from a trip they’d made to Lisbon. The Montana Cafe turned out to be an excellent suggestion, with great coffee and food and an excellent India Pale Ale brewed here in Lisbon.

DSCN6331Out there, the wind is buffeting the big ferry cats which ply the waters across to the other side.  Now, as they skew into the wind to find a safe mooring at the pontoon we can muse about the caravels we might have seen many hundreds of years ago as the Portugese explorers set forth down along the coast of Africa and to the spice islands and Asia: gathering spices to make spoiled meat more palatable in those pre-refrigeration days.

Not far from here, Vasco de Gama returned from his voyage around the Cape of Good Hope at a time when many believed that the horizon was the place where giant eddies swirled or sea monsters lay ready to reduce boats and humans to memories.

Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea. – Charles Cook

A chat with the waiter led to his suggestion that we’d like to see the area in Lisbon where the lovely IPA I’d been drinking had been brewed.

DSCN6333A cab ride through twisting streets later and we found the Oitava Colina microbrewery tucked away in a street in Graca. The brewers are apologetic that they have no taproom on site and recommend a nearby restaurant which stocks their products.

We climb back up the cobbled street to the Fire Station and left to find Damas; a bar and restaurant which looks like it’s been created in a former bakery.  Besides having more of the cerveza artesanal (craft beer) on hand they also have an excellent playlist happening including great Australian sounds from Tame Impala and Chet Faker.

DSCN6337A room out the back on the way to the bathroom is set up with lights and decks, speakers and some formidable looking sub-woofers.  It will clearly get a bit more boisterous here later.

We decide to find our way back down the hill and set off to find a cafe we’d located using Yelp which promised good views over the city and the nearby Castle of St George.

It’s right, and then a climb up the hill before a hard left and a stroll through a peaceful square to the cafe which is a booth on the terrace overlooking the city.

DSCN6342We enjoy the view to the sound of the huge bell from the nearby church, taking in the colourful buildings and street art and the distant bridge across the white capped water; whipped and whirled by the gusting westerly winds.

The wind is getting cooler as we zip our jackets closer and head downhill again in search of somewhere to have some dinner.


DSCN6346On the way, we get to see the narrow streets and lanes which form a labyrinth where humanity jostles along sharing sights and sounds; where laundry flaps, Lisbon style, on lines outside windows.

We pass small cafes and restaurants inside low doorways, and negotiate steps and cobbles, compromising space for passing people and cars, down to a small square where we can look over the tram route which worms its way up and down these narrow streets: sharing the space with all sorts of other traffic and making the concerns of Newcastle regarding shared road spaces in Hunter and Scott streets seem like a long way away indeed.

DSCN6349We can see a restaurant which looks like it should have a view out across the harbour and we are not disappointed. An excellent dinner is enjoyed; ended by that funny sense of awareness when we realise that two of the other couples quietly having dinner are also English speakers.  I recommend the lamb curry which had been excellent and we share small talk before continuing on our downward passage.

We have no special navigation skills but simply let gravity take its course. Further downward, deeper into what appears to be a circulatory system of local vitality: fado restaurants and hole in the wall cheese and wine shops. This is the Alfama district, with a history stretching back hundreds of years and buildings which seem to exude the past and a welcome to the present.

Walking legs now weary, we hail a cab and are pleased to be able to make the driver understand our broken pronunciation of the address of our AirBnB apartment and head ‘home’ to pack and get ready for our next adventure. Tomorrow morning we’ll grab an Uber and head to the airport to pick up a rental car for the drive down the coast and East into Spain.

Tomorrow night we’ll be in Seville: I need a haircut.



4 thoughts on “Explorers and adventurers: journeys beginning and ending

  1. Sue Morris

    Am loving following your adventures, did you see the cork postcards in Lisbon? I really liked Porto so hope that you are visiting there and get to taste a white port.

    1. admin Post author

      We didn’t see postcards, or maybe we thought they were coasters, as we saw some of them! I’m hoping that we’ll have time to visit Porto when we are near the end of our anti-clockwise loop around Portugal and Spain. We have 3 nights booked in Seville and will then take it as it comes.

  2. Juzzy

    Love following the adventure! Drive safe and look forward to the next round! 🚙🚙🚙


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