Hot Lisbon Action

10Mar11

Following my recent forensic profiling of Lisbon’s premiere tourist attraction, I have been inundated with emails. On the surface, these emails mainly offer cheap, erectile dysfunction medicine – which obviously I don’t need! (I’ve already got loads). However, reading between the lines I think they may actually be saying “thank you for your recent forensic profiling of Lisbon’s premiere tourist attraction. Please may I / we have further insights into gadding about in Lisbon”.

In response to this unprecedented global demand I have produced a comprehensive guide to local activities and delivered a Lisbon or Lisboff verdict on each. The prestigious Time Out magazine is already not calling this guide ‘indispensable’.

It begins directly below this superfluous sentence.

Santa Justa Elevator

The Santa Justa Elevator or ‘Elevator’ as they say in Portuguese, is 45m high and I’m pretty sure it was designed in a neo-gothic style by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard from 1900 to 1902 if memory serves.

The short ride from the lower to the upper streets costs €10. I am unable to describe this in detail as there is no way I’m paying to have a bit of a go on a lift. After all, I can ride the ones at Lakeside Shopping Centre for free all day or until the security guard (hi Gary!) catches me.

I'm standing outside the elevator and I literally could not be happier about it!

Correction. I have just taken my 'standing in front of an elevator delirium' to a whole new level of ecstasy. Somebody call an ambulance. Incidentally, I am deliberately showing my underpants as I am very much a hip-hop gangsta' and this is what we do I believe.

Verdict: Lisboff

Dining out

Our first restaurant experience was at Toma Lá Dá Cá. As we sat down, a waitress spread various starter treats before us with a flourish that seemed to say ‘eat, enjoy, feast!’. When the bill later arrived these unasked for treats had a price that seemed to say ‘pay, over the odds, now!’.

I later learned that charging a disproportionately high price for unordered bread and cheeses is a common practice in Lisbon, particularly if they think you may be a tourist. I’ve no idea how she guessed I wasn’t local as my travel guide was securely tucked away in my bum bag.

Having successfully tickled my bird-like appetite with three large cheese rolls and tub of sardine paste garnish, I was ready for my main meal. My steak arrived accompanied by fries, rice, salad and sliced beetroot. The addition of a kiwi fruit would have ensured all five major food groups had been covered.

This photo is of a different meal to the one described above. Please send all complaints about the slapdash inaccuracy of this blog to the usual address.

It was actually delicious and even with the cheeky ‘tourist levy’ it was still excellent value at €29 in total. If you add on the tip I left it came to €29 in total.

Verdict: Lisbon

Cristo-Rei

The 100m tall Cristo-Rei statue stands on the left-bank of the Tagus River and is heavily inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. A 1949 tape recording of an ‘ideas for a massive monument’ committee meeting has recently emerged. My transcription team have written up an exclusive extract below:-

‘Hi guys, thanks for coming in on a Saturday. Particular thanks to Clare for bringing in the pastries (general appreciative murmering. Someone sneezes). Guys, my proposal vis-a-vis an idea for a massive monument is to proactively inject a gargantuan amount of capital and labour over a ten year period to build a statue which is very, very simlar to a nearby world famous statue but which won’t be anywhere near as good. Who’s with me? (general appreciative murmering. A pigeon coos softly in the background. Might be a wood pigeon. Someone sneezes).’

The Messiah. Plus you can just about see the statue of Christ in the background. Please send all complaints about flippant blashemy to Susie Harrison.

Verdict: Lisbon (It may lack originality but I wouldn’t kick it out of bed).

Museu do Chiado

We popped along to the Museu do Chiado to view the work of nineteenth century Portuguese artist Columbano (played by Peter Falk in the long running TV series). As we tried to enter, our way was barred by a grey-haired lady with the teeny, tiny physicality of a mouse. “Tickets?” she barked with the guttural authority of a much larger mouse. It appeared that although the exhibition was free, we still needed tickets from reception.

There’s nothing like a bit of bureaucratic red tape to put me in the mood for art appreciation so we hurried off to collect our free tickets. I breezily fanned the €0.00 entry guarantors as we once again came waist to face with titchy ‘Senhora Vin Diesel’. Grabbing both tickets, she began an intense inspection to verify we hadn’t crafted clever forgeries in the three minutes we had been out of her presence. Finally satisfied, she beckoned us in to the hallowed room with an impatient ‘what are you waiting for’ motion.

I wouldn’t want to suggest that my overriding first impression of the work of Columbano was that it hadn’t been worth the hassle but it hadn’t been worth the hassle.

Hands up if you think the inclusion of this photo stretches an already weak 'comedic misunderstanding' to breaking point.

There were two more rooms to explore and at each one our completely free tickets were vigorously inspected by members of the little old lady mafia. I doubt I’ll bother to return for the forthcoming exhibition by Renaissance artist Atol Fonzarelli (played by Henry Winkler in the long running TV series).

Verdict: Lisboff

Feira da Ladra (Flea Market)

Lisbon’s giant flea market has been around in one form or another since the 12th Century. It is a colourful riot of hustle and I think I noticed some bustle at one point. The main highlight for me was spotting a busker playing a tuba that looked remarkably like my brother (the busker not the tuba).

I was so taken aback by the busker's similarity to my brother, Paul, that I almost gave him several euros. Almost.

Verdict: Lisbon

Lisbon is a beautiful, exciting, sun-washed gem of a city. It is a pleasure simply to wander the streets and alleyways, occasionally pausing to watch a street performing doppelganger of a sibling. It doesn’t have the suffocating tourist infrastructure of some other European cities and feels like a well kept secret. With the ‘niche’ readership figures of About a Gadabout, this article is unlikely to change that.

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8 Responses to “Hot Lisbon Action”

  1. 1 Billis

    Love it dbn. Giggled like a little girl all the way through.

  2. 2 davexxxx

    Thanks Ian. I aims to please.

  3. 3 Ho

    top shizzle

  4. 4 StevieC

    Lisbon is well good innit. Ive spoken to some people at Time Out and they are interested in you writing a new series of guidebooks on top massive statues that closely resemble existing famous statue landmarks. They are prepared throw in a helicopter and two months subscription if youll do it!

    • 5 davexxxx

      I’ll do it! I’m thinking of calling the article ‘A Guide to Top Massive Statues That Closely Resemble Existing Famous Statue Landmarks by David Nolan aka ‘The Gadabout’. Although I am open to suggestions from the Creative Team at Time Out.

  5. Hilarious! Pity about your experience at Museu do Chiado. I’ve got fond memories of the place and keep meaning to revisit but I know what you mean about pointless bureaucracy.

    Love the idea of the breakfast meeting about the poor imitation statue too.

    • 7 davexxxx

      Thanks Julie. I very much like the look of your planned trips for 2012. Enjoy!


  1. 1 Czech Us Out « About a Gadabout

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