The Big Red Bus in Lisbon

October 6, 2017 - Lisbon, Portugal

Another morning to sleep in and to linger over a late breakfast. With so many choices it wasn't hard to find things to savour. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, fried eggs and bacon, or just cold meats and cheeses, what was one to do?

Our coffee choices have been harder. Yesterday it was difficult to work out how to get a flat white or a long black with milk on the side so today we opted for a latté each. The coffee was good anyway.

Today we thought was a day for the Big Red Bus so we asked at the desk if there was a stop nearby. The guy on the desk said the nearest was along the waterfront to the area we went yesterday and he didn't think they sold tickets there. The best choice was to go up to the Marquis de Pombal Square and the choices were a tram or a bus.

We chose instead to walk up the hill toward Jardim da Estrela which was a bit of a climb and it took a while before the street names meant anything to us but we reached there in the end. Actually we could see the Basilica da Estrela for a while which led us in the right direction. The gardens were worth the effort just for the shade after the climb up the hill.

After the gardens it was a relatively flat walk with signposts leading us to the Marquis de Pombal Square and then we could see the buses on the far side. That was useful as that bus area would almost certainly be where we are to meet the Tempo Tours group tomorrow morning.

There were actually three different city tour buses operating; The Red Bus City Sightseeing, a Yellow Bus Sightseeing tour, and another red bus operated by Grays. We have always used the Red Bus tour and found a woman selling the tickets. The next bus arrived almost immediately and we joined the line filing on board.

Once on the top deck we found that Margaret's headphone connection was broken and mine was a bit dubious but worked. The remainder of the seats had filled up before there was any noise on the commentary system to ascertain if it was working or not. We persevered for a while but at the next opportunity we went downstairs to find a working system.

That wasn't really much help as it was mostly a bit of music with just the occasional interjection to point out a building or monument. This wasn't what we were used to on Red Bus tours. Usually there is a lot of information on the history and background to various parts of the city.

When we reached the stop near the Belém Tower a large contingent of people left the top deck so we went back up the top and found seats. I was going to say with working headsets but they were a bit dodgy as well. So between intermittent headsets and sparse commentary it was not the experience we had planned. We decided that we would get off at Stop 17 on the map which was near our hotel and go back for a swim.

As we approached the area and didn't look like stopping I went down to ask the driver. I was told it was not a stop. The next stop was Estátua do Duque da Terceira. We had a bit of a disagreement about where he could stop. Obviously not here as it was a major three lane road but I guess they never planned on stopping at the Museu Nacional Arte Antiga. Why would anyone go there when there are shops and cafés to visit?

We continued on to the Terceira Square where we got off. This was near where we had walked to yesterday so a bit of a trek back to the hotel. We stayed up in the built up area this time which was a bit tidier than the streets nearer the water. Or maybe Friday is the clean-up day.

I think I speak for Margaret as well, but I have to say I am more than a little disgruntled and disappointed with Lisbon as a whole. Apart from the over-attentive staff at the hotel (or any hotel) I feel everyone here has been trying to or actually has been taking advantage of the tourists. The maintenance of the Red Bus is a good example of the level of attention that seems to be applied everywhere. Most of the prices seem inflated but maybe the prices in Spain were deflated. Not Happy, Jan.

Meanwhile back at the hotel the pool was refreshing, the beer was cold and the sun was hot. We just laid back and enjoyed it.

Late in the afternoon we went for a walk up the road to a little park with a view down to the harbour. That was nice, and the smog had cleared with the afternoon breezes to give a better view. I was still too dischuffed to spend any time or money anywhere other than the hotel so we avoided a beer at 'Le Chat', a glass box with a view of the harbour.

Dinner tonight was another tuna salad and ham plate in the hotel garden. It is really a very peaceful place to sit, the food is good and tonight there was a glass of a good Syrah for Margaret. The house red for €8 a glass or the best red on their list for €9 a glass. Tough choice really.



Tiled front to one of the buildings
The river front in Belem
Belem Tower and the Aviator Memorial
Belem Tower and the crowds

1 Comment

October 15, 2017
I hope things have improved!
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