Stumble into your own Medieval Times in the Alfama district, beginning at Castelo de São Jorge, an awe-inspiring citadel whose oldest parts date from the sixth century. Take in the panoramic view of the city from one of the turrets before heading around back to check out Olissiponia, a multimedia exhibit on Lisbon’s history that simulates the devastating 1755 earthquake and tsunami. Wander through the intricate alleyways, stopping for a galão (a Portuguese-style latte) at the terrace café on the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. Later, head to the Casa dos Bicos (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros 10), or "House of Spikes," an architecturally intriguing sixteenth-century palace that was one of the only buildings to survive the earthquake. You can’t go inside till spring, when the building will reopen as the José Saramago Foundation, home to the Nobel Prize-winning author’s extensive library. Down the street, pick up a snack of Old World sardines at Conserveira de Lisboa (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros 34, 218-864-009), a tiny shop where grande dame Regina Ferreira packages assorted fish into tiny tins, then affixes colorful vintage labels, just as her grandfather did when he opened the cannery in 1930. Finish the day at pois, café, a laid-back Austrian spot with homemade soups, salads, and strudels that also hosts rotating art exhibits.
5. Oddball Day
Published on Nov 12, 2009 as a web exclusive.