Lisbon Portugal is continental Europe's westernmost city, situated on the western fringe of the Iberian Peninsula hugging the Atlantic Ocean and River Tagus.
Its is both the capital and largest city within Portugal with a metro population of 3 million. Its a vibrant city combining the best of Old World European charm with the sophistication of today's metropolis. Lisbon is recognized as a alpha-level global city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism.
It is in fact one of the oldest cities in the world, and thus predates London, Paris and Rome by centuries. Its been a permanent settlement since Phoenician times 1200 BC. The city today is a living museum with it's many mosaic tiled streets, cafes, water fountains and grand Moorish castle over looking the harbor.
At the entrance to Lisbon is the imposing Rua Augusta Arch. The Arch is a reminder of the days when Portugal was a global super power with its many explorers as Vasco De Gama conquering trade routes on nearly every continent. Walking through the Arch one will immediately notice the intricate mosaic tiled street which stretches for blocks, dozens of street cafes and old street cars reminiscent of a different time.
The restaurants are exquisite specializing in the serving of only the freshest seafood and farm fresh produce. On nearly every street corner there are bakeries with the most enticing of cream stuffed pastries, shops selling chicken dinners and espresso bars. Fresh juice stands are also quite common.
Some North American travelers draw natural comparisons with San Francisco and rightfully so as they are both coastal towns, hilly, renowned for their suspension bridges and 20th century street cars.
The old section of Lisbon known as Alfama is like stepping back in time with its winding narrow streets, clothes lines strung over head, Ginja liquor shops and many quaint street cafes that feature live Fado music performances. Alfama provides a commanding birds eye view of Lisbon, and from here there are many's a golden sunset.
Nearby Lisbon one can find some of the nicest beach towns anywhere. Towns as Cascais, also known as the Portuguese Rivera and Costa di Caparica are easily accessible by local transit and provide a relaxing getaway from the the hustle of Metro Lisbon. Both destinations offer sandy beaches and wind sport activities.
The Costa di Caparica also serves as one of Portugal's surfing capitals.
Of course no trip would be complete without decent shopping. Lisbon offers a wide variety of shopping for the shopaholic. The Colombo Mall will not disappoint with its fine restaurants and name brand fashion boutiques.
While the weather in Lisbon can be extremely hot in the summer months, its normally quite dry much of the year and although hilly its very easy to walk to many of the attractions. The city is both safe and clean and is serviced by decent and cost effective public transport options. The taxi's are also very inexpensive and plentiful. The locals pride themselves in their English fluency, and especially in the tourist areas. Restaurant meals are very good and rather reasonable by European standards even with the exchange rates factored in. Overall the standard of living for the locals seems quite high, and one may notice the number of people always about the town exercising.
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