From our hotel, we drive on Avenue da Liberdade towards downtown. This avenue is lined by world famous designers. It is as if we are strutting on Lisbon’s catwalk in a sporty and progressive Audi TT. Through our windows, we see a painter on the sidewalk sketching a couple in love, artisans offering handmade handicrafts, and a few outdoor cafes filled with tourists and locals enjoying their breakfast.
Arriving in downtown area, we are greeted by relatively easy traffic despite the fact it is the morning commute hour. The downtown area, Pombaline Baixa, was constructed after the 1775 devastating earthquake. The city blocks are well organized in grid with many one-way streets. Learning from the painful destruction, the city builders in 18th century constructed the buildings in Pombaline Baixa with the probably-known-as-the-first-earthquake-resistance construction techniques. Marching troops were used to simulate earthquake on the architectural models.
The most pedestrian-and-tourist-friendly street in downtown is Rue Augusta just north of the Praça do Comércio. Outdoor restaurants and cafes are found at the center of the wide and mosaic tiled Rue Augusta, while global brand stores on the sides provide unlimited options for retail therapy. Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, Modern, and Post-Modern buildings in downtown exude the importance and the glory of Lisbon in the past and the rich heritage of the present.
In late morning, the downtown is a hive of activities. Pigeons, tourists, and locals are enjoying the Mediterranean weather at expansive squares with ornate water fountains and large statues. The historical bright yellow tram can be spotted from time to time moving along the side of the modern red trams. Originally introduced in the 19th century imported from America, the original tram was called Americanos. Its skinny profile is still best suited to serve the steep hills and curvy tree-lined narrow streets of the old quarters...@driving-vacation.com