There are two sides to every story, and to every river—including the broad Tagus River that flows past Lisbon and out to the Atlantic. Almost half the population of the metropolitan area lives south of the river, connected to the city by a web of ferries (below), and two major suspension bridges—one of which (above) has a stunning and not-accidental resemblance to San Francisco’s Golden Gate.
It seemed a shame to visit such a water-focused city and never leave land, but we had no definite place to go on the other side until our food tour with Eat/Walk/Drink Lisbon. Our guides, one of whom lives on the south shore, pointed us toward a picturesque walk along a nearly abandoned (but surely soon to be developed) waterfront area in Cacilhas with good seafood restaurants.
The ferries for the Almada Peninsula, our destination, leave from the Cais do Sodre terminal, where buses, trams, Metro, commuter rail and the ferries all meet in an area once known for sailors’ bars and brothels. As in many cities, that’s been replaced by trendy clubs. The ferry ride also gave us a broad view back to the city and its hills, as well as a pleasantly breezy 15 minutes cruise. The ferry ride uses the regular Lisbon transit fare card.
The ferries arrive at this dock at the tiny port of Cacilhas, on the tip of the Almada Peninsula, where a large bus and Metro station provides connections for commuters going further. But our goal was just off to the right behind the docked cruiser. The area around the pier has many restaurants, some well-known, others not, all anxious for business. So anxious that waiters for the ones farther on stand in front of the closer ones, trying to snag customers. So very anxious, in fact, that the ferry crew have had to shoo away waiters with menus who were obstructing the exit onto the dock!
Passing those places by, we started out along the Rua Ginjal, a narrow street with warehouses and other commercial buildings on one side and the river on the other. Before containerized shipping, ships tied up here directly to load and unload. Today, the warehouses are mostly abandoned, and political graffiti is easy to find, as well as “artistic” moments of shape and light. This poster mocks the government’s recent expensive deal to by submarines from Germany with the slogan “Our government is buying submarines because they know the country is sinking!”
The piers that remain are a popular spot for local fishermen and picnickers.
At the end of the half-mile walk is a tiny beach used by local kids.
Before the beach, some of the derelict buildings are beginning to be reclaimed for housing, ultimately probably quite pricy housing.
Our goal, fittingly named, was Ponto Final, or Endpoint. A pleasant view, a table with an umbrella and good food made for a delicious and relaxing meal before the walk back. The meal was highlighted by discovery of a wine type we hadn’t known before: red green wine. Portuguese green wines (Vinho Verde) are named for their age rather than color; the restaurant’s proprietor comes from a region with an assortment of reds made to drink young.
During the meal, there was a brief excitement as children gathered at the edge of the restaurant dock to watch a school of grey mullet churning the water, perhaps in search of bread crumbs, perhaps just because it’s what they do.
Here’s more information on Ponto Final and the Cacilhas/Almada area.