Being built on several hills, there are no shortage of lovely views and vantage points in Lisbon. To reach many of them involves serious climbing up steep hills, but some have very welcome trams, funicular railways or escalators to take the strain. Just round the corner from our hotel is one very unusual example. The Elevator Santa Justa is an ornate gothic iron lift and bridge that carries you up 148ft (45m) to the Convent do Carmo, (a monastery destroyed in the 1755 earthquake on which re-construction was never completed).
On top of the Iron lift is a viewing platform which has become a popular tourist spot. We’d walked past the elevator several times over the past few days but long queues had put us off. I know we’re British but queuing for the lift was even beyond us, especially when the adjacent H&M store has entrances on the ground and 3rd floor which allow you to pretty much climb the same height on their escalators. However after dinner in a lovely vegan buffet (our second visit) we though the crowds would be quieter if we walked over to the top of the elevator.
Sure enough, no queue and being at the top meant only a short climb up a metal spiral staircase to the viewing platform on top. Unfortunately the absence of much metal work between Michael and a very long drop down turned him a very queasy colour and led him to freeze two thirds the way up the stairs. As it was a one way staircase I had to coax him up the final few stairs. Worse was to come. The views from the top were lovely, but alas not if the only thing you can see if the 3ft high guard rail around the edge. I’m guessing Portuguese people were a lot shorter in 1902 as by today’s standards the guard rail around the edge of the viewing-platform was very low. Michael stood frozen in the very centre of the platform. Bless him, he managed about 20 seconds before we had to defend. I went first down the descending spiral staircase with strict instructions to Mike to ‘look at me, don’t look down’.
Thankfully it was only one flight to the elevator car and he felt much more secure in that. Feet back firmly on the ground and I was informed that we ‘wouldn’t be doing that again’ and in a very strange turn of events, that Michael would be ‘going via H&M next time’ – a phrase I never thought I’d hear uttered from his lips!