Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Wonderful and Exhaustive Day in Lisbon

Saturday, 9 May, 2015:


Before starting today's blogpost about our marvelous day in Lisboa, I must say a few things about the Portuguese language.

The language spoken by the locals has three effects on me. 

First, I like the sing-song quality of Portuguese that makes everyone sound happy with life.

The second thing that I take away from listening to Portuguese is that it sounds a lot like Russian. I don't know why, it just does.

Finally, it makes me appreciate even more our time in Murcia where for the last five months I have known what everyone around me is saying. Here in Lisbon, after hello (hola) and thank you (obrigado), I am pretty well lost. Fortunately, most of the Portuguese people that we have met speak excellent English. Still, I feel dumb trying so feebly to communicate.

That said, let's talk about another excellent day in this wonderful city that included a ton of walking. Here are some of the things that we saw on the way to the Alfama area of Lisbon.

Hammer Time?

Too early for wine,
even for Laurie

Blue tile work is everywhere
we look

Atop light posts

Marks the spot

Portuguese park their bikes
with a certain flare

My beloved Grandfather
was named Evaristo

Nice park/observation point

Roosters are an icon of Portugal

Hope is just around the corner

Lots of stylish old buildings

Luiz de Camões
Portuguese Poet

 Great! A book fair

With interesting titles

Laurie found a store

And amazingly bought nothing. This would definitely not be the norm for the day.

Lisbon, where old VW vans
go for reincarnation

Lisbon has a great fleet of trollies

And a ton of Scouts in uniform today

 So true!

So we each had a pastel de nata
with our espresso

 The 28 line

We had arrived at the base of our goal area, the mysterious Alfama area. 

The Sé, Lisbon's Cathedral,
is in the Alfama

 Somewhat austere interior

The main altar area

A side chapel

Another side chapel

Laurie lit three candles

One each for Kevin, Jacob and our as yet unnamed granddaughter who arrives in July.

After we were done seeing all that the Sé had to offer, we hopped on the 28 trolly to go up the hill to the top of the Alfama area to see the Castelo de São Jorge.

Where the trolley dropped us off

Laurie is ALWAYS
mugging for the camera

Two large cruise ships in the harbor

That meant lots more tourists than yesterday were in the streets today.

No electricity lines, no trollies

The Alfama district is old


A rest stop outside the Castelo
was needed on a hot day of walking

Sangria filled the bill


Partly due to the cruise ship crowd, the line to buy tickets to get into the Castelo were long, slow moving and in direct sun light.

We mutually decided that we have seen lots of European castles over the last six seasons coaching in EuroBall and that we would skip this one today.

Instead we slowly walked down
the magical Alfama

It was laundry day . . .

. . . for lots of people

A tribute café to the 28 trolly

I thought that some of the doors
in the Alfama were ridiculously small

Laurie did not agree

The Alfama's entrant into the Worst
Street Performer in Portugal Contest

The shopping spree continues

When she picks shopping over wine,
I have a problem

Alfama transportation

Alfama artsy door

We needed two things, a drink and . . .

Some people watching

Who is that in that bar?

Laurie and her animated friend

A refurbished Alfama building

Alfama fish art

Now we're talking eclectic!

A hole in the wall dining experience

The meat and cheese plate
here was a good one!

So was the adult beverage.

I guess that the concept of flat screen TVs has not arrived in the Alfama yet.

Maybe next decade.

Mugging yet again

Skipping the Castelo to spend more time walking down the Alfama's hill to the harbor was the best decision we made today. The Alfama is a fun area to be sure with lots of places that cater to tourists but it is definitely not a tourist trap.

Next up, a 20 minute trolley ride West out to Lisbon's Belém district.

This was not the trolley that we needed

Neither was this one

Dom Joáo I
Bastard King of Portugal

We finally caught the needed 15 trolley to Belém under Dom Joáo I's watchful eye.

 The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

This monument to Portugal's Age of Discovery was commissioned in 1501 by Dom Manuel I after Vasco de Gama's historic voyage to India. 

Ornate to say the least

Vasco de Gama's tomb

Vaulted ceiling

 The Cross of Portugal

 Love this ceiling

 The main altar

 Such detail


The Mosteiro alone was worth the trip out to Belém but there was more.

 A nice fountain

Laurie mugging with horses this time

 Another reincarnated VW bus

We were walking a little farther West of the Mosteiro in search of the huge . . .

Monument to the Discoveries

If you recall your World History, you know that Portugal produced many of the great explorers of all time including the likes of Henry the Navigator, Vasco de Gama and Fernão Magellan.

Henry the Navigator
leading the way
Vasco de Gama
sailed around the Cape of Good Hope

The winds could help or hurt these
Portuguese heroes

Ditto for the sea monsters

Of course, Poseidon
could be a pain too

It was an impressive monument to say the least.

This bus full of passengers just blew
by us on land and went for a swim

I wish we could have too.

Harbor lighthouse

There was one more historical sight for us to explore in the Belém area, the . . .

Torre de Belém

Originally this was built as a fortress in the middle of the Tagus river whose mouth leads to the Atlantic Ocean and adventure. Work on the Torre was completed in 1521.

Today, as land has been reclaimed over the years, it sits about 25 meters off shore.

The Torre has several of these

Done with all of the Belém district's historical sights, we had just one more culinary place to visit before calling it a long day.

Since 1837, the Pastéis de Belém
It was nice inside

In yesterday's post, I mentioned how much we liked Lisbon's signature dessert, the pastéil de nata. We even had a delicious one this morning for breakfast.

Everyone told us that the best one's are sold in this shop in the Belém district. They are said to be so much better than their competitors, that they are called Pastéil de Belém, not pastéil de nata.

We had to fight the assembled multitudes to try one to compare and contrast.


I am sorry that we don't have a picture of the Pastéil de Belém, but we devoured them before any pictures were possible.

So, to sum up our two days in Lisbon, we found it to be a wonderful city that we should have visited long ago.

On the way back to our hotel,
I thought of Brian FitzGerald
for some unknown reason

The Circumnavigation continues, NEXT STOP:
A RELAXING beach somewhere north of Lisbon. 
Stay tuned for details.


itzbfitz said...

Bastardo, eh?��
Just wait until you get home! ��

George said...


Olivier R said...

Funny that "Portuguese sounds like russian" quote. Yesterday i was behind the bench of the Serbian junior team and listening to them i was thinking " this sounds like Portuguese"!! Looks like there's definitly something slavic in portuguese!