We had a big day and a LOT of walking for all of our poor little legs. (even Kegan.. so you know it was rough. ha) Our hotel is a couple miles from the downtown section we wanted to start out in, so we grabbed an Uber to a famous lookout point over Lisbon where we could see everything we would be seeing today. At the far upper left you can see the Castle of St Jorge.. which is where we headed from here.
At the castle, there was another great vantage point to view the city.
There were quite a few peacocks on the grounds. Very pretty, but very loud!
Norah wanted to climb to the top of one of the lookout points.
If you look closely… you’ll see a very happy child. ha
So many old buildings along all of the streets are covered in old tiles and azulejo tile pictures.
Even the new buildings get a tile exterior it seems. This teal one with black metal accents was my favorite.
Portugal is famous for its vintage yellow tram cars that take you around the city. In all honesty, I should have researched riding the tram more, but we just took pictures. No rides.
We walked along to the Lisbon Cathedral.
The inside was impressive. It was built more like a fortress than a church… and it turns out, there may be a reason. It was built by Christian crusaders in the 1100s when they defeated the Arabs in this area. So, the knocked down a very important Mosque and began construction of this church. Christians looked a lot different back in the crusades. The army wasn’t much more than a bunch of drunks and thieves… who “liberated” the city from the Arabs… and then promptly pilfered it themselves. But… as warriors of a sort, turns out they knew how to construct a building. It has survived multiple earthquakes and has been standing for 900 years. So here’s to Jesus’s bandits and thieves!
Our next stop was to the Conserveira de Lisboa, a family run tinned fish shop that has been open and selling canned fish like sardines and mackerel for over 80 years. They are one of the few shops left and their goal is maintain the tradition of how the majority of the people of Lisbon ate their fish for many many years. I read an article on a UK website about it and just loved the idea and wanted to patronize the business while in town. Plus, I love sardines, smoked oysters, mackerel, tuna… basically anything that comes in a can with oil is my jam… so I am excited to see what these traditional and special Portuguese fish taste like.
I had to keep it under control though… and only purchased 4 items: 2 types of mackerel, a tuna mousse and sardines in a tomato sauce.
Poor Kegan had to be superman and carry Norah to our next destination. She couldn’t hack it anymore.
We passed through the Arc de Rua Augusta, an arch that was constructed to celebrate the rebuilding of the city after a massive Earthquake in 1755
After climbing some steep hills back up away from the coast, we had a view of the rear of the Santa Luzia lift- a famous elevator for helping to navigate the steep climbs. You can ride it up from the bottom and avoid quite a bit of huffing and puffing. But we didn’t ha
We got a glimpse of the Carmo Convent.. but I was too tired to even want to pay to go in, sadly. They had construction barricades up everywhere and I get that they need to rehab things that are old… but maybe don’t charge people in the interim when they cant even see half of it? I have a ethical issue with charging for churches anyway… so that’s likely just a personality flaw of mine… haha but we didn’t go in.
We walked down some steps along some businesses to Rossio Square. There is a monument to Pedro IV, the “soldier king”. He conquered Brazil and was the first king there. He seemed to be well liked and just. I like him because he was crowned king of Portugal during his time in Brazil, but he abdicated his throne in favor of his firstborn child- a GIRL. He sent her back to Portugal to rule (at 7 years old- I would have to assume under direct supervision) and when she was overthrown by a King Miguel… Pedro IV abdicated the Brazilian throne to his son, set off to Portugal and went to war to win it back for her. The war lasted years and in the end, he died days after the last battle, but saw his 16 year old daughter be coronated at Queen Maria II. That’s a feel good story in my book!
You can see the gorgeous Portuguese mosaic tile floors. A lot of the sidewalks were made like this, too. Such an art form.
Something local here around the square are these old Ginjinha houses. Basically little walk-up tasting bars where you can order a shot of sour cherry liqueur. We decided this Ginja needed to be tasted. So we tested three.
The third was our favorite. Maybe because we were already two shots deep… but this is where we decided to buy a bottle to bring home. It’s sort of like a cherry brandy/port wine taste. Very strong alcohol. but very good.
Our next stop was Time Out Market. A foodie paradise. The inside of the building is just lined with small stalls of all the best Lisbon has to offer! Famous chefs have stalls here, all the famous Portuguese pastries- here. I had previously researched what we could not miss and we started down the list.
Asian Beef Tartar and Tuna Tartar from Tartar-la
Pork Belly Confit from chef Alexandre Silva
Sardine and Cod Nigiri from Sea Me
Traditional portuguese croquettes from Oh My Cod
Duck croquette with orange glaze
and some sweet potato chips for Norah.
With happy bellies, it was time to Uber down to Belem to see a few last sites for the day. The first was the Jeronimos Monastery. They were closing up the ticket lines for the monastery, but we were able to pop into the cathedral.
This is the burial place of Vasco da Gama, the first navigator to find a sea route to India. In the late 1400s, getting to India via the Mediterranean and the Arabian peninsula was dangerous business. So much so that most of Europe didn’t even try. The fact that he was able to identify a way for Portugal to get pepper and cinnamon, among other new spices…. gave portugal great wealth for decades before other European countries found their own route to India via the sea.
I can’t ever leave well enough alone with those rose-colored glasses, now can I? There is a very interesting history associated with Da Gama…. he is remembered a heroic figure, but that first voyage had 3 ships and returned with 2, half manned because over half his crew died and the rest mostly had scurvy. His brother died, one ship crashed…and he made enemies with the leader in India..when the Zamorin (his title) wouldn’t agree to a trade treaty and told Da Gama he needed to pay tax like every other trader, he got mad and stole a bunch of citizens of India by force and took them with him back home. I’m sure they died along the way… but can you imagine having the mindset that to piss off a king, you’d just steal some average people and fisherman you saw along your way back to your boat and just tote them home back to Portugal? Can you imagine BEING one of those stolen people? It’s an incredible thought that these things happened. Da Gama kind of sounds like an arrogant jerk.. he caused the King to fight with the church because Da Gama wanted land the church didn’t want to give up.. and basically pushed the king to defend his claim because of how valuable he was to the country. He wanted to be crowned Admiral of the Seas for Portugal because Spain gave Christopher Columbus that title. ha Oh..men and their egos. Anyway, I couldn’t resist ruining a good historical figure’s reputation. You’re welcome.
Just down the street is the famous Pasteis de Belem, the most famous egg custard tart around. Usually there is a line around the block, but we hit right at the end of the day so only a few people in front of us.
A short walk away was the Padrão Dos Descobrimentos, a monument in honor of Portugal’s explorer past with stone carvings of various people associated with exploration in that age. Vasco Da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan -the first person to circumnavigate the globe- and others including kings who supported the exploration, priests who served as missionaries, etc
I thought it was a very well done monument and I love it facing West out over the water.
Our last attraction was the famous Tower of Belem. Built in the early 1500s as a way to protect the mouth of the Tagus river from invaders, it still stands today. We made it right about sunset time, which made for some great photos.
After that, it was an Uber back to the hotel and room service because we couldn’t motivate ourselves to shower, change clothes and taxi out again for dinner. So showers, a burger, club sandwich, and caesar salad had to do. 🙂 Tomorrow is Sintra, the old royal stomping grounds not too far away from Lisbon with some majorly cool palaces and views. and hills. always more hills. ha