Sunday, January 19, 2014

Friday, November 29, 2013 – Lisbon, Portugal – Mostly Cloudy – 63F

Local Information.  Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is the Westernmost European Capital.  The city proper has a population of approximately 550,000 with about 3 million people living in the greater Lisbon metropolitan area.


Our first time in Lisbon, Portugal and it is a beautiful day…

20131129_Equinox docked Lisbon (Small)

Equinox docked in Lisbon

We are both on the same tour today:  “Lisbon, Cascais, and Sintra plus Lunch”.  My tour guide is Rita and she is excellent (good English and very informative).  Some of the people I toured with previously are on this tour as well. 

The bus made its way from the port through the city on its way to the countryside.  We passed the Alfama District.  Alfama displays some of the characteristics of its Moorish past – the name “Alfama” is derived from the Arabic “Al-hamma” (baths).  Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon and the home of Fado Music (sad, soulful, melancholy music – perfect for easy listening).

20131129_Alfama district (Small)

Alfama District

Proceeding out of Lisbon proper, we passed through the hip neighborhood of Alcântara, home of pubs, bars, and nightlife.

20131129_aqueduct 34  long (Small)

Alcântara and the Aqueduct

The bus wound its way along the Tagus River (Rio Tejo), which like the Rio de la Plata in Buenos Aires, looks like both a river and a lake.  The river eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean.  The route takes us along the Estoril Coast and through the Parrish of Estoril – long known as the playground of the posh of Portugal and the rest of Europe.  The Grand Casino of Estoril is testament to its place in high society.  

Our first stop is the town of Cascais.  Cascais (“Cash-case”) – located on the Estoril Coast about 19 miles west of Lisbon has a population of 35,000.  It is one of the richest municipalities in Portugal. The bus dropped us off near the water and we are given some free time in Cascais to shop and/or grab some coffee.  We were able to hijack some WiFi from a nearby hotel so we did check our e-mails.

In the photo below, you can see Lisbon in the distance (note the 25th April Bridge).

20131129_looking back toward lisbon (Small)

Fountain in the waters off Cascais

20131129_Cascais beachfront (Small)

The Cascais Beach and Atlantic Ocean

20131129_Cascais main street (Small)

Main Street Cascais

20131129_Cascais (Small)

Beachfront Hotel

One thing we did not expect to find in Cascais was a Hanukkiah but right there near the beachfront we did.  We could not tell who put it there but it was still nice to see considering the Iberian Peninsula’s record with respect to Jews.

20131129_Menorah in Cascais (Small)

The Hanukkiah of Cascais and Us

Facilities were difficult to come by and we were advised to buy something at a restaurant to use theirs.  I did find a pub that didn’t require any purchase.

20131129_free washroom in Cascais (Small)

Facilities in Cascais

20131129_E in Cascais (Small)

Cascais Beach

After about 40 minutes, the bus left Cascais and drove along the Atlantic Coast. 

20131129_043146 (Small)

20131129_045633 (Small)

Top:  Villa on the Atlantic; Bottom: Looking back toward Cascais

Our destination was the Cabo Roca Lighthouse.  Cabo Roca is the Westernmost point on the European Continent.  A monument designates the spot.  There is also the lighthouse and a gift shop (selling “Westernmost” stuff).  Note:  The gift shop had very nice facilities.

20131129_Cabo Roca westernmost europe (Small)

Cabo Roca Monument

20131129_cape roca (Small)

Cabo Roca Lighthouse

Leaving the view point, the bus headed inland to the quaint little town on Sintra.  Sintra (population 33,000) is almost a suburb of Lisbon.  It is home to three palaces/fortress but we only visited one of these, the Palácio Nacional de Sintra.  This unusual structure – due to its conical smokestacks - was once the summer home of the Royal Families of Portugal.

We didn’t tour the Palace – just pictures and some free time.

20131129_Sintra Palace (Small)

Palácio Nacional de Sintra

Ellen and I met up and took a small walking tour of the town.  The town in on a hill and the streets are very narrow – I don’t see how they can accommodate anything bigger than a motor scooter. 

20131129_E in Sintra (Small)

Ellen in Sintra

Rita, our guide, told us to try the local pastry - Queijadas De Sintra (Portuguese Cheese Tarts With Cinnamon).  A lot of the passengers were taking her advice because the nearest bakery from the bus drop was full of folks from our tour.  We decided to walk a little further to a more remote bakery to try the pastry.  We did and my take was that it was an acquired taste – the combination of cheese and cinnamon just didn’t go together (upside: the bakery had facilities).  When we got back to the bus, folks told me that the other local treat – a kind of cream puff – was better.  One passenger even shared her cream puff with me and it was better. 

Everyone made it back to the bus and I was able to get one last picture of Sintra.

20131129_063333 (Small)

An Estate in Sintra

Lunch was next on the agenda and the restaurant was just outside of Sintra.  On the way, the Moorish Castle was visible on the top of a nearby hill but the moving bus prevented any pictures.

Our restaurant was called Curral dos Caprinos – (“Corral of Goats”) and you can see by the picture below, it was all about the goats (my fingers is pointing out the animals).

20131129_Lunch in Sintra (Small)20131129_Lunch in Sintra 1 (Small)

Curral dos Caprinos

I had spoken with Rita about veggie options and she had asked me if seitan would be acceptable (yes).  Lunch consisted of salad, bread, French Fries, and a loaf made from seitan.  The food was good although I had trouble defining what the faux meat tasted like.  It was very nice of the restaurant to accommodate us by whipping up this item on relatively short notice.  There was also wine and a nice dessert.  Lunch was a very pleasant experience.

Our next stop was back in Lisbon (only minutes away) in the Belem area (near the Tagus River):  The Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (the Monastery of St. Jerome).  The monastery is constructed of limestone and was built in 1502 by King Manuel I.  The building has a unique architecture called manueline (after King Manuel) and consists of fresco figures depicting a story. The Monastery was built to showcase Vasco De Gama’s voyage to India in 1498.  The tomb of Manuel I and De Gama are in the Monastery, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

20131129_Monastery of St Jerome (Small)

The Monastery from the Bus Drop

The front of the monastery extends for several hundred feet as can be seen in the photo below.

20131129_ St Jerome Monastery 4 (Small)

20131129_ St Jerome Monastery 2 (Small)

20131129_Manueline Architecture St Jerome Monaster (Small)

The Manueline Architecture of the Monastery

The entrance of the Monastery was populated by a number of well dressed (leather and boots) peddlers – all women - selling shawls and pashminas.  They were the best dressed peddlers we have seen in our travels.

20131129_ St Jerome Monastery 1 (Small)

The Monastery Interior

Before the Monastery was built, a small Hermitage ordered by Henry the Navigator occupied this site.  It was from this Hermitage that Vasco da Gama began his historic voyage to India in 1497.  Da Gama died in India (he was Viceroy at the time) in 1524.  After his remains were moved a number of times (just like fellow explorer, Cristobal C), in 1880, they were placed in their final resting place, the Monastery.  The Tomb of Vasco Da Gama is manueline like the rest of the Monastery.  There are scenes on the tomb depicting voyages and the lions that support the tomb are symbols of the Order of Jerome.

20131129_Vasca deGama crypt (Small)

The Tomb of Vasco da Gama

20131129_Monastery DeGama Crypt (Small)

The Tomb, Random People, and Me

Following the visit to the Monastery, we drove to the Jardim da Torre de Belem (Belem Tower Park), where we were given free time to explore the park and the gift shop. 

The Belem Tower was my first stop.  The five story tower is the most photographed structure in Lisbon.  It was built from 1515-1521 as protection from pirates. It was subsequently repurposed as a prison.  There was a lot of construction going on at the base of the tower making photography difficult.

20131129_Belem Tower (Small)20131129_095318-1 (Small)

Belem Tower

The 25th April Bridge pans the Tagus River (Rio Tejo) and was built in the 1960s by the American Bridge Company, the folks that built the San Francisco Bay Bridge (don’t let the color fool you into thinking it’s a copy of the Golden Gate Bridge) .  It is the longest bridge in Europe (longer than the Golden Gate).  The statue on the far side is the statue of Christ the King (monument to the neutrality of Portugal in WWII).

20131129_095025 (Small)20131129_101455 (Small)20131129_101445-1 (Small)

25th April Bridge

Gago Coutinho Monument – An Aluminum model of a Fairey IIID Seaplane used by Portuguese Aviators (Gago Coutinho and Sacadura  Cabral ) to make the first South Atlantic Crossing (between Lisbon and Rio De Janeiro) in 1922 (commemorating the centennial of Brazil’s Independence).  It took three planes to complete the journey (mechanical and weather problems)

20131129_WW1 plane monument river park (Small)

20131129_plane monument (Small)

The Monument to the Discoveries – located in the Belem Marina - was built in 1940 as a temporary structure for the World Exposition.  The Monument in Belem was built in 1960 (the 500 anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator) and is an exact replica of that statue.  The sculpture – 171 ft tall) is in the shape of a Caravel prow – showing historic figures related to Portugal’s age of discovery (Prince Henry the Navigator is on the prow).   The only view of the statue was from the moving bus.

20131129_Monument of Discovery (Small)

Monument to the Discoveries

The bus then headed back to the pier.  A few sites were visible from the bus.

Lots of museums in Lisbon including the Museum of Beer.

20131129_museum of beer lisbon (Small)

20131129_Monument Spain Portugal War (Small)

Monument – Spain-Portugal War


20131129_main square downtown lisbon (Small)

Praça do Comércio – Commercial Square – Statue of King Jose I (1775)

The pier is a short ride from the Belem Marina area and the traffic is relatively light so in a few minutes we are back on board.  Since the Sun has not set, there are many photo ops.

20131129_E and Lisbon from ship (Small)

Ellen and Lisbon

20131129_Lisbon from ship (Small)

Lisbon in the Gloaming

20131129_112852 (Small)

25th April Bridge connecting Lisbon to Almada

20131129_E Tegas River (Small)

Ellen on the back deck

20131129_Lisbon Sailaway 1 (Small)

The 25th April Bridge at night

20131129_Monastery Sailaway (Small)

Lisbon, Portugal at night

After dinner in the Dining Room, we saw Greg Scott- World’s tallest violinist (6-4) doing his show in the Theater.  We had seen Greg before and his show was entertaining the second time around. 

Tomorrow, we leave Continental Europe.

No comments:

Post a Comment