Friday, November 4, 2016

November 4: Lisbon Portugal --Gleeful in a Beetle

Paul and our tour guide, Ricardo, outside the beetle in question. Belem tower in the background

Since we have only one full day left in Lisbon and haven't done much exploring, we decided to take the city by storm...or convertible vintage Volkswagen.

We started at the little breakfast bakery just outside our hotel, Mesa da Pao with light fare and then did a little shopping. 

Do you know the muffin man?

Theoretically there was a vintage vinyl shop in the hood, but it had changed names and formats. Paul looks at techno
We found a nice place called A Vida Portuguesa that specializes in nothing, but has many nice Portuguese items from port to olive oil to fabrics, books and tiles. We bought a few gifts for our friends there. We had a brief rainshower, but I have to say the weather has been very good to us overall. It's been overcast and a bit cool today, but hey! It's November. This is more what we expected. And after 5 fairly hot days on the Camino, we are fine with this change of pace.

Our tour was scheduled for 2pm, so we grabbed a small lunch at Cafe Vertigo. We can recommend them. It was fast and tasty and cheap...and we didn't have to go to McDonalds or Burger King..NOT that both aren't right here in Chiado. And so is Starbucks. And Hard Rock Cafe. No Cracker Barrel though :)

Cafe Vertigo had a lovely glass ceiling and many vintage photos on the wall

Yummy toasted bread with veggies and cheese .

Our driver, Ricardo, picked us up right on time and off we went on the "Four Corners of Lisbon by Beetle" tour. We weren't sure whether to put the roof up or down due to rain in the forecast, but decided to live dangerously. The weather gods cooperated.

The first stop was the Jeronimo Monastery. We had walked past this gigantic structure built across three century starting 1500s, but had not gone inside. Today we visited the cathedral.

Monasterio Jeronimo. Contains a cathedral and an archeological museum

Grave of Luis Vaz de Camoes. He was the ships secretary to Vasco de Gama. THe guide told us schoolchildren are required to read his logs.

More about Luis


Cathedral ceiling. Impressive stonework throughout, especially considering this was 1500.

The altar

A glance back at the entrance

J, M and J. Incredible brocade fabric in the costumes

The elephants aren't 100% accurate, but reflect da Gama's travel to India

Tomb of Vasco da Gama

From here, Ricardo insisted that we absolutely must try the original Belem pastry from the original shop opened in 1847. The claim is that it's the monk's recipe. The shop makes 25,000 pastries per day and PROFITS per day 50,000 euros. A day. Profit....That's a baked success!

This is the only original shop. Here are about 100 custard Belems. Only 24, 900 to go!

Ricardo takes a bite.

The pastry was very tasty and had a nice crunch. I had tried it before outside of Lisbon, but Ricardo pronounced those as "fakes."

We drove past the 25 April bridge. This bridge is a nearly exact replica of the Golden Gate Bridge...only they got the Bay Bridge Company to build it. Seriously

Golden gate replica, anyone?

There are numerous ways in which either Lisbon tries to San Fran or the other way around---the bridge, the proximity to water, the scary steep streets, the presence of many immigrants. It's hard not to make the comparison.

From this point, we did a lot riding about with scattered explanations and only a few stops, but we got a decent overview

The view from the top of Rua Libertade all the way to the ocean. There's a huge park that runs through to the square of Marquis de Pombal, city saviour after the 1755 earthquake. There's also a gigantic greenhouse in this park,

The Marquis oversees his restructured Lisboa

Here's a Lisbon special. Instead of squeegeeing your windshield, dudes juggle at the traffic signals for $

Our next stop was at the top of the town for a look out over the four corners of Lisbon and all the many colors and variations of buildings and terrain.

Looking out to the River Tejo and the Golden Gate 25 April bridge

A look back into the hills and the colors of Lisbon. Not quite Cinque Terre, but still lovely 

You can sit above it all and still keep your head down into your cell phone :)

Steep streets. Lotsa graffiti here but much of it is very artful

The small chapel on the hill.

Here are various street scenes I photographed from the backseat of the beetle to give you a feel for life in Lisboa.

Young love in Lisboa

Not quite as young love in Lisboa

So much yarn , so little time

So much port, so little time

So many costumes, so little Halloween

Young woman in window

Old woman in window

Middle aged man in window. Paul was disappointed there was no doggie in the window.

At the end of our Volkswagon vagabonding, Ricardo dropped us off at the Elevador Gloria. There are various funiculars in the city and this one is closest to our hotel. As funiculars go, it's not horribly dramatic, but we had fun in the funicular anyway.

Elevador Gloria

Inside the funicular....most of the time it was packed like a Portuguese sardine can!

A look down the street.
We then went back to the Pessoa Guesthouse for the dreaded packing for departure. We finished off our last night in Portugal at Restaurnat Tagide in our neighborhood.

Dining at Restaurant Tagide

Our view from Restaurant Tagide

Portuguese cheese selection

Paul's entree.Gnocchi

Lamb for me


Wine bottle lamp

Statue of Pessoa near our hotel.

Paul's Ponderings:  Our last full day here, but we'll be back, since we have so much more hiking to do!   The weather turned a bit more chilly today and it rained a bit, but compared to the heat of the last week, it was pretty welcome.   One thing I'd observe about Portugal is how nice everyone we've encountered along the way has been....and I mean everyone from the taxi folks to the old guys at the bar playing dominoes.    It's a very welcoming place.  

Tomorrow it's on to London for a few days and some totally different activities before returning home.

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