Thursday, August 13, 2015

Iberian Adventures: Lisbon

Monday, July 6
We arrived in Lisbon before sunset, and found our Airbnb in the Graça neighborhood, but there were no parking spots. The apartment greeter had us wait while she looked for a spot, and I became cranky that she did not let us in the apartment to wait. Finally, the parking was sorted and she showed us the place. It had a great view of what looked like the Golden Gate Bridge. Apparently it is called the Ponte 25 de Abril. [Tip: Do not bring a car to Lisbon]

View from the balcony

Then the greeter explained sights in Lisbon on a blurry map. She meant well, but we were very tired and hungry, and finally asked her to stop. She seemed disappointed. We had dinner at O Pitéu, which was hopping with people. More roast meat and fish. And potato chips. Then it was bedtime!

Tuesday, July 7
My lovely brother picked up coffee and pastries for breakfast, while I admired the view from the balcony. We tried another pastel de nata, better than in Porto. 

Golden Gate Bridge!

Castelo de São Jorge

Then we set off to explore. We checked out the wares at the Feira da Ladra (flea market), peeked in a couple of churches, watched a ceramics artist at work, and admired the views of Lisbon.

Feira da Ladra

Ceramic shop


Then it was time for lunch! My lovely brother treated us to an epic pre-birthday lunch at Belcanto. Amazing. I don't even remember how many courses we ate (a lot). One of the highlights was a golden egg. And of course dessert and petit fours.


Lunch at Belcanto

After lunch we wandered around and did some shopping. I had a list of Lisbon's 10 most beautiful shops, and we visited A Vida Portuguesa, Tous, and Luvaria Ulisses. Then it was time for gelato.
Doors in Lisbon


Checking out the glove shop


Gelato at Santini

I wanted to reach a skybridge that we could see from the street, which led us to the line for the Santa Just elevator. We saw several plazas from the viewpoint, so we explored those after descending, and saw a cool Art Deco building.

Elevator in Lisbon



Wavy tiles

Art deco

We walked through a busy restaurant area that was very unappealing. Then we took a cab up the hill to the apartment, which was next to a popular viewpoint (hence the lack of parking the previous day). Lots of people were there to see the sunset. Dan picked up some groceries and made us salads for dinner. It had been another busy day!



Wednesday, July 8
I wanted to visit Sintra and Cascais (hence the rental car), but we got a late start to the day. Dan made scrambled eggs with jamon iberico for breakfast, yum! We decided to go to Belém, and Dan drove along the crazy winding narrow hilly streets of Lisbon. [I do not recommend it.] Our first stop was Pastéis de Belém, where we stood in line for pastel de nata. Definitely the best so far...warm from the oven, flaky crust, soft custard...mmm. Then I went next door to Starbucks for coffee. My iced drink had coffee jellies in it. Delicious. They should put coffee jellies on the menu in the US.

Pastéis de Belém

Coffee jelly at Starbucks

Then we walked to Jerónimos Monastery. The interior of the church was impressive, and I enjoyed the cloisters.

Jerónimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery

Dan checking out the confession doors



We walked toward the water to the Monument to the Discoveries, where I saw a very cute green frozen yogurt vendor. I was quite taken with it and took many photos, then ordered a frozen yogurt. It was okay. We also saw a large group of school children, or maybe summer camp, with their adult wranglers.

Monument to the Discoveries


We walked along the water to the Torre de Belém. The school children were also going in that direction. There were fishermen along the way, and the Ponte 25 de Abril was still a surreal sight, since it looks so much like the Golden Gate Bridge.

Torre de Belém

View of the Golden Gate Bridge

There was a business enterprise at the park that seemed to involve renting out picnic blankets with a view of the Torre. We did not inquire about rates or if food was included. But Tina and I did get orange juice from an orange-shaped vendor. And Johnny and I hugged an ice cream cone.

Rent a picnic spot with a view!


Ice cream

We had a late lunch at Pão Pão Queijo Queijo, which I enjoyed very much. Shawerma baguette for Dan and roasted eggplant for me, all made to order. Yum. My brother tried the falafel, which was different from home, and also tasty. Next stop: National Coach Museum, but it was in the midst of moving into a new building, so there were just a few coaches in the old building. Also we arrived shortly before closing time, so the gentleman didn't charge the full price. Dan and I admired the painted ceilings. I wonder what will happen to the building after all the coaches are moved? I think it used to be a riding school, if I remember correctly. But maybe not.
National Coach Museum

Dan checking out the ceiling

We decided to take the ferry to Porto Brandão, which was a very quiet town. I enjoyed the ferry ride. While we were waiting for the ferry back to Belém, I peeked into one of the warehouses along the dock, and saw a gentleman working on a wooden surfboard. He explained that they were in the style of ancient Hawaiian surfboards, and also showed us wooden handplanes used for bodysurfing. Very cool to see hand craftsmanship in action. The ferry back was filled with young people who had spent the day at the beach. [I guess we should have gotten off at the next stop.]

View from the ferry

Porto Brandão

Dan and I got another pastel de nata before we drove back to the apartment. I enjoyed sunset on the balcony, and we went out for one last seafood dinner. Then it was time to pack. The next morning we dropped off the rental car and flew to Newark, where I saw a beagle at baggage claim! We took a long cab ride to my brother's apartment, and I ate my way through New York before returning home. Vacation always ends too soon!

Sunset on the balcony

Lisbon Sunset

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