Day 4 - Lisbon
A busy day—no problem making our 10,000 steps today! After breakfast, we started our day in Baixa (low land district) before wending our way up some narrow, hilly streets to the Alfama district to see the Lisbon Cathedral (Se de Lisbon) where Saint Anthony was baptized.
A historical side note: many people associate Anthony with Italy because he is buried in Padua. However, the Portuguese proudly celebrate the fact that he was born and lived most of his life in Portugal.
Onto Belém, again. This time, we got lovely views of the outside of the church and monastery, then were dropped off at the famous Tower of Belém. A little addition to the obligatory pictures of this famous tower was watching a huge military celebration with the president of Portugal present, and much parading and pomp and circumstance.
Because of the traffic, we then walked over to the " Monument to the Discoveries. Lined up against what looks like the sail of a ship, Henry the Navigator leads a small procession of merchants, writers, navigators, and others who played a major role in the founding and proliferation of Portugal’s colonies around the world. There is one female figure, the mother of Henry, kneeling in homage to her son.
Emma, our wonderful guide had disappeared at this point, only to show up with the delicious part of the morning—some Pasteis de Belém. To add to the other day, they came about when the monks in the monastery had to find uses for the egg yolks left after they had starched their clothing with the whites. When the monastery was shut down in the mid-1800s, this shop, in Belém obtained the recipe and trademarked the name. Everywhere else they are called Pastel de Nata.
Outside of town we arrived at the summer home of royalty, the Palace of Queluz. Looks like a miniature version of Versailles or the Schoenbraun palace outside Vienna. However, the family stories, intermarriages (usually for the sake of dowries, land, etc),and cavorting of the summer royalty kept us entertained during this tour.
Back to the city, our final tour stop was at the Mercado de Riboa, another market with food stalls (including some operated by local celebrity chefs) surrounding the heavily congested tables in the middle. Wendy had grilled octopus (again, almost as good as the other night), Jim had seafood risotto.
We ended our day with an added extra "free time" visit downtown first to the Baixa retracing our steps from Saturday through several plazas. With the help of our guide, we did make a few new discoveries worth noting. The first was Igreja de São Domingos, a church dating back to 1241 whose interior was gutted by a fire in 1959. The church, though still in use today was left largely unrestored. The effect is haunting.
Also, we saw a tragic remembrance of an ugly episode affecting the Jews. An uneasy alliance with Spain required that Jews be expelled from Portugal. Rather than doing so the King forced all Jews to convert to Christianity. When this policy did not succeed, a massacre of Jews took place around Easter of 1506 resulting in the death of nearly 2000 Jews! It is remembered by a simple monument at the site of the event.
We then headed to the hillltop Bairro Alta district with a repeat tram ride to the top, and a walk weaving through the neighborhood side streets of this blue collar neighborhood that is quickly becoming gentrified.
A ride down an elevator located in a beautiful outside bar to store exiting to the street belgow was free, enabling us to avoid paying €6 for the beautiful public transportation elevator next door.
The bus took us back to the hotel where, after a nap, we find some easy dinner at the hotel bar, followed by lovely conversations with our new friends over a glass of wine. Tomorrow, we leave wonderful, friendly Lisboa to head for the inner part of Portugal.