• Exploring Lisbon Portugal!

    March 3, 2018
  • On our first full day of wanting to get to know the beautiful city of Lisbon Portugal, we decided to book a number of bus tours to take us around the city and to get an idea of how big and diverse Lisbon was! We decided to go across the square from the Fenix Lisboa where many of the bus tours start and end! We decided on the Belem Line for our first tour of the day. This would be a half day tour and would give us a great overview of the City of Lisbon. The Belem Line starts off at the Parque Eduardo VII which is named after Edward VII of the United Kingdom who visited Portugal in 1902. The bus then went around a roundabout at the Marquis De Pombal Monument, just in front of the Hotel Fenix. The Marquis was a powerful Prime Minister from 1750-77 and has a major claim to fame in overseeing the rebuilding of Lisbon after the catastrophic earthquake of 1755 which completely flattened the city! A remarkable man indeed!

    The Marquis De Pombal Monument Close Up From our Room at the Hotel Fenix!

    Liberty Avenue , Lisbon, Portugal

    Our bus interestingly enough took us down the Avienda Da Liberdade (Liberty Avenue) which we had walked the night before searching in vain for a nice restaurant. Before long our bus rolled through Praca Dos Restauradores, a square which in fact has lots of restaurants located around it. But the term Restauradores has nothing to do with restaurants. In fact it is a monument to the restorers who fought in the Portuguese Restoration War way back in 1640. The war ended 60 years of rule by the Spaniards. You can tell there is lots of history in Europe, very fascinating! However, we now knew where to go for dinner that evening!

    Night time pics of the Praca Dos Restauradores!

    Our route would take us down to the harbour front on the River Tagus! The naval museum looked very interesting and was dedicated to all aspects of navigation in Portugal, all of which the Portuguese are very proud of! Nearby is the Jeronimos Monastery, a major historical site in Lisbon. It has wings housing the Maritime  Museum and the National Archaeology Museum. Along with the nearby Tower of Belem it is a Unesco World Heritage Site! The monastery was constructed over 100 years and completed in 1601. It was paid for from a tax on commerce from Africa and the Orient. These taxes generated a lot of cash flow from the transportation of pepper, cinnamon and cloves. So Portugal was a very wealthy country back then and they spared no expense in constructing the Jeronimos Monastery. Upon completion they installed the Hieronymite Monks to occupy the Monastery for three centuries!

    Belem Palace, Lisbon! Very Busy spot from the Number of Tour Buses!

    We drove by the Belem Palace, originally residences of the Monarchs. However after the Portuguese killed off the Monarchy in 1911 and then installed the first Republic, then Presidents lived there too! Close by we saw the very impressive monument of The Discoveries which is located right on the waterfront. The monument Padrao Dos Descobrimentos celebrates Portugal’s prominence as a major world power in the 15th and 16th centuries. Ships departed from this spot on the River Tagus to India and the Orient. The current monument was unveiled in 1960!

    Riverfront Momuments 

    We definitely want to go back to this area of the Tagus Riverfront. There are lots of shops and restaurants on the riverfront which we never got to explore! This will be one of the first places we will visit on our return. The bus looped around the Adjuda Palace, the historical home of the monarchs. There are lots of churches in Europe, but the Estrela Basilica is very nice. In English it is called the Royal Basilica and Convent of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It dates back to 1779 when construction finished in 1790. Do you know that there are 1761 churches in the world that bear the title of Basilica? One of them John the Baptist is located in our hometown of St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador!

    The Estrela Basilica and Square!

    The bus finished its loop down around the riverfront, and headed back to Edward VII Park across from our hotel. We had made a good choice picking the Hotel Fenix. We grabbed a sandwich back at the hotel, and then went back to pick up the Castle Line bus. For the rest of the afternoon we were on a small bus which enabled us to drive through the narrow streets of Downtown Lisbon and see the houses in the local neighbourhoods of Alfama and Castelo.

    Downtown Lisbon just up from the Waterfront!

    Alfama is Lisbon‘s oldest neighbourhood. The Meseu Do Fado is located there and dedicated to Portuguese Folk traditions. Definitely worth a more detailed visit for sure! Aflama is a poor neighbourhood and was untouched by the 1755 earthquake. There are lots of very narrow streets and small squares. Aflama has a Moorish Castle, Sao Jorge Castle on a hilltop! The fortification on the hilltop dates back to the 2nd century BC! Now that is history!!

    Narrow Streets of Alfama all Uphill!

    The Romans hung out there back in 48BC! The castle has seen it all, from Moors in 1147 to becoming the capitol of the Portuguese Kingdom in 1255, and in 1498 welcoming Vasco Da Gama back from discovering the Maritime route to India. Up in Alfama there are some terraces (miradouros) from which to see the city, one of which is Miradour Das Portas Do Sol (Gates of the Sun). There are many cafes, bars and restaurants sprinkled around the Miradouros. Great places to spend a hour or two enjoying the spectacular views, sights and sounds of Downtown Lisbon. When our little bus stopped in these areas there were very, very long lines of people wanting to get on the bus. So we passed on getting off for another time. If we got off, there was no telling when we might get on another bus and since the buses end at 7 pm and it was now 4 pm we were concerned that we might not get back to the hotel at a reasonable hour, especially after a long day!

    Terraces of Alfama, Downtown Lisbon

    If you visit Lisbon though, you should consider getting the Tuk Tuk. These are motorized quads with makeshift seating for two or four people in the back. They can scoot into very small areas and take you all over the city even stopping for pee breaks and beer and wine breaks and all are reasonably priced. We will take the Tuk Tuk next time we are in Lisbon to see more of the Downtown area at our leisure! They are quite reasonably priced as well for the tour!

    Tuk Tuks in the Narrow Streets of Downtown Lisbon!

    Our tour bus took us again around the Tagus Waterfront reinforcing our desire to check out this area further on another visit. Then it was back to Parque Edward VII and our hotel. We arrived around 6 pm and it was time to put our feet up and enjoy the outdoor balcony with a Gin and Tonic and plan our activities for that evening!

    Views from Alfama Lisbon!

    The jets were taking off from Lisbon Airport and soaring right over our balcony. Hubby was in his glee watching the planes and frantically snapping pictures to see if he could get a good snap of one close up! Planes really bring out the boy in him or maybe the wannabe high flyer! Who knows! But he sure gets a kick out of the planes. We have a two year old Grandson who is passionate about planes just like his Poppy!

    River Tagus Waterfront View!

    It was a really nice evening on the patio around 25C at 7 pm. We had made up our minds to check out the Praca Dos Restauradores again! We were too tired to walk the 45 minutes so we got a cab that dropped us off in the square for 5 Euros! There were many restaurants in the square and quite frankly it was hard to pick just one! After a few walks around we decided on Da Vinci Ristorante & Pizzeria. We got a lovely table outside on the side walk and were content to be entertained by the passers-by walking up and down the cobbled stone street!

    Dinner at Da Vinci Ristorante and Pizzeria Lisbon!

    We ordered an Antipasto which was outstanding with different Italian meats, cheeses, olives, so fresh tomatoes and red onions! It was truly outstanding! The Carbonara was great as well and Hubby had the pizza which he thoroughly enjoyed. But it was just too much food for two people with the Antipasto. The House Wine was very cheap at 2 Euros a Glass, so we had a few. Dinner cost 40 Euros in total!

    Outside the Golden Globes Lisbon Portugal!

    Since we were sitting on the sidewalk we had to notice lots of pretty women in very elegant evening gowns and handsome men in tuxedos walking right by us down the side street we were sitting on! We asked the waiter what was going on and he told us in broken English that “The Ouros” were heading towards a theatre at the end of the road for the 2017 Golden Globe Awards Portugal! Well how exciting we thought that we were here for this!

    Beautiful People on the Red Carpet at the Golden Globes Portugal 2017!

    Our curiosity prevailed and on settling the bill we followed these beautiful people down the street and onto the side street where all the action was taking place! It was very interesting to observe the Red Carpet and all of the Portuguese celebrities, all of whom looked very elegant, but none of whom we recognized. We took a few pictures of all the beautiful people who really made a splash when they walked onto that red carpet!

    A Great time Had By All at the Golden Globe Awards Portugal 2017!

    What an evening, great food and wine and now hanging out with Portuguese movie stars!! We got another cab back to the hotel and we were pretty tired after a full day of sightseeing and adventuring into the heart of Lisbon. We had to be up very early the next morning to catch our tour bus to Sintra and The End of The World!

    Another fun Day Tomorrow Exploring Portugal!

     

    MK