Spain-Portugal 2018

10 – Belem and Aflama

Mon and I were up before the sun and needed coffee. We found it right across the corner… small but very strong like espresso. Then into a nearby grocery store to stock up the apartment refrigerator and returned for a nice breakfast with Maneau and Jake .

And off we went. We purchased our city transport passes (6€ gets you on any tram, bus or subway for 24 hours) and headed for the Belem district of the city (west and down river just a kilometer) where we planned to visit the huge Jeronimos Monestary. However, we learned on arriving that it is closed on Mondays. That means we’ll be back tomorrow. Carrying on, we saw the beautiful Monument to the Discoverers. Henry the Navigator started a navigation school here in the early 1400s and sent several captains across the seas to claim new lands for Portugal. The successful ones are portrayed in the monument. They symbolize the wealth that Portugal acquired in just a few decades making it a world superpower in the day.

Next we saw Belem Tower, a military fortress built to guard the mouth of the Tagus river and thus protect Lisbon from invasion by water. Again, closed on Mondays. ☹

So, back onto Tram #15 and headed to the Alfama district or the old downtown of Lisbon. Lucky this time, we visited Placa Commercio, a huge open plaza where ships would have unloaded imports in medieval times. It is marked by the statue of King Jose I and the Arco de Rua Augusta. We had lunch there at the Museum of Cervezas; cod cakes stuffed with cheese, fish soup, and shrimp salad. Yum!

Recharged, we climbed the streets, up up and up until we came to the Cathedral of Lisbon, known as the Sé. Wow is not quite right. It is remarkable and over 800 years old, full of treasures like the huge cork nativity scene. The stained glass is gorgeous. My special moment was climbing to the museum level (5 stories) where I walked right up to and touched the west rose window. I thought I was going to pass out!

Next we continued to climb higher and higher (Lisbon is so steep) and finally made to St. George Castle. There has been a fortification on this hill since before Christ. The current structure is a result of many renovations and expansions over the centuries. It is a fascinating site to tour with unparalleled views across Lisbon and the Tagus River. Surprise, they sell Port wine and complimentary plastic wine glasses. We really enjoyed ourselves in the shade of ancient olive trees.

Then back to the apartment to cool off and rest before dinner… a short walk to the river front at 5 Oceans restaurant for a beautiful fish dinner: Trio appetizers (mackerel, sardines and cod tongues), monkfish, giant shrimp and cockfish. Full and happy, we strolled home for a port nitecap. Sleep.

Here are the photo highlights of Day 10 – Belem and Alfama


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