We left for the airport Friday afternoon and arrived in Portugal around 7. From the airport in Lisbon we got on the metro line towards the Restauradores neighborhood. I already noticed so many differences between Portuguese and Spanish – like red being vermelha instead of rojo. It’s a quick realization that knowing Spanish (even with my very limited vocabulary) won’t get you as far as your think in Portugal – I’m ignorant for thinking it would. We checked into our accommodation which was just up a hill. The reception left the key in a case on the desk since we arrived after hours. I felt like a spy when I received the email because it’s instructions were:
We have an alphanumeric code you can dial using the number pad, so you can open the reception door automatically. Then you will be able to get inside the building. The room keys are going to be on top of the front desk, inside of a black briefcase. Look for the envelope with your name on it. You just have to get your keys and take the elevator to your room.
Now if you’re asking me… that’s pretty spy-esque. Our room was gorgeous – a king bed, a rain shower and a little terrace outside.
We then went out for a quick dinner and unfortunately most of the restaurants us were touristy. After dinner we called it a night.
Saturday morning, after waking up in our king bed, we made our way towards the city centre. We had a small breakfast of a ham and cheese croissant and then walked towards the sea ending at the Praça do Comércio. The square is surrounded by bright yellow buildings filled with cafes and restaurants.
After hanging around the square we made our way towards one of the many art museums in Lisbon walking MUCH further than either of us had expected.
The museum is called the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art). We saw a significant number of painting relating to Jesus and Christianity which is always interesting but fairly repetitive. The museum has a beautiful garden so after exploring the museum I got a lemonade and sat outside enjoying the sun on my face.
The next stop on our list was the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. We didn’t know the best way to get all the way there since it was 5 kilometers away. We reached an intersection and saw a sign pointing to the Basílica da Estrela. The architecture of the building is incredible.
We walked across the street into the garden. The plants made you feel like you were in tropical paradise and we stopped for a juice in the park. We decided that the monastery was too far to walk so we tried to take one of the electric trams. The tram took us a total of 1 kilometer up the road before we reached the end of the line. It ended at a cemetery which was completely above ground. I hailed a taxi and we took that to the monastery. I didn’t realize how spread out the city was which made walking everywhere difficult.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is insane. The detail of the building is so incredible and I’m shocked that anyone, at any time period, could construct that. It took 100 years to complete and there is no question why. Hieronymite monks occupied this monastery for over 200 years praying for the King’s eternal soul and providing spiritual assistance to navigators and sailors. It was deemed a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.
We ate salad and pizza on the water with a view of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and the marina. We finished with some gelato and then walked further along the water how similar the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge looks to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
Once we reached the Torre de Belém we crossed the bridge to the entrance. Even during low tide the tower is surrounded by water. The top of the tower offered spectacular views of the city and the water.
We had a bumpy ride back to the Praça do Comércio in a tuk tuk. We watched the sunset (I was expecting something much more spectacular) and then found a little tapas place for dinner.
On our way back to our hotel we sopped at a shop named Fabrica de Natas. They make these little Portuguese egg tarts called pastel de nata. They taste like the flakey outside of a croissant and a creme brulee custard filling. They are heaven sent.
If you ever make it to Portugal fill your body with those things. You won’t regret it.