Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lisbon, Part Uno

After our unexpected stop in Castro Verde, we made it to Lisbon in the early evening, checked into our hotel, then hopped on the metro downtown to find something to eat. And drink, of course. The area around the triumphal arch is called "Baixa" and most of the streets are pedestrian. 

Shoppers and people just out for a stroll on the Rua Augusta.

We wandered around for a bit, checking menus and enjoying the liveliness of the area, then settled on a café on a side-street with outdoor seating. Our lunch was pretty hearty, so a couple of cervezas and some paninis were all that we needed.

Tasty dark cerveza, which isn't common in our area of Spain.

Meghann snapped a few pictures on our way back to the metro and then we called it a noche, because we knew that we had planned a pretty aggressive schedule for the next dia.

Bright and early our concept of early (which has changed since moving to España) we went back to the triumphal arch, to check out the Praça do Comercio, in the daylight. The plaza is dedicated to Lisbon's reconstruction after a major earthquake in 1755.

From the plaza, we walked to the Sé Catedral, which dates from the 12th century. The interior was beautiful and typical of Gothic architecture, with a gorgeous rose window and gated side chapels.

This iron gate dates to the 13th century.

As we reached the back of the church, there was a turnstile where you had to pay more to see the cloister. We hesitated, but were so glad we shelled out a few extra Euro, because this area is what truly makes the Sé unique.

The central courtyard of the Gothic cloister is under excavation and archeological remains of Moors, Romans, Visigoths, and Phoenicians have been found.

The cathedral's cloister and its chapels are open, so that we could wander through them. It was peaceful and a little creepy haunting.

Then we put on our shades and made our way up to the hilltop Castelo de São Jorge to take in the panoramic views of the city.

We also walked through the castle, which dates from the Moorish era and was recaptured by King Afonso (yes, that guy) in 1147. 

Next we got on a bus to Belém, which is just outside of the center of Lisbon and has many of the city's most famous sites.

The Torre de Belém, a defensive tower built during the 12th century in the Tejo River, which protected the approach to Lisbon.

The tower's passageways were just Meghann's size!

We didn't make it to the Mosteiro dos Jer ónimos until late in the afteroon which meant that we had to make our way quickly through the 16th century monastery, but it was worth it because the light at that time of day made it even more striking.

Our last stop in Belém was the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a modern monument dedicated to the explorers of Portugal's golden age.

Graham Captain Morgan-ing the monument.
After a super-productive dia (seriously, looking back at the pictures, we couldn't believe that we did all of this in one day) it was tiempo for an afternoon snack and then back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner.

Afternoon snack = cerveza and a pastéis de nata, a custard tart that is considered a staple in Lisbon.
For dinner, we went to the Bairro Alto neighborhood, because we had read good reviews for a small Thai restaurant there. The food was delicious and spicy (this is the location of one of Graham's infamous man vs. spice stories, and yes, there is more than one). We washed it down with a bottle of vinho verde, Portugal's refreshing "green" vino.

Before we took the metro back to the hotel, we grabbed a couple beers and walked the streets of the Bairro Alto. A perfecto end to a full day.

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