Day 02: A Superstar, Downhill Day in Lisbon

This morning we somehow woke up smarter than we were yesterday, as not only did we allow ourselves to sleep in until 10am, but it also dawned on us that we could outsmart these hills. Feeling a little crisp from the night before, we headed out just past 11am to get our day started.

Only part of the Jeronimos Monastery

Only part of the Jeronimos Monastery

Our plan was to walk to Praca da Figeira (downhill, mind you) and take the 15E tram to a neighborhood in Lisbon called Belem, which has a great big monastery and some important bits. When we got to Praca da Figeira we noticed a small crowd also waiting for the trolley. We waited, the crowd got a little bigger, we waited some more, the crowd grew, waited, growing, waiting, grow… you get the picture. At one point, a man standing in front of us turned and asked if we were going to Belem, too. Since we were, he asked if we would like to share a cab, as it was only 3 miles away. We said sure, and soon found ourselves in a cab with a lovely couple from New York. It also turns out we were in the presence of celebrity. You see, the man is the same man who stars in the commercial for the arthritis medicine Capzasin-HP. In the commercial his name is “John” (stage name, of course) and he says the worst part of having arthritis is not being able to open the pickle jar. At the end of the commercial, and after having used Capzasin-HP, he can unscrew that cap with the best of ‘em. And here we all sat, sharing the same cab.

A fellow explorer, Vasco da Gama

A fellow explorer, Vasco da Gama

We soon arrived to Belem, where we bid adeus to our Hollywood friends, and strolled down the waterfront toward the great big monastery that dominates this area. After a quick coffee pick-up we were ready to go inside the Jeronimos Monastery, which is a giant cathedral (or, ok, monastery) that holds the remains of none other than Vasco da Gama. (!!)  This was turning out to be a day filled with heavyweights.

The Monastery is enormous, and, truth be told, not all that unlike some of the other enormous cathedrals we’ve seen, but we will always go out of our way to see the remains of someone of the ilk of da Gama.

Monument to the Discoveries (left), and one of the not-really-longest-bridges-in-the-world

Monument to the Discoveries (left), and one of the not-really-longest-bridges-in-the-world

After leaving the monastery, we crossed the road to the waterfront promenade to see the Monument of Discoveries that was made in da Gama’s honor, of course, and just in front of that is a huge map of the world inlaid on the pavement in marble (a gift from South Africa, probably because of how da Gama went around Cape of Good Hope, and all, and didn’t fall off the edge of the earth).

We continued strolling down the waterfront, where we saw locals fishing, some sort of adorable shorebird, and some rather large jellyfish. At first I thought they might be the infamous Portuguese Man-O-War, but upon a bit of research they are jellyfish. It’s actually worse that they are jellyfish, because it just adds to the collection of things that can cause serious pain to you in the water in these parts.

Shorebirds (adorable) & jellyfish (not adorable)

Shorebirds (adorable) & jellyfish (not adorable)

After a lovely ice cream stop and a rest in a waterfront park we were ready to get back to the hub of Lisbon, so took the 15E tram back toward town and disembarked at the Cais do Sodre stop to suss out that area of town. What we found there can only be described as Food Mecca, as there is a market called Mercado da Ribeira that has food stalls for miles. They also have flower stalls and a thriving fish market, but that was shut down for the day and my nose appreciated it.

Next we headed down “Pink Street,” a street known for the nightlife (but nicely serene during the afternoon), watched some sort of movie or commercial production taking place that involved mostly naked people crossing the street over and over, and then hopped back onto the Metro at Cais do Sodre to take it up, up, and up some more to the Marquis do Pombal stop. You see, Marquis do Pombal is a Metro stop above our hotel, so we were able to stroll (mostly) downhill to get back to home base. Before going back to the room, however, we made a coffee stop along Avenida da Liberdade to try a Portuguese specialty called pastel de nata. It is effectively a warm custard tart with a phyllo-dough-type crust, and is delicious. I tucked into it so fast I failed to get a picture.

Mercado da Ribeira, which translates to Food Mecca when you are hungry

Mercado da Ribeira, which translates to Food Mecca when you are hungry

We rested at the hotel for a spell before going for dinner. There would be no Zombie Dinner Stroll tonight as we enthusiastically were in agreement we were going back to Mercado da Ribeira. The walk to get there was a long one, but, importantly, it was downhill. I dined on pizza and Jim had sushi and we were both pleased as punch.

After dinner we strolled the flatland back to Cais do Sodre, took it back to Marquis do Pombol, and headed straight to the Vintage House rooftop bar, where we each had a Baileys before calling it a night. Today was (wo)man vs. hills, and I like to think we won.

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1 Comment

  1. L&B

     /  October 18, 2015

    Love reading about your adventures. Sounds like you are having a wonderful time. Look forward to reading about what will surely be great adventures ahead!!


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