The last two days in Lisbon flew by. The first few days of our holiday were spent wandering aimlessly, getting to know the city, and soaking up the sunshine. But friends and family had recommended some great spots in town that we didn’t want to miss on our trip – famous pastries, historic castles, and beautiful architecture. Lisbon really has it all, and we had a full agenda for our last two days in town!^ ^ We started our morning in Belém, an easy ten minute train ride from the center of Lisbon.Similar to the more historical neighborhoods of Lisbon, this part of the city is a blend of pop art, graffiti, colorful buildings and stunning architecture.They also have one of the best pastry shops in Portugal, Pasteis de Belém. We skipped breakfast at the house and prepared to gorge ourselves on savories and sweets and teas, as you do on holiday!There is always a notoriously long line out front of the store, sometimes wrapping around the corner. Skip the take away and sneak in the side door. The dinning area is endless and after a few minutes of roaming, you can usually scoop up a seat. We came pretty early on a week day, so the cafe area was still fairly open. But the longer we mulled over tea, the more packed the dining room became. Despite their hundreds of tables, the Pasteis de Belém is always packed!We weren’t quite sure to get, as the menu was in Portuguese. So we kindly explained to the waiter that we wanted the famous pastries, and pointed out a few other cryptic items on the menu. I recognized the word ‘duck’ from the evening before, and Amie knew she was getting something with ham! When our food came, we barley paused to take a photo before digging in. I got a duck pot pie – it was perfectly crispy on the outside, overflowing with hot gravy and tender duck on the inside. Really, really delicious!The only thing better than the duck were the pastries. They tasted like small, creme brulee tartlets on a bed of buttered, flaky dough. I completely understand why so many friends recommended a stop here!
We dug in, trying to savor each decadent bite. Which was hard, as they were entirely too small!! Everything about the cafe was branded – from the tea cups to the napkins to the tiles on the sidewalk out front. I’m not big on souvenirs, but if you recall, I love royal blue and white colors. I searched in vain for a tourist shop on the way out, ready to buy a whole tea set from Pastéis de Belém. No luck.
But I did find a back room with a window view into the kitchen, where old Portuguese women skittered around, mixing big bowls, carrying large trays, and taking fresh pastries in and out of the oven. I wish I could have taken this pan of back to Amsterdam!! However they are best when fresh and their recipe is a secret. So I will just have to come back to Portugal again soon for some more teatime goodies! Or perhaps create a special copycat version for the blog.Next stop in Belém was the Jerónimos Monastery, a quick stroll next door, past this adorable tram cafe.^ ^ If we hadn’t already eaten, we would have stopped here for the creative store-front alone!The monastery was huge, intricately carved, and like many man made marvels, quite humbling.Unfortunately, they are closed on Mondays so we didn’t get a chance to poke around inside. But the sun was hot and the skies were a solid blue, so we were OK to spend the morning outdoors anyways! Next stop was the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, or in English, the Monument of Discoveries. Shaped like the prow of a Portuguese caravel, this monument looms above the river in Belém. It was here, on a windy day in 2013, that my sundress flew up around my waist, prompted by a gust of wind.Admiring the beautiful statue, I did not notice that my bum was also on display for all the gathered tourists. v v I spent the rest of the morning walking around like this, holding the bottom of my dress tightly in a bunch.Awkwardly taking photos of bridges in the distance, with one free hand.
What is worse – having a crowd of strangers see your bum in a thong? Or having a crowd of strangers see your bum in old granny panties?
Anyways, after an awesome morning of flaky pastries and flashing panties, we rode the train back into Lisbon.v v Where we found a shaded cafe and drank three rounds of iced tea!!
For old time’s sake, we wandered up into Baixa Chiado, our favorite nightlife neighborhood in Lisbon. The colorful streets are strung with garland – festive, authentic, and joyful. At night the streets become packed, with people mingling, dancing, and drinking under the night sky.In this neighborhood you will also find many painted doors and walls – a living, breathing street museum.
We wandered past the Igreja do Carmo, a beautiful, destroyed church with skeletal arches.
^ ^ Lovely view from under the arches.
We ended the day with a dinner reservation at a traditional Portuguese restaurant with live Fado music. I didn’t bring my camera (as sangria has a tendency to make me sloppy!) but I did snap a few iPhone photos. v v The evening was an experience to say the least. We shared a small table at A Tasca do Chico with four others, crammed in, feasting on Portuguese tapas and watered down sangria. We listened to melancholic fado singers belt it out, front row. The music was deep, sincere, and mesmerizing. Afterwards, we strolled the streets of Lisbon, cooling off and reflecting, enjoying our last night in town.
Day 4 was another perfect day weather wise, balmy and in the mid 70’s. We wandered the shopping area, picking up postcards and magnets for friends back home.
There were two things we wanted to do before we left – have a proper seafood meal, and make our way up to the castle. We found our seafood smörgåsbord at Faca e Grafo, a cute corner-side cafe in Baixa Chiado.
The menu was loaded with seafood options, most pan seared and served in a simple sauce of olive oil and lemon.We both went for salads and sangria, and I got the squid while Aime got steak.The squid were amazing. They are an odd food to look at, but when cooked properly, are crispy and tender. And a little bit squiggly! v vTopped with garlic, butter, and parsley, they were an amazing last meal in Lisbon!!
Filled up on squid and sangria, we decided it was time to venture up to the Castle of São Jorge. The views from the top are notoriously beautiful, and the castle itself is a graveyard of history. The strongly fortified hilltop castle dates from the medieval period in Portuguese history – sometime around 48 BC!We strolled around the shaded cobblestones, admiring the view from the top.In every direction were red roof tops and beautiful shades of blue.We explored the gardens and then climbed up the seep steps to the top of the castle wall.
And from the top, looking out over the city, we said our goodbyes to Lisbon.We had to hurry to the bus stop and then quickly to the airport, but we had definitely saved the best views for last!!Goodbye Lisbon with your red roosters, delicious sangria and lingering summer sun, we will be back again soon!!