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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Long weekend in Portugal... Part 2

Welcome to day 2 of my Portugal, well Lisbon review. :)

We woke up nice and early as we knew that there were a lot of sights that we want to cover on the 2nd day. One of the major ones we wanted to visit was the Castle of Saint George (Castelo de São Jorge). So as we walked up along Rua Cruzes da Sé (Cathedral Cross Street), the first thing you will notice is the Cathedral of Lisbon (Sé de Lisboa). It is the cathedral of Lisbon and the oldest church in the city.


Façade of Lisbon Cathedral

As soon as we got there, there was a bunch of tourists that was around the area so we thought that it be a good idea to just tag along as we were kind of 50/50 that their next stop would be the Castle of Saint George and we were right! LOL... It saved us looking at the map. The Castle of Saint George is the Castle of Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, and is located in the highest hill of the historic centre of the city. It is one of the main historical and tourist sites of the city. The view from up there was just spectacular. From there you see the Christ the King Catholic monument (Cristo-Rei), the 25th of April Bridge (25 de Abril Bridge), and everything else around it. Only took somewhere around 30 mins to walk up here and with the 5 € admission fee, it was definitely worth it.


View of Lisbon from the Castle of Saint George


After walking around and checking out the areas within the castle walls we walked down to towards the Square of the Fig Tree (Praça da Figueira) where you can see the Equestrian statue of King John I (the tenth King of Portugal and the Algarve and the first to use the title Lord of Ceuta) and to find a place to have lunch.

After lunch we walked towards the Rossio aka Pedro IV Square (Praça de D. Pedro IV) where you can see the Maria II Theatre and the Monument to King Peter IV (Pedro I).


View of the Maria II Theatre and the Monument to King Peter IV at the Rossio aka Pedro IV Square

From there we jumped on a train towards Orient Station (Gare do Oriente). From here you can get to one of the mega malls in Lisbon called the Vasco da Gama mall and also to the Park of the Nations (Parque das Nações) as well as the Vasco da Gama tower.

The Orient Station itself is a remarkable piece of architecture. Its glass and steel columns are reminiscent of palms, making the whole structure fascinating to look at. Anyway after spending a couple of hours around this area we again jumped on a train back to Commerce Square where we then took the tram to area of Jardim do Ultramar (Overseas Agricultural Tropical Garden), home of two UNESCO World Heritage sites and the best Portuguese custard tart (Pastéis de Belém) are. Woot!

First off when we got there we first made a stop at the Café Pastéis de Belém where we cued up to get to the mouth watering custard tarts. Then we settled down at one of the park benches at the Jardim do Ultramar to try them out. Oh and believe me on this… it is the best. It is not the same as the traditional Chinese custard tarts. The base is made out of sheets of pastry that gives it the fluffy yet crispy base. The custard itself was just sweet enough that it didn’t overpower the flavour. Oh and having this fresh out of the oven is even better! We bought a dozen of them which came in two packs of 6 and we scoffed the first pack down within minutes. Woah… slurp slurp…


Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pasteis de Nata)

From there we walked over to Santa Maria de Belém aka Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) which only took between 15-20 mins. Belém Tower is one of the two UNESCO World Heritage sites in this area. By the time we got there they were closed so we couldn’t walk into the tower itself but manage to take some snaps anyway.

After Belém Tower we walked over to see the Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos). The monument was built to celebrate the Portuguese who took part in the Age of Discovery of the 15th and 16th centuries, during which Europeans explored the world by ocean searching for trading partners and particular trade goods.

From there we walked back towards the Empire Square (Praça do Império) where you can see the Hieronymites Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) which is another UNESCO World Heritage site.


The Empire Square and the Hieronymites Monastery

As the evening was coming to a close, we decided to go to Augusta Street to have dinner and then head back the hotel as it was getting late and pack everything to return to Oporto the next morning.

Stay tuned for day 3 of Portugal...

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