Saturday, April 4, 2015

My Adventure in Lisbon, PORTUGAL!!!

Alrighty folks, so without further ado, here are the photos from my sunny and relaxing time last week in LISBON, PORTUGAL!!!

I was there from Friday, March 27 through to Friday, April 3.

Note: This is only Part 1 of the photos.  Part 2 will be posted within 48 hours :-D

First off, the weather in Portugal.  Exactly as I both expected and hoped for.  The sun was shining every single day.  Not a single rain drop made an appearance.  For the first few days, it was around 60-65 degrees F which put me comfortably in jeans and t-shirts.  Then for my last 3 days there, it was around 75-80 degrees!!!  At that point, the jeans went away and the skirt came out!!  This was fantastic.  I sat outside a lot of different places (gazing at the Pena Palace, lying on the beach in Cascais, sitting in cafes reading/writing/people watching) enjoying the warmth on me.

I enjoyed sitting in this cafe a few times for breakfast.  It was super cheap over here in Portugal, wow.  A slice of cake and a tea will cost you around 4-5 euro total in Germany.  Here, I got a dessert roll and tea for 2 euros total!!!  TWO euros!!!  Super sweet.

The next set of photos was all taken on my first afternoon in Lisbon.  I arrived around 1:30pm, incredibly tired as I had slept maybe 4 hours the night before due to pre-travel excitement and nerves.  I considered taking a nap upon arrival but then thought, nah, I am going out to see the city.  I can sleep later on ;-)

I found Lisbon to be an incredibly unique city. I was captivated by it right away.  The city was super lively, filled with such a mixture of people, of all ages, races, from different places and all walks of life.  The buildings were colorful, faded, many crumbling, a great many others were tiled and beautiful.  Huge looping metal street lamps affixed to the sides of buildings made for a lovely edition to the already eye-catching facades.  Much of Lisbon is poor, yet the city held feelings of excitement and movement.  I would describe it as funky, friendly, very fun and unique.  Much of the streets are cobblestoned.  Staircases are frequent and placed sporadically, hidden down narrow alleyways or behind corners, connecting one to another street or area close by.

Oh. My. God.  This bread.  I am still dreaming about it.  This is a Portuguese specialty.  The name specifically is Pao de Deus.  I ducked into a bakery on my first afternoon wanting to try something different and needing a tea to hopefully feel more energetic for the next couple hours.  The young salesgirl directed me to these, saying they are a popular Portuguese sweet.  

This is a fairly plain yet lightly sweetened bread roll that is topped with fresh coconut.  The coconut topping has been made into a paste-like consistency and spread on top of the roll.  Then the top is sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar, and viola!  

I am not a big coconut fan, but I thought I would give it a go, why not.  Biting into this, I could hear the Hallelujah choir beginning their song in my head.  I was hooked.

I ate literally around 11 or 12 of these throughout the course of the week I was here.  I reasoned this out by deciding, who knows when I will be able to eat these again?  So I am going to enjoy them while I am here.  And that I did.  I can still picture how they tasted....light, perfect roll texture, with the mildly gritty yet sweet coconut paste on top.  Heaven.

The famous Lisbon trolleys!!!  I had read online that one should snag the #28 trolley and ride it up into the hills of the Alfama above the city.  I did this, paying the 2.85 euro for the ride.  This was a superb recommendation!!  What fun!  The ride was topsy-turvy, definitely smile-inducing.  It took passengers around hairpin turns, down tightly squeezed alleyways, through colorful bustling streets, up step hills and down.  I absolutely loved this.

The following photos are after my adventurous trolley ride.  I was now up in the Alfama district of Lisbon.  I spent a number of hours throughout the course of my trip wandering this area.  This ended up being my favorite part of the city.  Incredibly romantic, charming, old, cobblestoned streets, quiet alleyways, lots of winding and beautiful streets, crumbling and lightly colored building fronts, breathtaking views of the city below.

The keys to the flat I stayed in...I just thought these were fun looking ;-)

And, the world-famous Portuguese custard tarts.  So of course, I had to try them.  These were quite good.  The pastry shell was sweet and almost had a soft-cookie like texture to it.  They are soft, sweet, creamy and delicious.  Though I wouldn't say I was absolutely wowed by them, I did really enjoy them.

This, is what I was wowed by :-D

The Elevator de Santa Justa, a famous landmark in Lisbon.  I love the look of it.  Makes me think of some kind of apocalyptic, abandoned, slightly creepy old elevator leading up to somewhere mysterious and haunting.  I didn't ride to the top myself, just gazed from afar a few times and enjoyed the look of it.

Fun fact: this was built by a student of Gustav Eiffel, the man who built the Eiffel Tower!!

One afternoon, I stumbled upon this HUGE, absolutely humongous street market that went on for blocks and blocks.  Literally everything one could possibly imagine was being sold here.  I didn't purchase anything, just wandered through and enjoyed the scene.

Upon seeing this resort-like, luxurious looking rooftop cafe, I checked out their prices (a tea and slice of cake would run me around 5 euros.  Pricey for Lisbon haha but typical for Germany) and then decided to have a seat to do some major reading, writing and relaxing but really these were all excuses to enjoy the absolutely stellar view.

This was my view, though if I sat up reeeeeeeeally straight, I could see over the fence.  It was SO warm and sunny as I sat here.  I stayed for around 2 hours, absolutely captivated by my book, as well as enjoying the scene and the view.

How cool is that?  That is where I sat!!! :-D

<3 Lisbon!!

This was a delicious filet of Salmon, yummy.  For a starter I had a bit of bread topped with a sun dried tomato paste which was excellent.

My lovely host, Judite left me fruit and chocolates every day.  This was such a sweet, unexpected and really nice gesture!  I loved this.

I really enjoyed staying here.  It was cozy, very comfortable and quiet.

This is Jeronimos Monastery in Belem.  Belem is a small seaside town just outside of Lisbon, about a 15 minute tram ride outside of the city.  This Monastery is apparently very famous.  It was gigantic.  It seemed to stretch on and on.  The building almost looked as though it was made of crumbling, old stone or plaster.  Really, really neat looking.

This shop, Pasteis de Belem, is apparently known all throughout Portugal.  My host, Judite insisted I go here and try their world-famous custard tarts.  

Fun fact: They sell around 20,000 of these custard tarts every single day!!!  And around 50,000 at Christmas time.

I waited in the very long, snaking line which was surprisingly fast.  It only took about 15 minutes.  I snagged 4 of the custard tarts and a slice of quiche.  

After that edible excursion, I headed in search of the Tower of Belem...but first stumbled across this!  The Padrao dos Descobrimentos.  

It represents a three-sailed ship ready to depart, with sculptures of important historical figures such as King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, poet Camões holding verses from The Lusiads, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, cartographers, and cosmographers, following Prince Henry the Navigator at the prow holding a small vessel.

And finally, the world-famous Tower of Belem.  Apparently this tower is to Lisbon, what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, what the Empire State Building is to NYC, and what the London Bridge is to London, etc.  You get the idea.

Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor, the Belem Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland. 

It is a monument to Portugal's Age of Discovery, often serving as a symbol of the country, and UNESCO has listed it as a World Heritage monument. 

I actually found it to be rather haunting, as well as quite beautiful.  The area around it was wooded with a sprawling park.  I hung out here for around an hour or so, just looking at the tower, taking photos, and trying one of those tasty custard tarts!!!

I enjoyed these the evening after Belem as a before-bed treat.  The shop gives you little packets of powdered sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on top.  Apparently this is part of what makes them so delicious and noteworthy.  I have to admit, this did "up" their yummy factor for sure.

Coming up in Part 2 of Portugal Photos: day trip to Sintra (a city set, for the most part, on top of a mountain!!!) to see the Pena Palace, day at the beach in Cascais, more food photos, more Lisbon!

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