Tuesday 18 November 2008



How great was it to see palm trees and blue sky in November? It was certainly a welcome change from the windy, rainy weather we have been having in London.


True to form, we abandoned the kitchen over the weekend in favor of exploring sunny Lisbon. Neither of us had been to Portugal before, so that was an attraction in itself. I was also excited about being able to use my British passport to go through the EU queue on my own merit. We both took Friday off work to maximize our time there, and it was nice not to feel so rushed.

Themes for the weekend could roughly be fit into three categories: sight-seeing, food, and interesting modes of transportation (not necessarily in that order). We started with lunch at a tapas bar. Immediately we realized our mistake: Portuguese cuisine is heavy on seafood and eggs, two of the only things S cannot eat. I enjoyed the potato tortilla and ham in eggs, but S was a bit disappointed. Hopefully the view from the top of Santa Justa softened the blow.

Elevador de Santa Justa


The elevator (sorry: lift) connects the lower Baixa area to the upper Chiado area and offers a panoramic view of the city. It is hard not to admire the craftsmanship and ingenuity that went into it.


Riding back to the bottom, we continued our stroll down Rua Áurea to see the water. Lisbon is often compared to San Francisco, and a peek at the Portuguese version of the Golden Gate Bridge made it easy to see why.

25 de Abril Bridge, with statue of Cristo Rei visible to the left


We finished our first day at Ribadouro, on the swanky Avenida da Liberdade.


One of these langoustines would have set us back well over €100, but S opted for a steak instead. I asked about the prawns "brás style" and was told it was "shreemps, with sheeps and eggs." I was unsure about the "sheeps" so I asked "lamb?" and he said, "yes, sheeps." Whatever. It all sounded fine (if a bit weird) to me. I was relieved and surprised to find my prawns baked in an eggy potato fritter - sheeps, you know: chips. Our table was in between a group of nosy, yet friendly, Japanese tourists who were surprised when I told them (in Japanese) what we were eating and asked how they were enjoying their fresh seafood, and the grumpiest Spanish couple I have ever seen. Neither of them smiled once. The man kept sending everything back (poor live lobsters being shuttled in and out of the water at his whim!) and I don't believe the woman spoke at all. We enjoyed our meal, and S discovered a dark beer that he quite liked.


Café culture in Baixa-Chiado

More food on Saturday morning.

Assorted pastries, with our first pastel de nata in the middle



After breakfast, we took the 15E tram to Belém. We saw all the major attractions.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Padrão dos Descobrimentos


Torre de Belém


And of course the famous Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, the only place in the world where the pastéis de nata can be called pastéis de belém.


What the guidebooks don't tell you is that the restaurant is massive. Maybe the Dr. Who creators had visited a few places in Lisbon when they designed the TARDIS - bigger on the inside than the outside? We got a table inside one of the many cafeteria-style rooms, but there was a queue building as we sat there. Amazing.


Back in town, S taught me how to take photos like this on my camera.

Praça Marquês de Pombal

Then we took the Elevador da Glória funicular to Bairro Alto.


Moon over Lisbon

Dinner at Cervejaria Trindade

S's veal kebabs

Similar to my shreemps with sheeps; but with mashed bread instead of potatoes


A final note on food: we stumbled upon the funniest cake in Pastelaria Suiça. So funny that it deserves its own blog entry.

It was a very pleasant weekend and I'm glad we got away!


Anonymous said...

with the combo of food, sight seeing, and various modes of transport, it sounds like the ideal place for d and a to visit. so proud of you that you went on a funicular! --aedredhead

Anonymous said...

great post. it's always nice to see how other people look at the thing that we know... Tapas and tortilhas are spanish...
Glad that you liked it