Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Lisbon had looked gorgeous on the web, and we had found a lovely apartment, so we gratefully alighted there for a full week with a sigh of relief, only to be struck down with a mild dose of Delhi belly, probably from a street meal in Morocco. So we spent a day resting, drinking lemonade and doing a small shop for essentials and looking a little at our close surroundings.
Lisbon, town planner N
The Marquess of Pombal who redesigned the city after the earthquake
Lisbon, arcade
An arcade near the waterfront
Lisbon, royal pole waterfront
A pole marks the Royal entrance to land
Lisbon, triumphal arch
The triumphal entrance to the city
Our first day out we determined to take the pretty little yellow tram, no. 28 and off we went up hills and around corners in something a bit like a San Francisco cable car except there is no cable. After visiting the rather dour Estrella church we ended up near the San Jorge castle which overlooks the town. First a visit to the mirador or outlook point, with pretty gardens and vistas and some very old tiled walls showing Lisbon pre the 1778 earthquake. Then off to the castle to explore the walls and towers, walkways and cannon and the view over the town. Olive trees afforded shade and a nice café a soft drink as we rested. We decided enough and passed on visiting the cathedral, so of course we never saw it.
Lisbon, tram
The number 28 tram
Lisbon, trams
Breakneck speed around the bends

Inside the tramLisbon,trams passing

Inside the tram as it passes another
Lisbon, tile and lamp
A tiledplaque and shadow of a lamp
Lisbon, tile picture
This tiled view shows part of Lisbon before the earthquake
Lisbon, urinal
A urinal near the castle
Lisbon, from the castle
City through the crenellations
Lisbon, St George castle2
The San Jorge castle
Lisbon, St George castle
Cannon face the river

The next day was set for Belem, beginning with the Monasterio San Jeronimos which is quite the biggest monastery, at least in length. It holds the tomb of Vasco de Gama and also of the poet Camoes and is decorated in the Manueline style, (named after the king) which basically means flourishes and curlicues and naval references. The chapel was a soaring place with beautiful ceilings and a strangely different apse that seemed not to fit at all. The cloisters were double storied and filled with beautiful filigree decoration as well as some amusing gargoyles.

Lisbon san ger
Just a part of San Jerinimos
Lisbon, monastery ceiling 2
The nave
Lisbon, San G aisle
From the choir
Lisbon, san G vasco
Vasco da Gama’s sarcophagus
Lisbon, monastery cloister caravelleManueline tracery Lisbon, san Geronimos1 NThe non-matching apse Lisbon San G family

A young holy family dressed in robes

Lisbon, monastery
Beautiful ceiling
Lisbon, monastery cloister
The Manueline cloister
Lisbon, monastery refectoryThe dining hall Lisbon, san Geronimos2 NBeautiful windows Lisbon, cricket gargoyle
Cute grasshopper gargoyle

We walked over to the Monument to Discoveries, a huge ship like monument with figures, led by Henry the Navigator, who planned and encouraged exploration, though apparently never going on any himself. Lots of photos, followed by a nice lunch on a restaurant deck nearby . Then a nice meander up to the Belem Tower, which used to be right in the water and was the first and last sight of home for the sailors in the fragile caravelles. We followed this with a visit to the Royal Coach Museum. I have no idea why  they needed so many, but they are very beautiful.

Lisbon, monument bridge christ
The monument to the discoveries
Lisbon, monument
Henry the Navigator leads the way
Lisbon monumento
The bridge of 25th April
Lisbon, belem tower
Belem Tower
Lisbon, coach 2
Glorious coaches at the Coach Museum
Lisbon, coach detail Lisbon, coach belem detail
Manueline decorations on a detail of the Belem Tower. Note the rope decorations as well

Next day, off to the Gulbenkian Museum, yet another museum that belonged to an exceptionally rich man (oil) who left it to Lisbon and also the money for building the museum to his desires. Stunning! From Egyptian and Roman to Chinese porcelain and Turkish Iznik tiles, Persian carpets and velvet fabrics, a few Rembrants, Turners, Reubens, illuminated manuscripts and ending with a roomful of Lalique glass and jewellery. Sigh! It was beautifully curated but we also loved how photographs showed the items in his personal pied a terre in Paris.

Lisbon, Gulbenkian Egypt N
Egyptian statue
Lisbon, Gulbenkian Diana
Magnificent Diana
Lisbon, Gulbenkian wing
The orb and wing Egyptian decoration again
Lisbon, Gulbenkian Iznik tiles
Stunning Iznik tiles from Turkey
Lisbon, Gulbenkian torso
Lisbon, Gulbenkian Lalique brooch
Lalique pin
Lisbon, Gulbenkian Lalique snake
Snake corner on a mirror
Lisbon, Gul budgie lalique N
Budgerigar vase

Our special dinner at Restaurant Eleven that night was a great disappointment in both service and food. The situation, looking out on a misty Lisbon, the Portuguese flag and a beautiful park, was outstanding.

view from 11
The Design Museum was a great collection of seminal pieces from the history of design. It was just a little worrying that part of my life was there. Loved the black Balenciaga strapless dress that finished in a scalloped puddle of velvet on the floor. Then off up the glorious Santa Justa elevador to Chiado, past the church ruins kept as a reminder of the earthquake, to a good lunch.
         Lisbon, S justa elevador The Santa Justa Elevator lisbon carmela
The remains of the Carmelite Church left as a memorial to the earthquake
Lisbon, building screen
A building under renovation covered by this great printed netting

Later, on to a boat for a trip up and up the river as far as the Vasco da Gama bridge and down the river, passing under the 25th April Bridge, past the huge Christ statue and the Monumento and Belem Tower again for a different viewpoint.

Lisbon costa F
The ubiquitous Costa Fortuna again
Lisbon, bridge and hotel
Hotel and observation deck
Lisbon, bridge
Suspension Bridge
Lisbon, waterfront
The view of the square from the water
Lisbon, monument2
Monument to the discoveries from the water
Lisbon, belem 2
Belem Tower
Lisbon, bridge and christ
25th April bridge and the Christ statue
Lisbon, christ N


Then Sintra the next day, a train and bus trip that turned out to have multiple choices at the end. We chose the Pena Palace and the Sintra National Museum. The pictures tell the story.

Lisbon, Sintra 1 N
Pena Palace
Sintra Pena Palace
Layer on layer of building
Sintra palace courtyard
Courtyard windows
Sintra palace detail
Detail of arch with lizards
Sintra museum room
Amazing room in the Sintra museum
Sintra museum ceiling
Ceiling decoration
Sintra, N Museum
Sintra museum fountain
Drop in the fountain
An excellent meal at Oliviers, and lunch the next day at Guilty, both run by the same chef and very, very good indeed.
Another rich man’s museum, Fundacio Medeiros e Almeida, his personal home and at first just a house with maybe some expensive furniture and art. Then turn a corner and the place is like several royal state rooms, go downstairs and there is a chapel filled with antique church accoutrements, a hidden patio with a fountain from Versailles, surrounded by a collection of tiny boxes and glorious jewellery which I hoped his missus got to wear. Oh, then downstairs to the collection of clocks and watches. And one other couple visited while we were there. More staff than visitors and free till 1pm on Saturdays. Alas, no photos allowed.
Packed up that night, revisited a nice local tapas café and prepared for a 4am reveille. We had asked our landlady to order a taxi for 5am, which she did but said was unnecessary. She was right, the streets were still alive with people and there were lots of cabs. To the airport where I proceeded to have my carry-on searched. Seems I had left some Moroccan oil in it, which I was allowed to keep. BUT in the search several things were not repacked, including one of my gorgeous Sevillian shoes. As I write it appears that it is found and will be posted to me (at my expense) but YAY! I may have a pair again. (and I do. All turned up safe and sound)
There followed a trip from Lisbon to Frankfurt, over Greenland to Vancouver, then on to Portland, arriving at Cam and Christine’s place exactly 24 hours after we had woken in Lisbon. Not a light day of travel.
                         greenland1                   The Greenland Icecap
Stunning views
Next stop: Portland, Oregon and our little family.