Our second day in camp would bring another trip into Lisbon for sightseeing. When you are traveling like we are, there is a rhythm to each town. You arrive in camp and set up, becoming familiar with its features. Your first foray into town is full of uncertainty, not knowing where the bus will take you or stop, how much it will cost, how you’ll navigate the town.
The second day is better. You’ve figured out the logistics of travel to and from and begin to feel a bit more comfortable with your surroundings. This is important in a transient lifestyle like ours; you need to achieve some sense of confidence about your movements. It brings you peace.
Our goal for the day was to finish up our tour of central Lisbon, then travel back out to the Belem district (on the way back to camp) for two interesting tourist destinations. From our earlier visit to town we knew of a well-regarded pastry shop adjacent to the Praca de Figueira, the Confeitaria Nacional where we enjoyed our usual café con leite’s, a pastry and a sandwich. We then commenced our tour of the Baxia, which leads down to the river.
We stopped in at the MUDE Museum of Design and Fashion for a fascinating visit through decades of design innovation and history. From there we hit the Praca do Comercio (Trade Square) to visit the Portugeuse wine institute, where supposedly we’d get a free tasting in exchange for filling out a survey. As we’ve begun to discover, not all information in the guidebook is accurate and when we discovered there was a charge involved (remember, we are now officially retired senior citizens living on a fixed income, or something like that) we exited to pick up Trolley 15E to take us westward to Belem, for our next two stops.
First up was the Monastery of Jeronimos, erected by King Manual in the early 1500’s as a thank you for the discoveries made by early Portuguese explorers. It contains the tombs of Vasco da Gama and the poet and chronicler of the Age of Discoveries, Luís de Camões.
The 19th-century sculptor Costa Mota created both in a harmonious neo-Manueline style. Of most interest in this large complex are the adjacent cloisters, which we opted to miss in order to move on to our next stop, The National Coach Museum.
Housed in the old Horse Riding Arena of the Belém Palace, formerly a Royal Palace which is now the official residence of the President of Portugal, it was built after 1787 in a the Neoclassical style. The museum was created in 1905 by Queen Amélia to house an extensive collection of carriages belonging to the Portuguese royal family and nobility, giving a full picture of the development of carriages from the late 16th through the 19th centuries, with examples made in Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Austria and England
Much of that we have viewed throughout this trip was financed or is attributable to the church, the nobility, or both. When you observe these coaches, and the amount of money that would have been spent on each it only reinforces how much of a divide there was between those who ruled and those who served.
It was late in the day and we decided to eat at a place recommended in the Steves guide for Belem, one that had been very crowded when we passed by it earlier. This is Pao Pao Queijo Queijo. We selected one Shawarma a piece, a beef and a chicken with a beer to accompany for a hair over 10 euros. Inadvertently ordering from the baguette side of the menu card, they came that way, not in a pita, a bit of surprise but a very good and interesting way to enjoy the sandwich.
We rode back to camp on the bus, satisfied with two consecutive days of pretty complete sightseeing, feeling as those we had hit many of the major sights with just a few more to go. We settled into our familiar routine back in camp, checking mail, writing, taking care of routine housekeeping matters. Oh, and drinking that cold draft beer.
Confeitaria Nacional: http://confeitarianacional.com/english/home.html
MUDE Museu: http://www.mude.pt/
Monastery of Jeronimos: http://www.mosteirojeronimos.pt/pt/index.php
The National Coach Museum: http://en.museudoscoches.pt/