Day 03 - Wednesday, April 12, 2023 – Explore Lisbon; Welcome Briefing; Visit Tower of Belém; National Coach Museum; 17th-century Architecture; Baixa; Alfama District
We had a great night’s sleep and woke up at 7:00, ready for breakfast. The hotel’s buffet was exceptional. The fresh fruit and variety of breads and pastries were the best we have experienced.
We gathered again at 9:00 when Henrique gave us an overview of the trip and more details of our daily itineraries. As with all OAT adventures, we understand that the weather is out of our control, but Henrique reminded us that if we have weather concerns, we will have changes in our plans.
Our driver, Marco met us with a brand new 20 passenger bus. The huge clean windows gave us great views of the city as our local guide Rita, pointed out the sites of Lisbon. Giving us a history of the Iberian Peninsula, she explained the love/hate relationship with their cousins, the Spanish.
First stop was in the Belém District to visit the Belém Tower built in 1515, welcoming the sailors and navigators after their trips exploring the new world. Rita gave us many historical insights as the local vendors tried to distract us with sunglasses, tiles, bracelets, and cork coasters.
After a brief restroom stop, Marco met us for a short ride to the Monument to the Discoveries. From the monument, we walked under the road to the Empire Square dedicated to the former and present Portuguese colonies.
The Praça do Império Gardens and the Jerónimos Monastery were very crowded today. School was out for Easter Week so there were many groups of young people enjoying the parks. Henrique and Filipa joined us with a traditional Lisbon treat of Pasteis de Belem. This little pie of light custard was originally made by the monks of the monastery.
Today the President of Latvia was visiting the city and we were lucky to see the royal horse guard leading a procession in honor of the occasion. We walked to the Presidential Palace and then toured the Royal Carriage Museum featuring several of the 17th and 18th Century wooden carriages. These carriages were handmade of oak and decorated in gold with brocade fabrics and leather upholstery.
We hopped back on the bus and Marco took us back to the city center. We thanked Rita for her morning’s tour and said goodbye to the group going back to the hotel. We found an ATM machine and were able to get cash for our days in Portugal and the islands. One great thing about the EU is the ability to use the same currency throughout Europe.
About half of us stayed with Henrique and Filipa walking through the busy streets to the Pastelaria D. João II for a special sandwich of fried pork steak called a bifana. Vic and I should have shared a sandwich, the plates had a very generous piece of meat and a huge crusty bread roll.
We rode the subway back to the hotel arriving at 3:30 for a little free time to work on pictures and the journal before 5:00. We met our group in the lobby for a walk and another subway ride to the waterfront and the old fortified city walls.
After winding our way around several neighborhoods, we enjoyed our Welcome Dinner at Restaurante Aldea. We listened to a traditional fado performance and then our bus was ready to take us to the hotel at 9:00.
Back in our room, we finished the journal and packed for our flight tomorrow morning to the Azores. Another busy day in Lisbon, one of our favorite cities.
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I love these pictures and I hope they weather continues to cooperate!
Some day I want to get back to Lisbon and roam the old city center when it's not pouring rain!! A nice, full first day of touring!
What a wonderful trip. Love the photos & narrative.
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The coach looks like one that took Cinderella to the ball! We're actually having beautiful spring weather here.
Day 13 - Saturday, April 22, 2022 - Depart for U.S.
The hotel prepared a box breakfast for us as we had to be in the lobby way before the breakfast room was open.
Last night we found out that our departure flight back to...