Day 04 - Monday, March 27, 2017 - Travel South of Lisbon; Visit Azulejos-Blue Ceramic Tiles; Azeitão Cheese Producer
We were able to see patches of blue sky this morning, a great way to start the day! The temperature was 55 degrees with 84% humidity but promises of sunshine for the afternoon.
Rikardo allowed us an extra 15 minutes this morning so we met at 8:45. We have a new bus; it is only five days old! Luis Tome was our driver for the day and he will be with us for the rest of the trip. Consistency is a wonderful thing…
We made a brief photo stop at The Monument to the Carnation Revolution. On April 25, 1974 the military staged a peaceful coup. No shots were fired and the dictatorship of Portugal came to an end.
April 25th is a national holiday known as Freedom Day and the end of the dictatorship also gave independence to the Portuguese colonies in Africa. The monument overlooks the gorgeous green space, the King Edward VII Park, named for a British monarch who visited Lisbon in the early 1900’s.
Luis took us on an extended side trip to see more of the waterfront area that was being restored for a new cruise ship harbor that will transform the city. Sadly, many of the old classical buildings are disappearing and being replaced by modern structures.
We left the city by way of the new Vasco de Gama Bridge, the longest bridge in Europe, more than 17 kilometers or over 10 miles long. The tide was very low and we could see people harvesting seafood.
Driving south of the city, we experienced the real Portugal with small farms and their whitewashed buildings with red tile roofs. Cork trees dot the fields of wheat; large plots of onions, beans, and other vegetables thrive in the Azeitão region. Vineyards, olive trees, and oranges and other fruit orchards bring agricultural revenue to the area.
While we traveled, Rikardo gave us a brief history of the Iberian Peninsula. In short, the Carthaginians, then the Romans, the Visigoths, the Moors, and finally the Christians took over the land in 1492. Surprisingly, we were reminded that Portugal still had a dictator in 1974.
Our morning learning and discovery was to visit the Azulejos de Azeitão. Nino, an associate of the tile company gave us a demonstration of the process of Portuguese tile production beginning with the shaping of the individual squares to the painting and glazing.
Each tile was hand made and then a small team of artists painstakingly paint each tile. We had a chance to paint a tile that will be glazed and baked in their kilns. We will collect them again when we arrive in Madrid.
The next stop was the farm, Quinta Velha Queijeira or Cheesery that Filipa and her daughter Susana ran as a Museum of Cheese. Their farm site dates back to the Roman times and there were olive trees that were over 2,000 years old. The oldest cooperative olive press was also found on the farm, but many of these traditions are being lost to large factories.
In 1937 Flipa's father in law bought the farm and brought a herd of sheep and began the original dairy. She explained the process of curdling the milk by adding plant rennet to the milk to begin the process.
Filipa provided a hands on learning experience as about half of the group learned how to squeeze the curds to get the moisture out of the cheese and pack it into small molds.
We had lunch at the farm enjoying several homemade cheeses as appetizers and then the main course was baked turkey with seasoned potatoes and onions. Our dessert was a selection of farm fresh oranges, Mandarin oranges, and two sweets, one chocolate and the other a cinnamon and cream roll.
Everyone thanked Filipa and her staff and then we had time to look around the farm and see the sheep. Susana took us out to feed carrots to the donkeys. At 2:15 we left the farm for the drive back to the city.
When we got back to the hotel, we went for a walk and found a well-stocked mini-market only a few blocks away. We got a few more Euros from an ATM close to the hotel and by 5:00 we were working on the photos and the journal.
As this is our last night in Lisbon, we remembered to get our valuables out of the room safe, did a few pieces of laundry, and packed our bags for tomorrow’s departure.
Reflecting on the day through the journal and our photos is always a worthwhile time spent. We learned about the disappearing art of making cheeses and the centuries old process of the Portuguese tiles. Even more information about the tiles:
The term azulejo, (the blue tiles) became an art form in Portuguese architecture and comes from the Arabic word az-zulayj, meaning "polished stone." The Moors brought this tradition to the Iberian Peninsula.
Accommodations: Turim Av Liberdade Hotel - - - Meal: B & L
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You look great! Wonderful pictures and the lunch oh my! Thanks for sharing your adventures.
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Oh My Goodness!!! I am so happy to hear from y'all!!! I didn't have my bags packed for this trip, but I see you put me in your pockets and are carrying me along. That is very sweet, and I appreciate it very much. Have fun and that new friend -- looks like a big ol' sweetie!!!
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