The best of the rest: Final days in Lisbon

You know that feeling of sadness that sets in when you know your vacation time in an incredible locale is about to end?

You know that feeling of sadness that sets in when you know your vacation time in an incredible locale is about to end?

Yeah, that mixed bag of feelings where you’re kind of ready to get home to your own bed, but you also can’t fathom leaving behind your days of happy wandering.  I really wasn’t ready to leave Lisbon.  I liked this city even more than I anticipated I would.

Determined to spend every moment I could out in the city on my last day, my friend and I headed out to check out a couple of things left on our Lisbon list (and to eat at Time Out Market one more time).

Santa Justa Lift

I’d read very mixed reviews of the Elevador Santa Justa.  It’s a bit like the Pyramid in front of the Louvre. Some people adore it; some people despise it. The lift was opened in 1902 and was originally named Elevador do Carmo (you’ll see why in just a bit).  In truth, I find the Santa Justa Lift to be a bit of an eyesore…but, it really is the most convenient way to get from the Baixa to the Barrio Alto, unless you really like walking uphill.

You can use your city travel passes or Lisboa Card to take the elevator up and down.  It works like the rest of the transport in Lisbon, simply swipe your card in front of the scan pads located at the entrance of the lift.

After standing in line for about 15 minutes, we were ushered into the lift.  If you’re thinking the Santa Justa Elevator looks a bit like the Eiffel

Santa Justa Lift

Tower, you aren’t wrong.  Raul Mesnier de Ponsard was a big fan of Gustave Eiffel and used his tower as inspiration.  The elevator stands only about 150 feet tall, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views at the top.  (On a quirky note: 20 people can ride up in the elevator, but only 15 people at a time can come down.  Expect a bit of a wait.)

At the top of the Santa Justa was one of the sites I had been waiting to see, the ruins of the Carmo Church and Convent. Perhaps the most spectacular site I saw in Lisbon – and I saw lots of spectacular sites – the ruins of this Gothic church are a cannot miss, in my opinion.

The Carmo church, built between 1389 and 1423,  was THE church in Lisbon until the devastating earthquake that changed Lisbon completely struck on November 1, 1755. Attempts at restoration were eventually abandoned and the ruins were left to grace the Lisbon skyline.

The arches of the ruins of the Carmo Church and Convent

The magnitude 9 earthquake rocked the city of Lisbon, brought this church to rubble and destroyed the 5,000 some books that it housed.

The remains of the altar now house a small but fantastic museum and visitors are free to take their time marveling at what remains of the Gothic structure.  I spent hours looking up at the striking arches, imagining what this church looked like in its glory days. 

I have so many photos of these arches.  Every angle brought a new gorgeous view.  (I’ve posted some of them in the slideshow below).

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I visited two other churches on my last day.  I walked right up on Igreja da Madalena, the Church of Mary Magdalene, on my way to the Lisbon Cathedral.  This little church was a lovely surprise and is actually on the historic register.  Like many places in Lisbon, the church today is a product of several reconstructions. Incredibly ornate, it’s worth a stop.

Just up the hill, you will find the Lisbon Cathedral.  The Sé de Lisboa as you’ll hear it called (its official name is Santa Maria Maior) is a Romanesque structure that dates from the 12th Century.  You can enter the church at no charge.  Pay a small fee to see the cloisters and the church’s treasury which houses jewels and artifacts from its history.

Entrance of the Lisbon Cathedral
Cathedral of Lisbon
Stained glass in the Cathedral of Lisbon
Cathedral of Lisbon
Cathedral of Lisbon
Cathedral of Lisbon
Entrance to the Cathedral Treasury

Our last official tourist duty in Lisbon was to hop aboard one of the trams that shuttles you around the hilly city side.  The tram stop for the famous Line 28 is just outside the Cathedral.

Tram 28

Hop aboard the yellow car and ride the loop to enjoy Lisbon’s neighborhoods without the leg workout.

Obrigada Lisboa. Espero vê-lo novamente em breve.



Day trips from Lisbon: Cascais and Sintra

If you’re looking for a day trip from your vacation base in Lisbon, I’d like to tell you about two easy options that are only approximately 30 minutes away from the city: Cascais and Sintra.

Using Lisbon’s excellent public transportation system, hop on the subway at the nearest Metro station, ride to a stop where you can connect with the commuter train system, the comboios, and you can easily and comfortably make your way to Cascais and Sintra like I did. You can also use your Viva Viagem or Lisboa Card on the commuter rails (in addition to the subway and city buses, etc.)


Located on the Atlantic coast, Cascais,a quaint seaside town and former fishing village, offers visitors stunning views, plenty of shopping, good restaurants, and lovely beaches (which in truth are better enjoyed in the summer than in November). The streets are packed with the adorable and colorful buildings and the tiled sidewalks I’ve come to love in Portugal.

Front and center in Cascais is La Cidadela, a 15th Century fortress that was built to protect against invaders from neighboring Spain. The fortress now houses an exclusive hotel, bars and restaurants and several shops but still has its lovely view over the Atlantic and the mouth of the Tejo River.

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Perfectly walkable is the Parque Marechal Carmona in the historic center of Cascais.  The grounds are lovely and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.  During my visit, it was also full of birds: peacocks and chickens are everywhere.

Rooster in Parque Marechal Carmona
Parque Marechal Carmona
Chicks in Parque Marechal Carmona

There are a couple of other sites I’d recommend in Cascais. A short walk from the park lies the Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum and the Casa Santa Maria Cascais.  The two attractions sit side by side and you can buy a ticket that covers entrance into both.

View of Casa Santa Maria

Casa Santa Maria, or the House of St. Mary, was built by an Irishman, Jorge O’Neill, who made a fortune in tobacco.  The home conveys a sense of luxury and is full of those gorgeous Portugese azulejos. The home, built in 1902 was gifted by Mr. O’Neill to his daughter as a wedding gift.  The house has changed hands a few times since then and owners have added their personal touches.  Check out the amazing view from the dining room.



Just next door is the Santa Marta Lighthouse. Built in 1868, the lighthouse stands over what was a 17th Century fort.  There are some interactive exhibits here and you can climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse for a spectacular view.



If you got your fill of ocean views in Cascais, visiting the hilly Sintra is another good day trip from Lisbon.

Beautiful foliage in Sintra

Sintra is filled with quirky mansions of grand design and is located up in the hills of the Serra de Sintra.  The climate here can be quite a bit cooler than Lisbon, which is precisely why the well-to-do built their summer homes here.  If you’re visiting during cooler months, be sure to pack a coat (and maybe even gloves and a hat).

I dramatically underestimated (a) how hilly Sintra is and (b) how many castles you could visit in a day.  If I had my trip to do over again, I’d actually plan to spend a couple of nights in Sintra to really maximize what I got to see.   That said, here’s how my day trip to Sintra actually went.

If you all remember from my previous posts, I was actually sick during my trip to Portugal.  But, medicated with some amazing cough medicine and decongestants, I decided that I could make the trip to Sintra after all.  I’m normally a planner, but being under the weather, I decided that I could just wing my day.  Maybe not the best plan.

Upon arrival by train in Sintra, you’ll head out of the station and find several different options for touring the town.  Now, you can walk Sintra, but it is incredibly hilly and you may not want to exert that kind of effort. There are lots of hop-on/hop-off bus tour options that drive you from castle to castle.  You can hire a tuk-tuk. Or you can choose to rent an electric car.

We wandered in to the Go2Cintra electric car rental and rented an electric car (read: golf cart with cover) to hit the hills and castles of Sintra. Because I was hopped up on cold medicine, we decided my friend would drive.

The concept of these electric rental cars goes like this: rent the little car with your driver’s license and credit card.  Have the agent help you add the What’s App messaging app and a Google Maps route to your phone. Head out and enjoy seeing all the castles in Sintra. (Side note: there is no way to experience all of the castles in Sintra in a single day.  Cannot be done.)

Tiny electric car rented and me crammed in the back seat, we hit the hillsides of Sintra.  Driving with actual cars in a glorified golf cart was interesting, especially around blind corners.  Mindful that our golf cart had little acceleration and limited speed, I think we did ok. We were enjoying the scenery, making our way to the first castle, when we passed the parking for said castle and couldn’t figure out how or where to turn around to go back.  No problem, we thought.  We did find parking for castle two, but decided upon arrival that we’d rather save our time for a couple of other stops.  We hopped back in our tiny car and headed back out on the roads and that’s when things got…interesting.

The neighborhoods of Sintra from the backseat of our tiny car

What the agent at the car rental neglected to tell us is that Google Maps can – and does – reroute you from your planned route when it thinks it knows better than you about where you are supposed to be going. Let’s just say, we were enjoying some of the off tour sites in Sintra when we got a phone call from the Go2Cintra office inquiring about our location.  (Oh yeah, the office does track you via GPS, which is a good thing).  After a brief call with the office, we were rerouted.  At this point, we’d missed half of the castles, but what are you gonna do?

From the regular neighborhoods of everyday Sintra, we made our way to the coast and Cabo da Roca.  This is the westernmost point in mainland Europe. It was cold. It was windy. And the view was totally worth it.

Windblown and back in the car, we headed back into the hills for our first real stop: Convento dos Capuchos.  CLOSED.   This quiet, Franciscan monastery is definitely at the top of my list for my next trip to Sintra.  As is the Quinta da Regaleira, which we also missed.

Batting a thousand for castle stops, we finally made it to admire the outside of the Castelo dos Mouros, the ruins of a 9th Century Moorish Castle.  This castle was restored in the 19th Century by King Ferdinand II and is worth a look.

Pena Palace

Just down the road, we finally left our tiny car and toured the Park and National Palace of Pena.

Taking its place in the Portugese hillsides, it’s hard to miss the multicolored Pena Palace. I’m calling this palace the Frankenstein palace as it is a grand building that contains every architectural style you possibly think of.  It’s both enchanting and odd all at the same time.

The castle is built over the foundation of a Middle Ages chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  According to legend, she appeared at the site and thus, a chapel was built in her honor. A monastery soon followed and it stood for years until being damaged by lightning and fires.  It, eventually, succumbed to the power of the great earthquake that shook the greater Lisbon area in 1755.


Bright yellow walls of Pena Palace
Gargoyle detail from Pena Palace
Pena Palace
Pena Palace

In 1838, King Ferdinand II set his sights upon the ruins in Sintra and transformed them into the royal family’s summer home. The castle stayed in royal hands and had its last royal visitor when Portugal’s Queen Amélia, the last Portugese queen, spent her last night in Portugal here before being exiled.

We spent hours wandering the lush grounds.  Gorgeous and green, there are chalets, ponds, and benches everywhere.  Our last stop of the day was worth a somewhat frustrating experience of missing places we really wanted to see.

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If you are able, I’d highly recommend the hike up to the Cruz Alta, the highest cross in Sintra.  The cross sits atop the highest point of the Serra de Sintra. The walk up the hillside renders spectacular views and shouldn’t be missed.

Cruz Alta




More of Lisbon

Day two in Lisbon I started to feel unwell.  (Catch day one here). You know, just that typical congested head, coughing kind of cold virus that everyone succumbs to in the fall and winter.  Not one to miss out on sightseeing, I headed out anyway.

The steep climb to the National Pantheon

Today’s plan was literally to get lost wandering the Alfama district. The Alfama is a maze of tiny little streets dotted with adorable homes covered in azulejos.  Tiny shops and restaurants are tucked into every corner and each time you take a turn, you feel compelled to take a photo of the cutest street you’ve ever seen.

The Alfama is very hilly and you’ll get a killer leg workout in.  After hopping off the Metro, I started my ascent.  The Panteao Nacional or National Pantheon was first up on my list. If you’ve got a Lisboa Card, you can scan your card to get in.

20191114_195230You can see the massive white dome of the Pantheon from almost anywhere in the Alfama.  The church itself wasn’t inaugurated until 1966 after a series of troubles in construction. Inside you’ll be blown away by the use of different stone.  The church is laid out not in a typical Latin cross formation ,but in a Greek cross floor plan.

Also worth seeing here are the six cenotaphs of some of Portugal’s most notable sons and daughters and the pipe organ which was moved from the Lisbon Cathedral, the Sé, in the 1940s.


You can get a stunning view of the district from atop the Pantheon dome’s terrace.

Sao Vicente da Fora

From atop the Pantheon I could see the towers of what turned out to be the São Vicente da Fora. The monastery was founded in 1147 and was dedicated to Lisbon’s patron saint, Saint Vincent. The structure now houses a museum.

Entrance into the church is free but there is an entrance fee of 10€ for the museum. The contents are well worth the price as it contains several luxe pieces from the Catholic church as well as a close look at the architecture and tiles of the building.

Sao Vicente da Fora

Azulejo mosaics are prevalent in the cloisters. The bright blue and white tiles are in surprisingly good shape given the age of this structure. The details in each azulejo panel are fantastic.

Down a corridor, you’ll also be able to view the old monks’ refectory.  The refectory became the pantheon for the Braganza family, the last rulers of Portugal.  The highlight of the pantheon is a breathtaking sculpture at the tomb of King Carlos and Prince Luis Filipe, his heir. Father and son were assassinated in 1908.

And, as with many of Lisbon’s monuments, don’t miss the spectacular city views from the top.


After visiting both churches, I spend some more time wandering the streets of the Alfama and discover the most adorable cafe tucked away.  You won’t really know about the shops or restaurants in the Alfama until you are literally upon them.

Portugese meats, cheese and green wine at Rendevous

Rendevous was perfect for a snack of Portugal’s best meats and cheese and a glass of green wine. The Trip Advisor reviews tell you all you need to know about this charming restaurant.  The food and service were excellent. And we finished the meal with our first shot of ghinja, a sour cherry liqueur served in a chocolate shot glass. Nothing wrong with that.  You’ll find ghinja all over Lisbon.  A shot is about 1€.

We wandered more of the Alfama and of course, had another pastel de nata, this time at Santo António bakery near the Castel de São Jorge. (We missed the last admission to the Moorish castle by about 10 minutes).


At this point in the day, I’m feeling worse, so I pop into a pharmacy.  Pharmacies in Lisbon are in every neighborhood and are almost like urgent care centers.  I talked with a very kind pharmacist who spoke brilliant English.  (I found that most people in Lisbon spoke perfect English.  They were also very patient as I mangled Portugese in an attempt to learn a bit.  If you can read French or Spanish, you’ll be able to read Portugese pretty well, but Portugese does not sound anything like its Romance language cousins for the most part.)  After describing my symptoms, the pharmacist whipped up two prescriptions for me.  (No antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription).  Back at the hotel, a take out meal of Ramen soup was on order.

Day three in Lisbon was a short one.  My friend left her room early and headed out to see the Castel de São Jorge while I slept off my latest dose of cough syrup. Around noon, I took the subway back to the historic center to meet my friend.  We hopped back on the tram heading to Belém.

Time Out Market

First stop, lunch at Time Out Market. The Time Out Market is part traditional market with florists, fruits and vegetables stands, butchers and seafood vendors, but the other half is an extraordinary food hall featuring the city of Lisbon’s best dishes and drinks.

A curated food market, Time Out Market allows visitors to taste the dishes from Lisbon’s most amazing restaurants all in one sitting.  Simply order what you like from a mini-restaurant (or two, or three, or ten) and sit with your friends and new acquaintances at long open seating style tables.

It’s a fantastic place to try the food that makes Lisbon what it is.  We sampled everything from croquettes with goat cheese and carmelized onion to famous Portugese bacalhau à brás to garlic butter shrimp to steak sandwiches to chicken samosas.  Wash it all down with a glass of wine, beer or a cocktail. Everything is amazingly delicious. If it isn’t, it’s not allowed in the Time Out Market.  (We ate here several times).

Stop two, check out the Torre de Belém.  Not far from the other monuments, the Belém Tower was built from 1514-1520 as part of a defense system in the Tagus River. This is another UNESCO heritage site and is a stunning medieval tower standing tall in the water.  After its days defending the city, the tower became a lighthouse and even a customs center. In the tower, you can climb up the tower to view the inside, including a chapel and a gargoyle in the shape of a rhinoceros.  (The first rhino set foot in Portugal in 1513.)  A fee is required to enter the tower itself; or you can view the outside for free.  (Note that this monument, and many of Lisbon’s monuments, are closed on Mondays).

Torre de Belem

Day four is completely lost to much needed sleep, medication and more Ramen.  Several doses of cough medicine and hours of sleep later, I head out to visit Cascais and Sintra.

Day One in Beautiful Lisbon

Paris, you’ll always be my favorite European city, but (cover your ears), Lisbon comes in a very close second.

Paris, you’ll always be my favorite European city, but (cover your ears), Lisbon comes in a very close second.

After a canceled trip a few years ago, I finally made it to Lisbon and it was everything that I’d hoped it would be. More, actually.  I was a little bit worried that I’d built Lisbon up in my mind so much that I might be let down when I arrived.  I’ve been thinking on Lisbon for at least three years…

So, when November came around, it was time to go.  I like to travel internationally in November.  It’s usually less crowded (read fewer lines at restaurants, museums) and you can get pretty good deals on flights and hotels.  If you don’t mind the typical fall drizzle and cooler temperatures, I find November a great month to hop across the pond.

I found the best airfare through Seattle.  A bit odd for a European fare, but in any case, I booked a ticket from Seattle through London Heathrow and then into Lisbon on British Airways for about $750. Two flights from Albuquerque to Seattle, a night at a SEATAC hotel and I was on my way – finally. (If you’re into multiple layovers, you could find airfare for $480).

I hadn’t flown British Airways before and it was fine.  Nine hours in a smaller than anticipated plane, the legroom was less than I expected in my economy seat, but the flying experience to Lisbon went just fine.

Doubletree Fontana Park

I assume I don’t even have to tell you by now, but I stayed, on points collected from work travels, at the Doubletree Fontana Park in Lisbon.  A quick cab ride from the airport, the hotel gets a lot of knocks on TripAdvisor for its decor and room size.  The decor was a bit funky (black walls, black carpet, very industrial), but the building had been an iron factory and the staff here is fantastic.  The reviews on room size, I assume, come from people that have never stayed in a hotel in Europe.  If you’re expecting a grande suite, I suppose you’ll be disappointed.  But in reality, the hotel was safe, clean and comfortable.

The hotel was about a 30 minute walk from the historic sites of Lisbon.  I like to walk so this was just fine by me.  It was also about a 3 minute walk to the nearest Metro station which quickly, cheaply and easily takes you where you want to go. The public transportation in Lisbon is fantastic. More about that later.


Day one in Lisbon:

Sculpture along Avenida da Liberdade

Opting to walk from my hotel that first day down to historic Lisbon and in particular the Praça do Comércio, I kept mentioning to my friend how much the Avenida da Liberdade reminded me of Paris.  (And in truth, maybe that’s why I loved Lisbon in part).  As we learned more about the history of the city, there was something to my Parisian feeling.  Lisbon is an old city (you can still see a Roman aqueduct here), but in 1755 the city was almost completely destroyed by a major earthquake and subsequent fires and a tsunami.  The Marquis of Pombal, or Marques de Pombal, set out to redesign the city of Lisbon. (He’s kind of a big deal in Lisbon for obvious reasons. You’ll see his name and likeness all over. He even has his on Metro stop).  The rebuild of the city of Lisbon is pretty interesting for several scientific reasons, but that large street in Lisbon reminded me of Paris for a reason. It was modeled after the Champs Elysées.

Avenida da Liberdade is a major thoroughfare and it’s lined with shops, restaurants,

Avenida da Liberdade

sidewalk cafes, and outdoor markets. The sidewalks of Lisbon are gorgeous. Now that’s a weird thing to mention, right? Not after you realize that the sidewalks are made of stunning tile mosaics.  You’re literally walking on art.  I stopped to take photos of the sidewalks a lot. The tile work on the sidewalks and in the plazas is amazing. Nowhere more so than in the Praça do Rossio (formally the Praça Dom Pedro IV) where the tile looks like waves. Located in the Baixa, or downtown area, the plaza is a stunning place to sit and people watch or enjoy a pastry.

A note on the tiles before I get back to the pastries. The tile mosaics, while gorgeous, are uneven and when it rains, are very slick.  Here I make my first recommendation to those of you going to Portugal.  Wear good shoes. Wear shoes with good tread and good foot and ankle support.  Leave your fancy heels and cute flats for another trip.  I saw tons of women wearing combat boots, which are back in fashion, and are most probably the best shoe you could wear on these uneven and slippery walks.  A good pair of trainers/sneakers/trail shoes, boots or flats with good tread work too.  (American sportswear was seen all over the city.  Maybe just avoid the all white sneaker trend that screams American on vacation).

Lisbon’s famous pastel de nata

Back to the important stuff.  The Praça do Rossio was where I ate my first pastel de nata. I ate a large quantity of pastéis de nata while in Lisbon and you should, too. They are delicious. A warm custard tart in the flakiest of crusts, you can find these little gems all over the city.  They cost about 1€ and you will see them everywhere.  I tried these tarts at pretty much every bakery I passed by and still ended up losing five pounds on vacation due to all the walking you can do in Lisbon. Eat up!

As we wandered further into the historic city, past shops, restaurants, and street performers, we made our way to the Praça do Comércio or Commerce Square on the Tagus River, the square is incredibly beautiful.  Pre-earthquake, it was the site of the royal palace.  After its remodel, the square had a new importance in housing sites of goverment and economy.   The square today also has a beautiful view of the river, several museums and restaurants, sculpture and an open space where you can take in street performers.  Strangely, my first day there, a man was dressed up as a polar bear.

While at the square, I popped into the Lisboa Story Center, once of several tourist information spots throughout the city where you can purchase a Lisboa Card. I mentioned that the public transportation in Lisbon is easy to use and you can buy a Viva Viagem card to use for public transportation alone.  (The card can be purchased at public transport stations and contains a chip that you scan when you hop on the subway, bus, tram or commuter trains and ferries.  You can continue to load money onto the card.)  The Lisboa Card contains the benefits of the Viva Viagem card plus gets you free or reduced admission into many of the museums and tourist destinations in Lisbon.  The card can be purchased in one, two or three day increments.  It becomes active the first time you scan it.

If you are planning to visit any of the sites and if you are planning to use public transporation to get there, the Lisboa Card was a great value for me.  Public transport is equipped with scanners.  You simply tap your card against the scanner, wait for it to register green and hop on.  Subway, trams, buses, commuter trains and ferries – all included.  Tourist destinations and museums that grant free admission with a Lisboa Card have a similar scan station at the entrance. Simply scan your card and off you go. A three day card was about $50.

After a quick bite to eat on the square and a quick trip to find a bathroom, we decided to hop the tram to Belém to see the sites.  (Plan ahead.  There are not a ton of public toilets in Lisbon.  Restaurants and museums have them for paying customers and you’ll see them designated as WC).

Belém is about 15 minutes by crowded tram or bus from the Praça do Comércio.  You’ll make several stops along the route and the route is crowded as there are many sites popular with visitors to see in Belém.  Mind your bags and wallets. Pickpockets frequent the heavily crowded spots.  In general, I found Lisbon to be very safe but, as with traveling anywhere, you want to be aware of your surroundings.

On the way to Belém, at the Cais do Sodré stop, you will pass the Time Out Market, a truly amazing food hall.  More about that in my next post, but if you’re planning a visit to Lisbon, keep that on your radar.

Igreja de Santa Maria
Igreja de Santa Maria

Our first stop in Belém was the beautiful Igreja de Santa Maria de Belém and the UNESCO heritage site of Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. The Church, Igreja, can be visited for free by visitors. It features soaring ceilings that look like webs and the tombs of explorer, Vasco da Gama, and poet, Luís de Camões. There is no fee, but the number of visitors allowed into the church at one time is monitored.  We waited in a short line for about 10 minutes before being allowed in.  There is a small fee to visit the sacristy of the church which included a number of beautiful paintings and was well worth it.

Just next door, is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos or the Monastery of the Hieronymites.  The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most visually stunning places I’ve had fortune to visit. The monastery sits at the entrance of the harbor of Lisbon on the Tagus River and was built in the 15th Century.  The legacy of exploration and religion are intricately tied together in Lisbon.  This site was commissioned by King Manuel I and was donated to the monks.  In turn, the monks prayed for the King and the seafaring explorers leaving the shores of Portugal.

Structurally the monastery is just gorgeous.  It’s an ornate web of arches in stunning white stone carved in the Manueline style.   I spent more than 2 hours here and couldn’t stop taking photographs.  Every angle was extraordinary.  I couldn’t stop looking at this beautiful place.

There is a fee to visit the monastery. If you purchased a Lisboa Card, your entrance is included.  Simply follow the signs for Lisboa Card and scan your card at the designated station.

Mosteiros dos Jeronimos

If you’re up to it, you can make a short walk across a highway to the Tagus River shore to see another stunning monument, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. The monument celebrates the Portugese explorers from the 15th and 16th Centuries. We forget, but Portugal really led the way in seafaring exploration.  The original monument, erected for the Worlds Fair was established in 1940 but was eventually taken down. The current monument, built out of limestone, was constructed in the 1960s. Yhe massive monument pays homage to Portugal’s great explorers.  There is no charge to view the monument.  You can pay a nominal fee to climb up inside it.  I didn’t climb, but my friend did and reported back that it wasn’t really worth her entrance fee.

Padrao dos Descobrimentos

After touring the monuments, I walked back into Belém to grab a pastel de nata at at 20191113_211644Pastéis de Belém.  The bakery began making the pastries in 1837 using the ancient recipe from the monks down the road at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.  There is usually a healthy line for a pastry to go, but the staff has the ordering and delivering of pastéis down to a science and you’ll be in and out in no time.  You can also queue up in the left hand entrance if you’d rather enjoy your pastry sitting down with a cup of coffee.

On the walk back to the bus stop, I began what is now an obsession with the Portugese tiles that cover many of the older homes in Lisbon: azulejos.  These colorful tiles come in so many patterns it’s hard to believe and they render a sense of charm to the Lisbon city streets.  I’ve got more photos of azulejos than I do of anything else in Lisbon.

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Read more about my 10 day stay in Lisbon!