While our friends headed straight to Morocco, Adam and I wanted to spend a little more time in Lisbon. We’d enjoyed just a glimpse of it last summer and wanted to spend another day in Portuguese culture. We experienced a little sticker shock in the process of getting to Lisbon as TAP Air charged us $37 a bag and split us up.
After arriving at Hotel Star Inn again this summer, we used uber to get to Commerce Square. Sidenote: The hotel has great air conditioning and complimentary breakfast! And it is within walking distance for those long layovers like ours! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay both summers! Our driver, Ivo, told us this was too touristy and we should see Belem, the location of many Portuguese landmarks. Ivo first took us to the Belém Tower built in the early 1500s as part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus River. Belém Tower has served as a prison, then as military quarters, and now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then we visited the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. The monument looks like a caravel, or sailing ship, and aboard the ship were statues of famous Portuguese explorers such as Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan who all took part in discovering new water routes and new land in the Americas for Portugal. In front of the monument lies a map of the world with the routes of these explorers and dates of their voyages.
At this point in our own exploration, we wanted to venture on our own so we said "Tchau" to Ivo. Upon his recommendation, our next stop was at Pastéis de Belém. Much like Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, this place is a tourist haven! Expect a line before sipping coffee and biting into a savory or sweet treat! But do visit!
The Jerónimos Monastery was located next door. Built in the 1500s, this former monastery is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A portion of the building serves as the Maritime Museum but part of it is still a church. When walking in I was surprised to see daily Mass being celebrated. Near the entrance of the church is the tomb of Vasco da Gama himself!!! This history teacher was nerding out!
We meandered along the shore and entertained ourselves people-watching, dog-petting, and taking tons of pictures as the sun set. We enjoyed dinner at the Pizzaria Lisboa. Adam spoiled the resident pigeons to the extent that one followed him as we moved along on our stroll. After dinner we headed back to Commerce Square to find a new refrigerator magnet as ours from last summer fell off the fridge and broke. And also, like last year, we were frequently approached and offered drugs.
We happened upon the tall, outdoor elevator Santa Justa Lift which we somehow missed seeing last year. Lisbon has numerous hills so the lift was designed to connect lower streets to upper streets but has become a tourist attraction providing visitors a pretty view of the city. We didn't take a ride, however, as we’d learned last year the view of the city from St. Jorge's Cathedral was even more fabulous.
Side note: The square was experiencing heavy renovation and construction; we were grateful we saw its beauty last summer.
Our uber driver on the ride back to the hotel was a terrific match for us. He and I sang along with the radio. He whistled and danced around as he shuttled us home. And he reminded me a lot of my grandad. What a feel-good ride!
As we departed Portugal, we grabbed a few more souvenirs. The real score for me was a pair of super lightweight pants for Morocco. I hoped to find something that would be comfy, cool and protect me from the sun, and to be respectfully covered when experiencing the Moroccan culture. As is always my luck, there were none that fit me. The closest I found was a complicated mess – the choice was to wear them with the crotch at the knees or the waist at my shoulders. Either way, I found a couple pairs of appropriate pants. We headed to the airport and were on our way to Casablanca! And just like that we headed to the final country of this 2018 adventure: Morocco!