<— First Read Day 1 – Lisbon
An adventure through Lisbon and Belém crazy public transportation, hidden gems, delicious pastries, sun and turistic attractions. What’s more to ask?
Day 2 – Belém
The day started well, looking forward to the day ahead with much positivity. But along the way things didn’t go exactly the way we imagined.
This trip taught us that Lisbon is fantastic… If you manage to avoid public transportation as much as possible.
Day 2 started with the metro which is the only way to go from our hotel to the city centre. While usually it was so full that you cannot even move, this time thankfully it was okay. Naively we thought this was a good sign.
Soon enough we arrive in Praça do Rossio where we should catch the bus for Belèm. We go to the bus stop where many other turists where also waiting. We wait. For a long time. With about half an hour delay, the bus arrives, already pretty full but we are tired to wait so we grab our courage and go in.
Halfway to Belèm, the bus stops in the middle of nowhere and make everybody get out. We understand from the gestures that the road is closed for a huge marathon and the bus cannot reach Belèm. We try to ask how can we get to Belèm and the driver simply indicates a direction with the arm and says “There Belèm, walk!”. Okay, it’s so clear where but thank you. Also, why in the hell nowhere in the city or at the bus stop was mentioned that all the roads where closed for the biggest marathon of Lisbon??
I try to laugh about it to avoid losing my head over it and we start walking, following all the people who got off the bus. Although many where going in different directions, just to make things more confusing. I finally decide to open Google Maps to understand where exactly where. By surprise (shock) we notice that we are about 5 km from Belém. I look at my boyfriend with fear in my eyes and I already feel my legs shaking. After the many kilometers walked the day before, my knee unfortunately started to act up again.
We decided to not follow the other people after all and we tried to take the shorter route according to Google Maps. After a little bit we found ourselves walking under the huge bridge Ponte de 25 Abril in nice hidden streets. My knee is in pain but I suddenly love the fact that we are walking where no turists usually walk. At some point we cross a road with some kind of market, we look at each other and with no hesitation we decided to go take a look. We find ourselves at LXFactory, a fantastic artistic neighborhood with a nice market of artisanal products and local food. I wanted to buy everything! (but I didn’t).
When we go back to our route, I feel that my knee cannot take it anymore so we try to look for any other transportation which could take us a bit further. Thankfully we see a bus stop shortly ahead and we literally took the first bus who came along. For our luck, it was actually going to Belém.
First, we immediately go in the queue to see the beautiful Mosteiro dos Jerònimos. We decided to see only the cloister because there is too much queue for the church. The cloister is absolutely amazing, the detailed architecture is breathtaking and just walking around is so peaceful and inspiring.
After the visit it’s already lunch time so we went in a tiny local tavern we noticed on the way; we ate a nice simple (and cheap) lunch. Not it was time for the treat I was waiting for all this time: Pastéis de Belém or more commonly known as Pastéis de Nata, a tiny crunchy base of pastry filled with delicious custard. In front of the original bakery Pastéis de Belém there is a long queue all day long but it’s well organized so it goes pretty quickly. There is a take away queue or you can sit at the table to taste the Pastéis with the nice Portoguese coffee. You can choose to buy 1, 6 or 50 Pastéis (1.05 €, 6.30 € and 52.50 €). They bake the famous pastry with the same secret recipe from the monastery since 1837 (read the history of the pastry) and they are absolutely delicious.
We sit in a nice garden to enjoy the Pastéis under the warm sun, it’s 23°C, practically July in The Netherlands. After this nice break we go see the Belém Tower, we admired it shortly only from outside, and the Discovery Monument, which celebrated the ships that in the XV century were leaving from this river to explore and trade with India and Orient.
Public Transportations, Part II
We decided to go back to the hotel from the nearest bus stop next to the Belém tower. We waitd for about half an hour for the bus and when we lost all hopes we decided to walk towards the monastery, where there are more buses, hoping to find one. Well, we found one but it soon started to contain 3 times more people than the actual maximum capacity, I was starting to get crushed and couldn’t breathe anymore, I really wanted to cry. But I survived!
Ending the evening
In the hotel we spent about an hour to find on TripAdvisor a nice restaurant which could be fairly close to the city center. After the decision was settled, we went out but after walking more or less 100 metres we look at eachother and decided we really didn’t walk to walk anymore for the day. So we trusted our instincts and entered in a small empty restaurant just where we stopped. Our instincts were wrong. We ask for a seafood rice but instead we get a seafood bland soup with overcooked rice in it. Oh well, we then went back to the hotel and asked our favorite drink at the bar: Ginjinha! We went back to our room and ended the evening drinking the sour cherry liquor and eating the remaining Pastéis.
Now read: Day 3 – Cascais and Sintra——>