Yesterday’s tour was a little hectic since there is so much to see in Seville with so little time. Today’s tour was much more leisurely and relaxing. Our tour was named “Lisbon Sights, Sintra, and Cascais”. Pulling into Lisbon early in the morning was an event in itself. Lisbon is not located on the ocean, rather you reach it by sailing up the Tagus River about 7 miles (10 km). Along the way we passed seaside towns and monuments, some of which we would visit on our tour.
Two monuments we saw on the way in and out of the port were interesting. Cristo Rei is a tall statue of Christ with outstretched arms reminiscent of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. The statue dates back to the 1950’s and its construction was in reverence of Portugal’s avoidance of the horrors of WWII. The other monument is called Monument to The Discoveries (Padrão dos Discobrimentos) that shows Henry the Navigator and 32 notable Portuguese. This celebrates the Portuguese age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries. Ships left from Lisbon to explore India and the Orient.
The buildings that line the port area are very picturesque and uniquely European. It was especially fun to eat breakfast and watch the scenery change from ocean to charming buildings.
Our first stop was the city of Sintra. This is a beautiful villa that is a favorite vacation spot for visitors in the area as well as tourists. We arrived on Easter Sunday which would usually mean that everything was closed, but being a tourist center, the shops, cafes and restaurants were open. Again, the buildings were lovely to look at and the atmosphere was both bustling and relaxed since everyone there was on holiday. At the top of the hill was a castle called Castle of the Moors. There was also a palace on the lower level where the bus dropped us off, but we spent our free time wandering the streets, looking into the shops, and stopping for a tasty pastry and a cup of espresso.
From the Sintra town center it was a short drive to a restaurant for lunch. We had salad, olives, beans, bread and wine. The main dish was Bacalhau, cod casserole. Cod is very popular in Portugal and the saying is that there are 100 ways to fix cod. This dish takes cod, potatoes, garlic, onions and cornbread and grinds them together into a slightly grainy mixture. It is baked and served hot. Very tasty. We were surprised to find that cod is not a local fish. The cod eaten in Portugal is mostly imported from Norway. Cod fishing, however, was often done by Portuguese fishermen dating back from the exploration period. The cod was caught, cleaned, and salted all at sea and then shipped back to Portugal.
Our next stop was to the seaside city of Cascais. This was a wonderful small villa that was a favorite vacation spot of royalty. In modern times, there are shops and interesting streets. One way leads to Queen’s Beach which was a favorite spot of royalty and many modern visitors. Again we had some free time to explore and wander before returning to the bus to tour Lisbon.
On the way back to the port in Lisbon we made a few stops for photos. Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) is a former monastery of the order of Saint Jerome but was secularized in 1833 by state decree. The monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture. Famous explorer, Vasco da Gama’s tomb is located in the chapel.
Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) or the Tower of St. Vincent, originated as a fortified tower that formed a defense system guarding the mouth of the Tagus River. A matching tower formerly existed on the opposite shore. These formed a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.
Also near the port our guide pointed out several examples of street art. These two examples are by the artist, Bordalo II, who makes impressive sculptural art pieces from trash. Tomorrow, we are off to another port in Portugal, Porto.