Lisbon Day Trip

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February 14th 2007
Published: February 25th 2007
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Jason and I finally made it to Lisbon for the first time (after six months in Portugal!) a couple of weekends ago. We took a day trip, as it’s only a two hour train ride from Coimbra, and we hit some of the major highlights. We spent the morning walking through the quaint Alfama neighborhood, which has winding streets and buildings covered in colorful tiles. Near the top of the hill is the old city castle, built originally in the 5th century by the Visigoths and altered by the Moors and the Christians as control over the city switched hands over the centuries. Nowadays the castle is more or less in ruins, and the parts that are not have mostly been restored, but because it is up so high it has a great view over the city. After seeing the castle, we wound our way down to the downtown Baixa area, where we had a fabulous lunch of arroz de marisco (shellfish rice).

We spent the afternoon in the Belem neighborhood, which has several important sights related to the discoveries in the 1500s. The first is the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, a monastery built during the 16th century to commemorate Vasco da Gama finding a sea route to India. After the monastery, we stopped for a break at the cafe known for making the famous pastel de Belem, a custard pastry. According to the story, the recipe for the pastry was developed by nuns at the monastery in the 1800s and sold to this cafe when the monastery needed money. We also saw the Tower of Belem, a monument to the discoveries that was built in 1515. We decided not to go inside this time, but enjoyed the view of it from the surrounding park.

- Lindsay

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