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Published: January 31st 2015
Thursday 29th January, 2015. Lisbon, Portugal
We awoke really early so we could get a phone signal to see where and when we had to meet our friend Eva. After several exchanges of texts we arranged to meet Eva at the Casa dos Bicos - our only instructions being to be there at 11 am and to look out for a grey Renault Clio. We found the Casa dos Bicos easily and were early so went into a cafe next door to post our really boring blogs from the first few days at sea. Trena - I have now added some photos!
Lisbon is the capital and largest city in Portugal. It lies on the Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean in the Western Iberian Peninsula. The city is globally recognised because of its importance in finance, commerce, entertainment, arts, education, media, international trade and tourism. It is home to the largest container port on the Atlantic Coast of Europe. The centre of the city is split into 3 main neighbourhoods: the Cidade Biaxa (lower district), the Barrio Alto (high district) and Alfama (oldest district).
We hung around outside of the the Casa dos Bicos until D went
in search of a grey Renault Clio. Turns out Eva was there already but we hadn't seen her. The first thing we did was go to a supermarket to stock up on necessary supplies. Namely nail polish that M had forgotten to pack - she hadn't forgotten the nail polish remover though! Then we went to Eva's lovely flat in Amorerias. We met Benny the dog and Eva kindly tried to find D a tie - this was what he had forgotten to pack! No luck though.
We drove through the city centre and (eventually) after negotiating the one way system headed for the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (monastery of the Hieronymites). This is arguably Portugal's most important monument. It is an opulent church and cloistered garden built in the elegant Manuelian style at the beginning of the 16th century when Portugal was a great sea-going power. This was evidenced in the fantastic carvings on the facade. We took some photos of the outside but did not go in. M tried to get a shot of the wonderful arched entrance but the security guard was much to self important to move out of shot so she took one with him
in it (see photo).
We walked through a lovely park in front of the monastery with an amazing fountain which Eva said had always fascinated her as a child because at night it changed colour as it danced. The park also contained some lovely statues of 4 horses that faced each other from either side with a duck filled watercourse in-between. We crossed the main road by means of an underpass to reach the Padrao dos Descobrimentos ( a monument to the Navigators built by Salazar) but then the heavens opened so we went for lunch in the Nosolo Italia Restaurant which was close by.
After a nice lunch and a catch up we walked the 2 minutes (according to the waiter in the restaurant) but really 10 minutes to the Torre de Belem aka Tower of St Vincent . This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in parish ofSanta Maria de Belem in Lisbon. The fort was an essential part of the defensive system for the mouth of the River Tagus providing crossfire with the fortress of Sao Sebastiao de Caparica on the south bank. It consists of a quadrangular tower reminiscent of the keeps of
medieval castles and a polygonal bastion which is itself a fine example of the periods advanced defensive technology being designed to support heaby artillery with embrasures shaped rather like hatchways reaching almost to sea level. The sentry posts on each corner of the bastion are crowned by melon domes which were influenced by the style of fortifications in Morocco but most of the style is Manueline. It is consturcted of Limestone, Tiles and Wood. It is important for the role it played in the Portugese Maritime Age of Discoveries. It was commissioned by King John II to be part of the defence system for Tagus and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisboa.
Built in early 16th Century. Composed of a Bastion 30 m tall and a 4 storey tower. It was built on an outcrop of Basaltic rocks a short distance from the river bank. It was finished in 1519 . Architect was Francisco de Arruda. and finished under the rule of King Manuel who died in 1524. The castle was named the Castle of St Vincent by the first Captain General of the Castle in honour of the patron saint of Lisbon. In 1571 the tower was strenghtened
and an improved Bastion with several turrets was added. Also at this time the consturction of the Phillippine Barracks began. A rectangular space was consturucted over the Bastion giving the tower the visual profle that it has today. However this was not much good as the tower susrrendered to Spanish Forces in 1580 after only a few hours of battle. After this defeat it served as a prison until 1830. In Tower was added to the 7 wonders of Portugal in July 2007.
We were now fast running out of time so Eva took us back to where she had picked us up. M purchased the now mandatory fridge magnet (too many T-Shirts now!) We had about 20 minutes before the last shuttle so we walked to the Terrerio do Paco which is a magnificent square with an arch called the Arco da Rua Augusta which (believe it or not) through which you can look up Augusta Street! The square was magnificent with lovely architcture.
We took some distant photos of the Cathedral before catching the shuttle back to the ship. Once onboard we went on deck for the sail away. M took some photos of the Ponte
25 De Abril Bridge (formerly the Salazar Bridge) as we sailed back towards the Atlantic Ocean. This is one of Europe's longest suspension bridges, opened in 1966 and renamed in 1974 to mark the date of the revolution. We were finally also able to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer which had finally emerged from the mist.
We sailed past Estoril and Cascais (both of which M and D had visited before) on our way out to the Atlantic Ocean and onwards to Madiera.
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