Day 5: Wednesday, September 13

We overslept again! All of this hiking exercise up and down the 7 Hills (and more) of Lisbon certainly ensures a good sleep at night. We got up sometime after 9:00AM, once again too late to have breakfast in the hotel’s dining room (the dining room closes at 10:00AM), so we went out to Rua Augusta and settled on a place called Goodfellas Italian Cuisine. They offered a great full breakfast in the style of a Full English).

Praça da Figueira

After breakfast we returned to the hotel to prep for the day ahead. Getting our day bags, cameras and supplies we set out, heading to Praça da Figueira. The Praça da Figueira (English: Square of the Fig Tree) is a large square in the centre of Lisbon. It is part of the Baixa, the area of the city rebuilt after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. The Praça da Figueira has a very uniform profile, with four-storey buildings dating from the rebuilding of the Baixa. The buildings are occupied by hotels, cafés, and several shops.

The Praça da Figueira is also an important traffic hub, with bus and Metro stops. It was these transit stops we were in search of. Our destination today is Belém; to reach there we have to take Tram #15. We looked everywhere for Tram 15 but could not find it. We later found out it was not running due to track refurbishment, but we finally found the replacement bus for the journey.

Arriving in Belém

The bus delivered us to our destination: Belém. Belém is a district of Lisbon, located in the western part of the city. Belém is famous for several things: it is a museum district and home to many of the most notable monuments of Lisbon and Portugal, such as the Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (The Monument of the Discoveries), and Belém Palace (official residence of the President of Portugal).

We very much wanted to visit the Jerónimos Monastery as its opulence is supposed to be a sight to behold, but the queue to enter (accompanied by blazing hot sun) was several blocks long and it wasn’t moving, so we gave it a pass:

From what little we could see of the exterior, though, the Monastery looked quite impressive:

Jardim da Praça do Império (Empire Square)

When we first arrived in Belém we wandered into the Jardim da Praça do Império (Empire Square), across the street from the Monastery. It was very peaceful:

Vince bought a couple of cool t-shirts from this vendor

Rosa dos Ventos (Rose Compass)

Outside the The Monument of the Discoveries lies the enormous Rosa dos Ventos (Rose Compass). A compass rose is a figure on a compass, map, nautical chart, or monument used to display the orientation of the cardinal directions (north, east, south, and west) and their intermediate points:

Padrão dos Descobrimentos
(The Monument of the Discoveries)

Padrão dos Descobrimentos (The Monument of the Discoveries) is one of the main attractions of Belém. The monument resides on the northern bank of the Tagus River in Lisbon. Located along the river where ships departed to explore and trade with India and the Orient, the monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries:

Continuing along the riverside we left the Monument behind us. I saw this nod to our home and native land while on the Belém riverfront so I just had to grab a shot. It’s always good to see Canadiana abroad, although the use of “Amerigo” here challenges my Canuck pride:

Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

Another major attraction in Belém is the Belém Tower. The Tower is a 16th-century fortification that served as a point of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. The Tower was built from lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and a four-storey tower. Since 1983, the tower has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Jerónimos Monastery:

We didn’t actually go into the Tower; everyone we spoke to said the same thing: it’s really not worth it and there is next to nothing to see on the inside. I grabbed a few shots of the exterior:

(Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology)

After visiting the Belém Tower and The Monument of the Discoveries, we set out for the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology).

The MAAT has some of the most fascinating architecture in Portugal:

This building had a stunning profile which really spoke to my photographer’s heart. For months I knew we were coming here and I had planned to shoot those gentle curves in black and white:

Have I mentioned the blazing hot sun? As a result of that we were feeling quite spent from the long walk in the heat and several hours in the direct sun. We didn’t explore the interior of the museum (maybe next time), but we stopped for a much-needed rest/drink/recovery in the MAAT’s outdoor café. This was the view from our table:

After our rest break we did the long climb to the rooftop – even that had interesting architecture:

While on the roof I did this 360 degree panorama of Lisbon and the Tagus River:

Having walked our feet off in the Belém heat we were ready to return to home base (i.e. our hotel) to plan the next part of the day’s activity. We found and boarded the number 15E bus which took us back to central Lisbon. The bus was utterly packed and sweaty, so we got off at Praça do Comércio which was close to the hotel and central Lisbon.

An Excellent Meal

It was about 5:00PM at this point and we started to think dinner/food thoughts; we hadn’t eaten since breakfast this morning. In the Praça do Comércio there was a bevy of restaurants, so we walked around looking at the menus of various establishments. We settled on a place called Can The Can – weird name, I know, but utterly fantastic food. (In a pop music sense, I’ve wondered if this resto was named after Suzi Quatro’s 1973 headbanging hit… anyway, I digress).

We each had starter bread, Vince had the house Cheeseburger accompanied by huge potato segments, with two glasses of white wine; I had the Confit Chicken with an Aperol Spritz (my Italian trip earlier this year introduced to this awesome cocktail). Desserts followed for both of us: Vince had an Apple Meringue and I had something called Orange Pie (a citrus pie sweetened with condensed milk, egg yolks, orange juice concentrate, orange zest and lime juice). Vince then had his standard Americano and I, my usual Black Tea. As if that wasn’t enough, the staff brought us liqueurs which were, as they told us, “on the house”. Excellent food and drinks here, very laid back, wonderful outdoor seating. All delicious, all good. This was one of our better meals while in Portugal (in case you haven’t guessed that by now).

If you’d like to read Vince’s TripAdvisor review of Can The Can, click here.

Winding Down

Leaving the restaurant we returned to the general area of our hotel via Rua Augusta. We stopped to browse through a store called Casa Pereira Da Conceicão, an upscale coffee, tea and chocolate vendor at Rua Augusta 102. It was interesting exploring the various exotic products. Vince bought two bars of chocolate (we have to keep our strength up for climbing those Lisbon hills, you know).

At about 7:00PM we returned to the hotel for the evening to rest and catch up on things (journalling, picture editing, etc.). During our travels today it had been brutally hot and sunny, and we finished the day sunburnt, hot and very tired. Off to bed at about 9:00PM tonight.

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