Day 7: Friday, September 15

A Day of Trains, Castles and Boats

We were up today at about 8:15AM, showered and went downstairs to the hotel’s dining room for breakfast. Over breakfast we talked about what we’d like to do today. We arrived at a decision that it would be very nice to take a sunset boat cruise down the Rio Tejo (Tagus River).

We finished breakfast, returned to our room to get our day bags, and set out on today’s adventure. We made our way down to Praça do Comércio to the Estação Fluvial Sul e Sueste (The South and Southeast River Station); this is the terminal for the river’s ferry boats, and the place to buy tickets for any of the Tagus River cruises. The different boat touring companies have sales wickets at this station. We booked a sunset river cruise with the FRS line for 6:30PM that evening (we had to be at the dock by 6:10PM for boarding).

Estação de Rossio (Rossio Station)

With our evening cruise booked we made our way to the Estação de Rossio (Rossio Station), as we were curious to see the architecture of this popular station. Rossio is the primary station in Lisbon for the Lisboa-Sintra suburban railway. This railway is important for visitors, as it connects Lisbon to the popular tourist town of Sintra and passes the two stations that serve the Palácio Nacional de Queluz (Queluz National Palace).

Rossio Station is also a magnificent building and a tourist attraction in its own right. The wonderfully ornate exterior of the building was inspired by classical 16th-century Portuguese Manueline architecture. Passengers enter via two horseshoe-shaped archways, while turrets and pinnacles line the roof.

São Jorge Castle (Saint George’s Castle)

From Rossio Station we made our way (way, waaaaaaay) up to São Jorge Castle/Saint George’s Castle (Castelo de São Jorge). We took a winding, meandering path to the Castle. On our way we encountered this outdoor escalator which really helped scale those Lisbon hills leading up to the Castle. It’s unusual to find escalators in Lisbon (at least I thought so during our time there):

São Jorge Castle is still way, waaaaaaay further up the hill…
Alfonso Lopes Vieira (1878-1946)
Afonso Lopes Vieira was a Portuguese poet, one of the major figures of Portuguese Renaissance and Portuguese Modernism.

And still we climbed up, up and up…

Even this little Puss was tired…

We’re getting there… at least the Castle is now within sight at the top of the hill…

It was tempting to avail ourselves of some Ginjinha to help with the journey. Little Ginjinha bars like this one are common in Lisbon; they’re usually scattered throughout the winding, hilly streets.
We passed this little Fado bar on the way up to the Castle. I was struck by how cozy and welcoming it felt.

Nearing the Castle we were greeted by some Portuguese street art:

The Castle gates at last!:

We finally reached the Castle and were greeted by a mob of tourists…

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Getting into the Castle grounds at last! When we first arrived at the Castle there was a massive queue to buy admission tickets and enter. Thanks to a very savvy American woman who told us to skip the queue and buy a “Skip The Line” ticket. We did that and were inside in seconds!

Once inside the Castle, though, there really wasn’t all that much to see…

The views of Lisbon were stunning, though…

There was about a dozen very calm and friendly Peacocks roaming around…

Hey!… don’t be sneakin’ up on me like that…

We spent a couple of hours exploring the Castle, and it was then – surprise! – time to eat 🙂

Lunch Time!

Leaving São Jorge Castle, we began the long climb down (which was much easier than the reverse). Nestled in the steps, twists and turns of the path we came upon a little restaurant called Taberna do Castelo on the Prata do Dia, and stopped for lunch. It was a little hole in the wall, and very old school – the menu was up on the front window. They have no Web or social media presence, but that is not surprising.

It was a great lunch spot, though. Vince had Lasagne with a glass of white wine, and I had the Grilled Pork Chops with Rice and Salad, plus a Coke Zero. Good pasta here but avoid the grilled meat dishes, though (not that great).

Further Roaming

Continuing our journey downwards, we encountered some lovely tiles on a wall:

We then stopped for ice cream (no surprises there) at a place called Il Gelatone, located at Rua Santo António da Sé 1. It was the best gelato of the trip so far.

After dessert coupled with a rest break, we continued on our way. We wandered through the Alfama with the goal of eventually getting back to our hotel in the Baxia:

On the way back to the hotel, Vince bought a T-shirt at a cool T-shirt shop on Rua Nicola. We finally reached our hotel, then rested for a while.

A Sunset Cruise Down The Tagus River

At about 5:30PM we headed back to the Estação Fluvial Sul e Sueste (The South and Southeast River Station), where earlier in the day we had bought tickets for this evening’s sunset cruise on the Tagus River. We reached the waterfront in plenty of time to catch our boat, which departed at 6:30PM from Pontoon 2 on the docks.

The boarding and departure happened right on schedule, and we were off. It was an hour and a half sunset cruise. Unfortunately, as if on queue, the weather turned dark and threatening and it looked like a rainstorm was on the way; thankfully it did not deliver through the evening. The cruise basically followed the route below, taking us to Belém and back.

Our path on the Tagus River sunset cruise:

1. Praça do Comércio 2. Ponte 25 de Abril 3. Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) 4. Padrão dos Descobrimentos 5. Belém Lighthouse 6. Belém Tower 7. Sanctuary of Christ the King 8. Sunset

Here is a video I shot of us cruising along Lisbon’s riverfront. A word of warning: you may need to turn your volume down a bit as there’s a lot of wind noise:

Here’s a video of us travelling underneath the April 25th Bridge:

All in all, it was a good cruise. There were very… um… lively passengers on board during the last half of the cruise. I think the complementary drink affected a lot of them, but it was all good fun:

We returned to the dock at about 8:30 and disembarked. We highly enjoyed that cruise 🙂

Evening Meal

We were not sure where to go for dinner tonight so we though we’d give the dining room in our hotel a try. The hotel restaurant is a sushi restaurant called Tanuki Sushi Augusta. Despite the name it wasn’t all sushi on the menu. It was average fare, though, with their Asian and seafood dishes. Vince had Chow Mein Noodles with Vegetables, and I had the Codfish with fried potatoes.

After finishing our meal we revisited Casa Pereira Da Conceicão, the upscale coffee, tea and chocolate vendor located at Rua Augusta 102, across from our hotel. We were just browsing this time and it was interesting to see the exotic goods on display. On the way out, I marvelled at their replica of Lisbon’s famous Tram 28, created in solid chocolate:

We returned to the hotel at around 9:30PM and relaxed for a while. At about 10:30 we called it a day and went to bed, quite exhausted after another busy and rewarding day in Lisbon.

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