Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.






Portugal: Day 2

by Kathy 23. March 2011 21:08

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Day 1: Arrival in Lisbon | Day 3: Lisbon: Parque das Nações >>

 

Lisbon: Alfama, Castelo de São Jorge, & Fado

Near our Lisbon apartment were two small shops offering espresso drinks and pastries. Donuts are generally not on our list of breakfast options for the kids at home. However, we don’t carry too many “lists” with us when we travel, especially on our shorter journeys. Genevieve, Sebastian and Ben each selected a hefty chocolate donut this morning:

As for me, I’m a sucker for egg custard pie. Portugal has a reputation for creating out-of-this-world custard tarts. So today I began my quest to discover the “best custard tart in all of Portugal.”  (This one wasn't the winner, but it was still good.)

After breakfast, we hopped on a trolley car to reach the Alfama district, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lisbon.

Sebastian and Genevieve in the trolley:

During the ride, we passed many ornate buildings painted in pastel colors:

The trolley dropped us off in the heart of the Alfama, at a spot with a view of red-tiled rooftops and the River Tejo:


The wall that Ben and the kids were sitting on above was covered in ceramic tiles, as were the facades of many homes in this area:

The Alfama district spreads down the front of a hill that is crowned with Castelo de São Jorge (St. George’s Castle). Here is a photo from the Internet:

(Photo credit here.)

In 1755, the Alfama was one of the few areas of Lisbon left standing after a 9.0 earthquake demolished most of the city. Many of the buildings still retain their original character, oozing with Old World charm.

After a brief pause to pop open our umbrellas against the drizzling rain, we set off uphill to find the castle. The narrow streets twisted around and didn’t always lead where we thought they might. This confusing design was deliberate, as the original road builders wanted to thwart invaders from reaching the castle. Lucky for us, an occasional sign pointed the way:

The castle sits on top of the tallest of Lisbon’s seven hills. Evidence suggests that people started building fortifications here as early as the 2nd century BC. The oldest parts of the existing castle date back to the 6th century AD. The castle changed over the years, as it was occupied by different groups, including the Moors, who were finally driven out by the first king of Portugal in the 12 century AD. Much of the current design dates from medieval times, although only the walls and towers remain.

The exterior castle walls were beautifully restored in the 20th century:

Here I am with Sebastian and Genevieve, on the bridge over the dry moat:

Ben, standing by one of the arrow slits that allowed archers to protect the castle from invasion:

The interior of the castle basically consisted of two large open spaces.

Genevieve, inside:

Looking up at one of the castle towers:

Against one of the side walls, we found stairs that allowed us to climb up and walk around the top, like a castle sentry would have done:

Looking down at the front castle grounds:

The views from the top of the walls were magnificent!



Sebastian, taking a rest:

Back on solid ground, the kids had a blast roaming around the castle grounds, playing and making discoveries.

Sebastian, the cannon master:

Here’s one just the right size!

Riding the “wild” animals:

Finding a dry fountain:

Scoping out walls to climb:


Genevieve and Ben, along the outer wall:

In the distance, crossing over the River Tejo was the 25 de Abril Bridge, built by the same company that constructed the San Francisco Bay Bridge:

Sebastian was intrigued with the scenic telescope:

Ben hoisted him up to get a better view of the bridge:

We found this wonderful hollow tree:

The leaves sprouting off of the top branches indicated that the tree was still thriving:

Sebastian found it to be the perfect hiding spot:

One final rest to soak in the view:

Leaving the castle, we headed down into the lower Alfama area:

I loved the old buildings and the peeling paint:



Within a few minutes, we reached the Lisbon Cathedral, which was built by Portugal’s first king in 1150. With its twin towers and thick stone walls, it had the appearance of a religious fortress:


(Genevieve, Ben and Sebastian are in the doorway above.)

Here are two stained glass windows from the rather austere interior:

And the same two windows, from the outside:

The time was now late afternoon, and our stomachs were rumbling. Our guidebook recommended an Alfama restaurant that was supposed to be superb. There was even a sketched map (which proved to be missing some important details!).  We wandered through the twisty streets, turning here and there. Just when I thought that we were completely lost and would never find our way to the restaurant, we made one last turn, and there it was!  We let out some whoops of excitement.

Here are Genevieve, Sebastian and Ben under the restaurant sign (that read “Santo António de Alfama”):

The food lived up to our high expectations—everything was excellent, especially the fried calimari:

Sebastian and Genevieve were happy:

After lunch, we wanted to catch a trolley back to our apartment. We weren’t quite sure where the trolley stop was, but we knew that we needed to go up the hill to find it. 

A small traffic circle:

We passed by this old fountain that might once have been the water source for local residents:

We had read that some of the homes in the Alfama still don’t have their own plumbing.

Our climb took us to a place near the end of the trolley line. We found the right boarding spot, and waited for a car to arrive:

Back at Praça de Camões, next to our apartment, Sebastian and Genevieve posed at the base of the memorial to Luis de Camões in the middle of the plaza. He was an esteemed 16th century Portuguese poet, and his statue was accompanied by the figures of eight other scientists and authors.


Tonight we wanted to experience some Fado, the main traditional music in Portugal. It generally involves melancholy songs sung with great passion and longing, and deals with sad topics, such as waiting for one’s love to return, unrequited love, or death. The singing is accompanied by guitar music.

We walked through the Bairro Alto neighborhood and found a small, cramped place with a woman belting out music with great gusto:

Fado is taken quite seriously in Portugal, and the audience is expected to be quiet and listen. Unfortunately, in our restaurant tonight, the Fado singer was forced to compete with a large group of German tourists who insisted on talking loudly and laughing among themselves throughout the performance, even after the singer asked them to please show some consideration and be quiet. (I think that she’s giving them the evil eye in the above photo.)

During dinner, I discovered that those scrumptious looking grilled sardines that I had been dying to try were full of tiny bones—lots and lots of them. Moreover, unlike the softer bones found in the smaller, canned sardines, these were too hard to chew and swallow. I did my best, but I definitely did not master the fine art of bone-picking.

We also were learning that in Portuguese restaurants, the bread and other items that the server placed in front of you—things that were normally complimentary in the U.S.—were not free here. For example, four small rolls could show up on your bill as an additional 4 Euros, or a small bowl of olives could be 5 Euros. By the end of this trip, we were experts at just saying “No” and shaking our heads as soon as a server began placing plates of unordered items on our table. Tonight, however, we were novices. And we paid a small price for our inexperience.

All in all, however, it was a fine evening. And by the expression on Sebastian’s face at dinner, I could tell that he was in his groove.

 

Back to Portugal Index Page

Day 1: Arrival in Lisbon | Day 3: Lisbon: Parque das Nações >>

 

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Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

Bhutan
   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Kanglung
   Mongar
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Thimphu
   Tongsa
   Wangdi Phrodrang

Bolivia
   Caranavi
   Guanay
   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Llica
   Potosí
   Queteña
   Rurrenabaque
   Sajama
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sorata
   Sud Lipez
   Tupiza
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

Canada
   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Chetwynd
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Isle-aux-Coudres
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Montreal
   Niagara Falls
   Ottawa
   Quebec City
   Quesnel
   Thousand Islands
   Toronto
   Vancouver
   Vancouver Island
   Victoria
   Watson Lake
   Whistler
   Whitehorse

China
   Beijing
   Datong
   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   HuaShan
   Lijiang
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Xi’an
   Yangshuo
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Quepos
   Sarchi
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves
   Zarcero

France
   Paris

Ecuador
   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Quito
   Yasuní National Park

India
   Bagdogra
   Darjeeling
   Delhi
   Gawahati
   Jaigaon
   Kalimpong

Mexico
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   Crucecita
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Huatulco
   Marietas Islands
   Mazunte
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Patzcuaro
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
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   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Sayulita
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotihuacán
   Teotitlán del Valle
   TzinTzunTzan
   Yagul
   Yelapa

Namibia
   Caprivi
   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Katutura
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisfontein
   Seisriem Camp
   Sossusvlie
   Swakopmund
   Treesleeper Camp
   Twyfeltein
   Windhoek

Peru
   Balsas
   Barranca
   Cajabamba
   Cajamarca
   Caraz
   Cañón del Pato
   Celendín
   Cerro de Pasco
   Chachapoyas
   Cusco
   Huamachuco
   Huánico
   Huaraz
   La Oroya
   Leymebamba
   Llanganuco
   Lima
   Machu Picchu
   Moyobamba
   Nuevo Jaén
   Pallasca
   Pampas
   Tápuc
   Tarapoto
   Tarma
   Tingo Maria
   Tocache
   Yungay Memorial

Portugal
   Burgau
   Coimbra
   Evora
   Lisbon
   Marvao
   Nazare
   Obidos
   Portimao
   Sintra
   Sitio

South Africa
   Johannesburg

Spain
   Barcelona
   Bilbao
   Hondarribia
   Madrid
   Montserrat
   Nerja
   Rock of Gibraltar
   Ronda
   Santillana del Mar
   Tolosa
   Zaragoza

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.


Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin