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

Portugal: Day 3

by Kathy 24. March 2011 20:30

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<< Day 2: Lisbon: Alfama, Castelo de São Jorge, & Fado | Day 4: Lisbon: Sintra, via the Mouth of Hell >>


Lisbon: Parque das Nações

Around midnight last night, a bar next to our apartment building had sprung to life with swarms of people coming and going. The loud yelling and revelry had woken me from a deep sleep. My brain was still entangled in a dream, and it took a moment to remember where I was. It was a Saturday night, and a non-stop party continued until almost dawn, punctuated by a few ferocious arguments in the street below our bedroom window. I finally drifted off to sleep again as the sun was rising.

Thankfully, we had settled into a rhythm of sleeping late.

Sebastian, just waking up:

Today was Easter Sunday, so we had our traditional Easter egg hunt.  We are usually on the road every Easter, so Ben and I always bring a small stash of plastic eggs to hide for the kids.  This morning, we had fun finding good spots all around the apartment—tucked into chair cushions, toy containers, and other obvious places.



Genevieve and Sebastian used Ziploc bags for their “Easter baskets”:

After all the eggs had been found, and the shells opened to reveal small treats, we headed out into the beautiful sunshine, leaving our umbrellas behind!

Today our plan was to visit the sprawling Parque das Nações (Park of the Nations) along the river. The park had been the site of the 1998 World Exposition in Lisbon, which had celebrated the 500th anniversary of the first sea voyage from Europe to India by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Several guidebooks had described this area as having an “amusement park,” so our kids were giddy with the anticipation of finding a roller coaster (Genevieve’s favorite) and perhaps some bumper cars (Sebastian’s ride of choice).

I will note at this point that the Parque das Nações did not have an “amusement park.” Sebastian and Genevieve (then ages 5 and 8) did not take this news lightly. While there were no temper tantrums or tears, there was an almost visible deflation of spirits, as if someone had let the air out of their little balloons. This was primarily my fault, as I had stressed the “amusement park” aspect with great enthusiasm when describing our plans for today—a definite case of “oversell.”

Still, even without a traditional “amusement park,” the Parque das Nações had many entertaining features that we thoroughly enjoyed.

Our first stop was in front of a large tiled sculpture—a wavy shimmer of ocean colors:

Next, the children were drawn to a large globe that was floating on a base with water. The children could push against the globe and rotate it upside down and all around:

The globe was outside the Interactive Science Museum, which is supposed to have many hands-on exhibits featuring the latest technology. We opted not to buy tickets for the museum, however, as we had just started our futile search for the nonexistent “amusement park.” (As I write this, almost 3 years later, I know that our choices now would be completely opposite—we would choose to visit the science museum over any amusement park. But back then, we were still relatively new to traveling as a family, and figuring things out as parents. Some things can only be learned through experience—the hard way.)

The park also contained the Oceanário, the second largest aquarium in the world, with sea otters and other creatures.    

The scuba diver in front of the Oceanário was fascinating:


The park offered lots of open spaces for the kids to run and play. One large field had been sculpted with concentric circles, like ripples on a pond after something is dropped into the water:

A cable car stretched from one section of the park to another, dangling over the water’s edge.

Sebastian and Genevieve, getting ready for take-off:

Up, up and away!

Flying high:

Straight ahead, we could see the round observation deck and curved steel “sail” on the Torre Vasco da Gama (Vasco da Gama Tower); at 476 feet, it is the tallest building in Lisbon.

To the right of the tower, were the triangular cable patterns of the Vasco de Gama Bridge, the longest bridge in Europe.  Its 11 mile length had required the construction engineers to factor in the curvature of the earth when building the bridge across the water.  It opened in 1998, just in time to bring people across the river to the World’s Exposition.

After exiting the cable car, we continued walking (still looking for that “amusement park”) and found a garden area with dirt paths curving and zigzagging among a wide variety of plants:

We also discovered an area that had water flowing out of seven horizontal pipes; as the water hit a metal shelf underneath, it splattered up and provided a gentle spray on whoever was passing by.

Genevieve and Sebastian thought the light dousing was a hoot, and they ran by the water again and again:


One of my favorite parts of the park was a musical playground, which had large instruments for kids to play.

Sebastian experimented with various sounds and rhythms.

He tapped a beat on the small gongs . . .


. . . the triangles . . .

. . . and the giant xylophone:

He was fascinated with a small platform on which he could create different musical tones by jumping and landing on one or more squares.

While Sebastian played music, Genevieve walked along the top of the nearby wall, with a little help from Ben:

Two thumbs-up for piggy-back rides!

Next to the musical playground was a long water fountain with some skinny-dipping sculptures that made me laugh:


(Life is so much more wonderful with the presence of art!)

Walking onward, we reached a vast cement plaza with the sculpture that we nicknamed “The Spiky Space Alien.”

The actual title was “Sun Man.” It was created by artist Jorge Vieira for the 1998 World Expo.

Near “Sun Man” was a large building that was the Vasco da Gama shopping mall. We peeked inside just in case it held an indoor amusement park.  Nope.  We just saw rows of stores.

Back outside, we came across these long black tubes, raised off the ground:

After seeing a local boy disappear through one end, Genevieve and Sebastian decided the tubes must be secret tunnel jungle gyms:


Pedal-karts were available for rent by the water’s edge, so the kids tried them out:


Genevieve’s legs were a big long for the pedal-kart, so she switched to a bicycle:

Here is Sebastian, deftly maneuvering around the pedestrian traffic:

Before leaving the park, Sebastian and Genevieve met this character:

We called him the “Portuguese Doughboy”.  (We thought that he might have been a welcoming figure for the ’98 World Expo, but we could’t find any information about him.)

While we waited for a taxi to arrive, Genevieve and Sebastian played on a mound of lush grass:

We had the taxi drop us off at a shopping center, not too far away.  This one actually had a small amusement park on the top floor; I had read about it while planning our trip.

Genevieve got to ride her roller coaster--she’s in the second seat from the back:

And Sebastian drove some bumper cars with Ben by his side:

After the crazy energy of the mall, and our long day at the park, we were ready for a quiet evening.  

Back in the Bairro Alto district near our apartment, we wandered through the streets and happened upon an excellent restaurant—delicious food, attentive service, and a very peaceful atmosphere. It was the perfect ending to our day.

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<< Day 2: Lisbon: Alfama, Castelo de São Jorge, & Fado | Day 4: Lisbon: Sintra, via the Mouth of Hell >>

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

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


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


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

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