Lisbon Tour – Part 3. By Mareni Pichler

by Susannah Grant posted on 18 November 2015

Everyone, this is Mareni’s final post for her Lisbon visit. It’s longer than the other ones but she she has included so much fabulous information, I felt it important to include everything. I for one definitely want to visit this city!! Thank you Mareni!

From my last trip I remembered to go to the Fabrica dos Pastéis de Belém to taste a very special and famous Pastéis de Nata called the Pastéis de Belém (the recipe was invented in the 1800’s by monks. The main ingredients are milk, sugar and eggs. The recipe is a secret well kept and the bakers who manufacture the pastries may not divulge it.)

We take the train back to town (pass under the famous Bridge 25 of Abril) that looks a bit like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and head back to our hotel to rest a bit and enjoy the view over the river with the beautiful light fading slowly.

In the evening we go back to the Bairro Alto and take the Metro to Baixa/Chiado exit Largo do Chiado to avoid having to go up the steep streets of this neighbourhood.

In the Rua das Flores (side street of the Luís de Camões Square) we go to a Bar/Restaurant called “By the Wine”, http://www.jmf.pt/index.php?id=381 in a vaulted place decorated with green bottles (above) and with white wine and rosé bottles behind the very long bar. The decoration is original and the illumination creates a spectacular atmosphere. You cannot fail to notice that the place is founded by José Maria Fonseca, because his name is everywhere even on the T-Shirt of all the waiters. Since we only want to have some petiscos (tapas), we sit at the bar, are attended by friendly waiters and are having a good time.  First we are being served very thin toasted bread with two kinds of olive oil, tomate rallado and olives. Then we have our first Lisbon ceviche (of salmon) and quesadillas with cheese and chorizo together with a glass (copa) of white wine.

Since we are not so hungry anymore this is just enough for us. We walk down to the famous huge Commerce Square – Praça do Comércio, better known as Terreiro do Paço – which we had not properly seen yet  — and look at the dark river. From here we take a bus home as the full day leaves us very tired!!

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Third day – Thursday, 8th October 2015

There is again a beautiful sunrise and in the morning we head straight to the Museum (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga http://www.museudearteantiga.pt/english)

We pass by the Casa dos Bicos (Casa Saramago – the Nobel laureate) but just see it from the bus.

On Corpo Santo (a small square between Cais do Sodré and Praça do Comércio) we take the second bus 714 that takes us through the beautiful Santos district towards the Rua das Janelas Verdes and Rua Presidente Arriaga.

Here is a beautiful palace where the museum is located. From the steps leading to the entrance of the museum there is a fantastic view over the river and the bridge and the other side of the river with the Cristo Rei. This view can also be enjoyed from the very pleasant rose garden and cafeteria of the museum. There is also a very old vast acacia tree right in front of the museum. It is absolutely spectacular.

But first our visit to the MNAA: there is a very original painting by Fray Carlos of an Anunciação . The angel is slightly behind the virgin and in a dancing pose. It seems that he is flirting with Maria.  Maria who had been praying before her little altar turns toward him but looks down and seems to say with her right hand: “Mein Herzerl ist klein darf niemand hinein, nur du mein liebes Jesulein.”

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There is also a beautiful Greek torso of a young man… strikingly displayed before a dark background!

In all Portuguese museums you can find beautiful ceramics, which I do love in particular! Since we want to go back to the Rua Pedro V we take two buses there – and it takes us ages!! Fortunately the street in Santos where we have to wait (President Arriaga) is very nice and there are buildings in all kinds of different colours, pink, light blue, yellow and a lovely baroque church …

At 12:30 we are finally in Rua Pedro V : it is on top of one of the seven hills of Lisbon and an emblematic street of Lisbon in the Principe Real neighbourhood. Throughout the town you have beautiful early 20th century Quiosques that sell refreshments and often have some tables around it where you can sit down and rest. There is another nice one at Largo de Luís de Camões by the way at the end of Rua Garrett.

All the buildings in this street are quite beautiful. There is a white one with wrought iron slim balconies painted in dark blue with a violet hue, which is repeated around the windows. There a lots of nice fashion boutiques with quite original clothes and shoes (I bought a beautiful Indian jacket in “LostIn”).

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There is also an antique shop Solar specializing in “azulejos” and ceramics – from the 15th century onwards – really worth seeing. The buildings with the par numbers have a spectacular view over the city – similar to the near by Miradouro de S. Pedro de Alcântara.  There is however lots of construction there so some little houses with nice terraces will soon lose their beautiful view.

Finally we go back to where we want to eat: A Cevichería by Kiko Martins. No reservation can be made so we wait a little with a glass of white wine outside. Since the temperature is perfect we enjoy that. The restaurant only seats 10 people at tables and 8 more at the bar. We get two seats at the bar and can observe how all the dishes are prepared. We take a menu de degustación and just love it. The “Pure” Ceviche does not have any coriander but wakame seaweed and to counter the acidity a mousse of sweet potatoes and sweet potato chips. It is delicious!! In a blog, the experience is very well described: www.flavorsandsenses.com/en/a-cevicheria/  also fantastic: the “Quinoto do Mar”, Quinoa, prawn, pomfret (Pampo), cockle, mussels, seaweed and oyster foam.

Afterwards we walk down again to take the Cable Car (in Portuguese Eléctrico) 28 at the Largo do Chiado in the direction of the Cathedral “Sé”.  There is a lot of traffic and we have a very patient chauffeur of the cable car. He tries for various minutes to continue the journey uphill. The challenge is that the cable car is packed with people and the road is very steep and all the time somebody – either a pedestrian or a car – is not respecting the right of way and jumping /driving in front of the cable car so it cannot get off. All the cars are honking their horns – but the driver keeps calm and we don’t mind because we have a nice seat and open windows where we can observe everything.

Before visiting the Cathedral, we continue two stations past the and get off at Miradouro Santa Lúcia and then walk up to the Castle São Jorge – however we do not enter (probably we should have) and walk down again to the Cathedral. Since it is in the afternoon the sunlight shines through the wonderful Rosette over the entrance. Otherwise it is dark and mystic. Below the rosette is a beautiful oriental carpet. There is also a chapel to the left with old gothic windows and perfect small proportions.  In a different chapel we see a Ceramics Picture in blue and white depicting Santo António preaching to the fish – all the fish have their heads out of the water listening to the saint – it is very quaint!

We light some candles and are so grateful to be here together in this beautiful city!!

Right next to the there is a small perfectly proportioned baroque church built where Santo António was born. There are many people praying and we are very happy to have stumbled across it.  As you might know Santo António also came to Madrid (San Antonio de la Florida) and Goya painted this event in the magnificent frescoes in the chapel there.

It is around 5:30 pm now and we are very tired and wonder where to sit down for a drink. It is too early for the sunset so we go to the Pastelaria Suiça again (walking through the pedestrian zone of Rua Augusta with lots of other tourists). Rua Augusta leads from the Commerce Square to the Plaza de Pedro IV. This is in the flat area of Lisbon that was rebuilt according to the urbanite (rectilinear) plans of the Marquês de Pombal after the earthquake in 1755.

We have a nice spot on its terrace where there is still sunlight with a nice view of the square and the upper city (and the bare arches of the Igreja do Carmo). Since it is our last evening we do not go back to the hotel but decide to go up to the Chiado again (this time in the cable car).

Near the Largo Luís de Camões there is a Pastelaria called Manteigaria, 2 da Rua do Loreto, where there is a long line of people queuing up for fresh Pastéis de Nata. After a new batch comes out of the oven the girl working there goes out and rings a bell to alert everyone that the pastries are now super fresh. Of course I have a taste and they are very good — crunchy and delicious!! Baking pastéis de nata (egg custard tarts) really is rocket science in Lisbon. But this born-again butter factory gets it just right – crisp tarts that flake just so, are filled with luscious cream and served with good strong coffee and smiles at this bright, modern café.

We find a beautiful little street called Rua das Chagas, at the end is a very quiet corner with a small baroque church (Chagas) and private houses with their terraces with spectacular views onto the River Tagus (unfortunately they did not invite us in – it would have been perfect to enjoy the sunset).

In a parallel street going down from the Largo do Chiado, we aim for a bar that is recommended both by locals and in all the articles we read about Lisbon – it is the Mini Bar http://www.joseavillez.pt/es/mini-bar. Since we do not have a reservation we sit down in very comfy chairs in the entrance area and have a perfect view of all the chic people coming in. The service is very friendly and knowledgeable and we have some delicious tapas and a beautiful red wine from the Douro. We have a very relaxed and comfortable evening there.

Last day Friday, 9 October 2015

We check out of the hotel and leave with our luggage and go straight to the Gulbenkian Museum http://museu.gulbenkian.pt/Museu/pt/Colecao to be there at 10 am sharp (near Metro Station S. Sebastião). The collection there is absolutely breathtaking. Beautifully arranged in a modern museum in a huge peaceful garden!! The (mostly Persian, Turk, Japanese and Chinese in origin but including some European) ceramics, glassware and carpets are spectacular!! The paintings are also very nice, a beautiful Rubens and Rembrandt and English portraits … and an exquisite Lalique collection!!

My friend has to leave for Luxembourg at this point and takes the Metro from there directly to the airport and I have time to go back to town and meet my friend Nicoletta (whom I know from Vienna and Berne) and we have a coffee on a beautiful terrace in the sixth floor of a hotel in the Luís de Camões Square. http://www.bairroaltohotel.com/en/terrace-bairro-alto-lisbon. This is a perfect way to say good-bye to this great city and I hope to come back soon!!

Mareni Pichler