02 November 2008

Adeus a Lisboa

We were met once again with a delicious breakfast on Sunday morning. Well, if I were being picky (and I usually am), I would probably say that the Saturday morning breakfast was slightly more awesome, because on Sunday morning there was no apple jam or mushrooms (the lack of mushrooms was probably for the best, though, as they were seasoned heavily with garlic).
But I digress. We headed out to the Metro, taking 20 or 30 minutes to get everyone hooked up with an all-day transportation pass, and proceeded to ride it for two stops before exiting at Restauradores. Then we had to catch our next form of transportation- not the quaint little trolleys that Lisboa is famous for, but a stretch tram, which was good because there were like 30 or 40 of us in this group, and it was still a tight squeeze. And there was no a/c. And we were on this tram for maybe a half hour. Maybe more. Some people's pockets got picked. Some people just got really sweaty. I might have been one of those people. Not attractive.

Our destination was the monastery of the Jeronimos, an order begun by St. Jerome. The story about him is that one day he saw a lion with a thorn in its paw, and even though everyone else was like, "You're crazy, don't go near that lion," he did, and he took the thorn out of its paw, and the lion was so grateful that it pretty much protected him forever.

The monastery was a spectacular white structure, with a cathedral or church connected to a cloister and dorms and halls and everything. The cloister was especially amazing, as it was two levels, and had a fountain in the courtyard. There were also gargoyles, and carvings of people and dragons. You can also see Portuguese water dogs carved into the stones.

After that we were free to get lunch and explore the area. This specific area of Lisboa was Belem, the Portuguese name for Bethlehem. We walked across the street and over to the waterfront, sitting in the shade of the Monument to the Discoverers and watching yachts and sailboats on the river. Nearby was the April 25th bridge, which was built by the same firm that constructed the Golden Gate Bridge, in the same style. It was very lovely.
Then it was off for lunch. I am ashamed to say that I had McDonalds for the first (and hopefully only) time since I've arrived in Europe. A fruit and yogurt parfait plus a diet Coke. Embarrassing.
We had to be meet at the monastery at 1:45, and our group was actually the only one to arrive on time. I'm glad we did get there early, though, because our guides had bought us the famous Belem pastries to try- they are like little custard tarts on which you are supposed to sprinkle powdered sugar and cinnamon. Everyone got one, and then there were a few left over, and our group converged and decided that we should all get seconds. So we did.
Then it was back on the packed tram, and I began to regret that second pastry almost immediately.
We got our bags from the hotel and loaded onto the bus. There were a few minutes to spare before we had to depart for the airport, and in that time we watched a Formula One exhibition occurring right outside our hotel (I totally don't get Formula One, but it's supposed to be a big deal I guess). Then we took off for the airport, watched one of the Die Hard movies dubbed in Portuguese, and had Pizza Hut (it was too good!). And eventually we made it back here to Madrid.
So what else is new. . . hmm, well this is apparently the coldest October and November on record for Madrid, so that's nice. I find the cold by itself to be refreshing, but when there's rain with it, it's just miserable. And there's been a lot of rain.
Saw a play Thursday night- Bodas de Sangre by Federico Garcia Lorca. It was very stylized but very interesting, and I enjoyed it very much. One of the actors was so good-looking (even with a Michael Jackson-esque fake nose and white face paint) that I realized that it is imperative that I get a Spanish boyfriend. I'll let you know how that goes.

1 comment:

Uncle Dave said...

What a great trip to Portugal. The places you visited and the coastline in particular, must have been amazing. Great pictures, too.