As I write this, I am sitting on one of the three balconies of our room at the Sesimbra Hotel & Spa. Sesimbra is a lovely & very touristy former fishing village, complete with a Moorish castle high above us on a hill AND Forteleza de Santiago, once the summertime retreat of Portuguese royalty. The beach I am looking at is quite turquoise. Lots of Spanish, Italian, German & Portuguese families here, calm waters (non too warm though) — but refreshing since the weather is quite warm.
I believe we last left our heroes early Monday morning. I’ll try to fill you in on the goings on since then,, both great & not so. Major museums are closed on Mondays here so we took a 3 hour walking tour with Lisbon Walks. We met our very knowledgable guide, Margarita, at the Praça Comerica (a very large piazza/plaza) in the Centro of the city.
We learned the history of Lisboa with emphasis on the post 1755 massive earthquake and the Marquês de Pombal who was in charge of rebuilding the city. He, being one of the few who was not a devout Catholic, made sure the Church did not have lots of power and all the rebuilt churches from then are not what you expect from the time and being in a major European city. They are tucked into other buildings with very little to announce their presence with authority. Nancy’s family will be happy to know that we visited both the Dominican and Jesuit churches.
After lunch we just had to have a snack at the Confeitaria Nacional where we sampled the local pastry, Pastel Nata, along some traditional cookies…..
Margarida showed us a bar – must be the world’s smallest – Ginjinha Sem Rival. They serve two beverages: shots of Ginjinha (sour cherry hooch with or without the fruit) & Eduardino (a made up blend of several liquors). These are 1 Euro each for here or take away.
Tuesday was a busy day, too. We did what we tend to do in a new city – hop on hop off busses. The 1st one took us to Belém, 3 miles west of downtown. This was the area the Portuguese navy and other maritime explorers started their world travels. Lots of history here. We climbed 276 stairs to Monument of Discoveries and toured the Belem Tower, Monastery of Jeronimos and The Coach Museum. We took a break & went to the bakery where those yummy pastries mentioned earlier are baked. This place is reputed to make 20,000 a day. It is a 400 seat restaurant and was packed. We also went to the Museu Colecâo Berardo (contemporary ‘art’). I really have to hand it to the guys able to convince museums and collectors to pay $$$$ for their productions, if you can’t say something nice about someone…
Also in this area is an almost duplicate of the Golden Gate Bridge & built by the same firm that did the original. They even have the same paint colour. Several years ago they added a rail deck. Maybe the BART people can do that, too?
Then, it was off to the Oceanario, Europe’s largest aquarium located near Europe’s longest bridge named after Vasco de Gama. We also took a Telecabine (gondola ride) over the Tejos River. Back into town for dinner at a neighborhood restaurant recommended by a friend of Mike. It was terrific. I had the grilled sardines & Nancy had Calamari done in a cream sauce. Better than it sounds. The sardines were tasty which is important as when they came back up the next morning… I was quite ill from them and still recovering.
Wednesday morning was pretty bleak for me. We found a farmacia for Imodium & electrolytes to counter my case of da Gamas revenge. We also picked up our rental car – a Fiat Punto.
Less than an hour later, we arrived in Sesimbra to stay 2 nights at this hotel. I had a dive scheduled for today but moved it back to tomorrow for health issues. Last night there was quite a party at the hotel with a live band making a LOT of noise. I was able to sleep through it but Nancy was not. She thinks its ironic that the last song was ‘All Night Long’ at 12.45.
That about brings you up to date.