Belém is windy.
The blue skies had deceived us, making us think we would be strolling along the harbour with the warm breeze in our hair. Instead, picture five windswept women who were blinded briefly by strands of hair in our faces and hands gripping different pieces of clothing to protect our modesty.
Aside from the weather (can’t complain about the sunshine!) our main point of call was visiting monument Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a 54m high concrete statue commemorating the 500th anniversary of Henry the Navigator’s death. It’s in all the guide books but I hadn’t envisioned the actual scale of it – it’s huge.
There’s an exhibition space inside and a lift to the top, and in this particular case a shelter from the wind. A slight breeze welcomed us when we reached the top and we all went separate ways to admire the 360 degree view of Belém.
Tourists looked like tiny ants down below.
We braved it back to the bottom of the monument and prepared ourselves again for the blusterous weather. But first, coffee.
Nosolo Italia is a modern Italian restaurant offering a wide variety of Italian dishes and of course gelato, with a pretty cool view to go with it.
Perked up with caffeine, we set on the path again to explore further. Encountering a pretty park and beyond, Torre de Belém.
Once in a while you take a snap that happens to make you smile more than others, and this is one of those. Between the Moorish tower in the background and beautiful blossom in the foreground, you can also spot four of my favourite ladies admiring the delicately arched windows and balconies. Co-ordinated in prints too, that’s true friendship!
I had my eyes set on discovering the stunning Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, one of Portugal’s most successful architectural achievements.
A short walk in the sunshine brought us to this UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s even more captivating close up! With a beautiful green garden and a fountain feature to welcome you, everything was looking grand.
Breathtaking details against the blue backdrop of the sky, I was fascinated by it’s beauty.
It was getting late in the day so home-time was occurring, but not before sampling Portugal’s famous egg tart treat from Pastéis de Belém.
And what a treat it was…
Topped with sprinkles of vanilla and cinnamon, the mouth-watering warm pastries were devoured within a few steps of leaving the bakery – the perfect sweet snack whilst we waited for the tram to take us home. It’s easy to see why it’s such a hot spot for tourist and locals, but if you do take a visit be prepared to wait a few minutes to get served – I promise you, it’s worth the wait!
Back to Bairro Alto and up the steep streets once more, we landed back at our apartment for a change of clothes, a quick freshen up and a much needed glass of vino.
Glammed up and ready to go, we hit the cobbles and headed for the local bars. With A and myself both braving it with our wedged heels, we took a little longer than the others to climb the steps up and down to our destination. You can take the girl out of England…
Live music and a lively atmosphere makes it a great restaurant to visit, whether you are with friends, family or work colleagues. A vast number of wines to choose from, we opted for a bottle of red, and a menu you could peruse for hours – if you’re indecisive like me.
The two vegetarians of the group shared two plates whilst the three meat eaters ordered three courses to share. My favourite dish had to be the Tuna with sweet potato mash, yum yum yum!
More vino and a glass of port (or at least I think it was…) later, it was pudding time. We were in chocolate heaven – a melt in the middle sponge with oozing chocolate sauce and a rich chocolate torte slice – Lisbon take dessert seriously.
We cheered a couple of times to friendship and our day of sightseeing, and before you knew it we were the last table in the restaurant. A sign of a great evening with fab company…