Day 30: July 28, 2009
Amy and I heard there was a massive market across town, so we started to make our way. Our budget was pretty shot from Spain, so instead “splurging” and taking the bus, we walked! Amy and I learned a wonderful traveling and life lesson: Everything is in walking distance; it’s just a matter of how much time you have!
After getting way too distracted with the shops along the way, we gave up our quest for the market and headed to the Castle of Saint George. This castle, dating back to the medieval times, is located on the top of the highest hill in the city. I always love walking through castles, imaging kings, queens, princesses, and princes…dungeons, sieges, and fiery dragons! (Ok, well maybe my imagination replaces reality, but that’s not such a bad thing, eh?!)
After our tour of the castle’s cathedral and excavated ruins, Amy and I made our way across town to visit St. Jeronimos Monastery. Apparently it is classified by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site! The monastery (construction began in 1502) is absolutely breathtaking! The tall towers, detailed gables, figures, and pinnacles had Amy and I standing in amazement. Fact: On December 13, 2007, the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in this monastery, which apparently laid down a front foundation for the reform of the European Union. Travel Tip: show your student ID and get in FREE!
To conclude our sightseeing of Portugal, we visited the Belém Tower and learned the tower was built in the early 16th century to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s expedition. (His ship was one of the first to sail directly from Europe to India!)
For dinner, we still could not find a traditional restaurant (one of my biggest disappointments of the trip!). So we settled for some pasta in the center of town (Praça do Comércio), with the Arch standing brilliantly in the background. Oh, and the musician playing his guitar, signing, playing the harmonica, and tapping his foot on a tambourine entertained us throughout dinner. Occasionally, the cool wind would blow a salty breeze from the Portugal Bay, only beckoning us to soak Lisbon’s unique city up. Ahhhh.