Last tour of Lisbon- Belèm
We woke up around 9 am. We still had another 3hours to kill before checking out the room, and since we wanted to visit Belèm in the southwest of Lisbon we decided to leave early and do as much as we could before catching our flight.
David (the hotel receptionist) kindly agreed to keep our bags while we went out.
We stopped for breakfast at a little café.
No matter where you travel to, the art of taking your coffee is probably as important as the art of making it. The Portuguese like their Italian counterpart seems to appreciate their coffee black, short and strong. Expresso is very popular so whenever we asked for an Americano or a bit of milk, we got few ironical smile and often just a double Expresso rather than a real Americano.
As we walked towards (and under) the Arco da Victoria -the entrance into the main plaza that faces the riverfront of the Rio Tejo (river Tejo)- Tom and I thought that it was an absolute gem of architecture and dare I say it, it is much more prettier than L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.
We walked along the riverfront all the way to the station Cais de Sodré where we took the train, a 20-25min ride to Belèm.
We strolled around and did a bit of sightseeing. At this point we were pretty much in tourist mode, I usually don’t like that feeling of “being a tourist” and on that day I think I was far from my state of mind of relaxation because we were simply trying to kill time until our flight departure. It did feel like we were just trying to squeeze in the “Lisbon must see” bits and bobs.
We stopped at the Jerónimos Monastery and Church of Santa Maria de Belèm.
I actually liked that place because of the creepy, ostentatious depiction of the chronology of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The little (that’s a euphemism) alcove that portrayed the scenery reminded me of a giant triptych and I found myself wishing that the walls and pillars could fold on themselves.
We went on to see the Torre de Belèm which I also liked. It’s like a mini castle on a mini island. Something that fairytales are made of (I am a huge, huge fairy tale enthusiast)
Me taking a picture of Tom…
While Tom took one right back at me.
From the tower, we walked all the way to Monument to the Discoveries. Another beautiful piece of architecture! The characters are splendidly carved and extremely well preserved.
By the time we were done, time was ticking and we began to feel a little stress. (Still we stopped to take more pics.)
The walk from the station to the sightseeing spots was rather quick, or so it felt that way, but the walk back felt like ages!! And we made it just as the train arrived. (We would be in trouble had we missed it)we made it onto the train!
BUT clearly we weren’t’ too focus that day. We missed our stopped by two stations and had to walk from Alameda back to Anjos to pick up our bags at the hotel. Time was running away from us, but we were still grabbing it by the tail.
We arrived at the airport at a decent time, checked in our bags and then mistakingly took a shuttle bus to the inland departure flights. We had to rush back to the international departure gates and still managed to squeeze in a “dirty burger” (McDonalds) before getting on the plane 🙂
Ate Logo Portugal, Boa Tarde Sal!
The 3 hours flight to Cape Verde from Lisbon was rather exhausting. I experienced my first flight meal which was awful and felt like a joke, so I was more amused than upset in truth.
I slept most of the trip and read when I woke.
It was nice to hear other passenger speak in Kriolo (creole from Cape Verde) Despite having been brought up with a strong Cape Verdean culture, I only speak my mother’s tongue when I’m at home or with family. And living in England, I’ve never experienced a moment of being surrounded and interacting with other Cape Verdean people.
Here I was about to embark on a journey to discover “where it all began” for my family, about to find a deeper sense of what my roots are. A slight sense of anxiety crept up on me but I was ready. I felt ready and glad I was doing this trip with Tom.
And this is said in retrospect but I could not have dreamed of a better partner to do this with.
We landed in Sal in the early hours of the evening. A light rain was spitting and a warm breeze wrapped us up in the scent of the holiday.
After getting through the gates we hopped in a cab towards the town of Santa Maria. Tom was a bit suspicious of the price when the driver whispered to him how much it would cost but it was indeed the normal fare.
I tend to overlook this kind of things and not really argue prices, but I’m glad Tom is rather the opposite of me on that. It would, later on, prove to be extremely useful to keep us from some cheeky people trying to take advantage of us.
We arrived at the apartment complex we would be staying in and were received by the concierge. We had to make a call to the actual owner, via whom the booking was made, to request details of the room. After the man spoke to the concierge on our phone, we were handed the keys and even had a little tour of the complex which had a rooftop swimming pool. The naughty girl in me was filled with excitement already but we were too tired and hungry and went for a wonder in town looking for a place to eat.
We don’t have any pictures of our first evening in Sal nor did we wonder far enough for me to tell you anything exciting about our first night in Cape Verde.
The town of Santa Maria is very much a holiday resort. It didn’t feel like this place will give us a true sense of Cape Verde, its culture and its people.
That evening we sat at a little street restaurant, ordered a plate of seafood- octopus it was if I recall properly- and some chips that we shared with a glass of wine and few beers while a group of men played life traditional music for the customers. It was a lovely evening indeed.
We then headed back to our apartment and fell asleep, hoping to squeeze a few fun activities tomorrow before our flight to Sao Vicente Island in the afternoon.