Mediterranean Odyssey 2019 travel blog

Lunchtime view

Henry the Navigator



We had a relaxed start today - leaving about 11 from the apartment and walking through the Bairro Alto backstreets and down to the Metro. We quickly mastered the system - each line is a colour ( and you can work them out even if you don’t know Portuguese). On the train, they show the next stop, and if it connects to another coloured line. The only problem for J and C are the steps - lots of them. Sometimes there are escalators, and sometimes they aren’t working.

We went via the green and red lines to the Oriente station - this is where the Porto train leaves from. It’s a very modern station with lots of fancy concrete arches and glass floors. We finally found a cheerful ticket person ( the first one just grumped at J - he wanted to know what number ticket office we needed and he didn’t leave till grumpy told him! It only took 5 mins to book the train and get our seats ( the tickets J bought online were open tickets so we needed to book for a specific day/time and seat).

Then back on the red, yellow and blue lines to the waterfront (Targus river) at the Praca do Comercio with the statue of King Jose 1 on his horse crushing snakes. The square is location of the Ribiera Palace that was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake and tidal wave. We walked all around, and down to the waters edge - there is a small beach here too. There are many restaurants surrounding the square, and as it was now lunch time we grabbed a shady table with a view. The concierge ushered us to a table near the front , “away from the smokers” - she must have been a mind reader!

We had a small selection of snacks - cod cakes, veal croquettes, fries, and crumbed baby squid. J was surprised to find the squid were only about 20-25mm long. With a large glass of ginger beer, J and C had a pleasant meal. Before leaving, J put a little more sunscreen on. The waitress came with the card machine, and spoke to the people at the next table. They told her (in Portuguese) that they could smell the beach ( ie the sunscreen!) Actually, the sunscreen smells very fruity!

We gradually made our way further along the waterfront looking for a rail station, as J thought a trip to Belém would be worthwhile, and he wasn’t walking all the way. Shortly we reached the station, and a train was waiting. No seats unfortunately, but we only had to go 3 stops. By now the sun was baking hot. (Probably only 26-28, but it felt hotter). We started walking up the rivers edge and luckily found some cafes - so we stopped for a cold drink. J asked the lady waitress if she had shandies, and she replied “ with white wine?” J told her that beer and lemonade would be better. All was good and she told C that if it was too strong, she would add more lemonade. C forced J to have another custard tart for afternoon tea!

We walked along a bit further to view the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (monument to the discoveries). This is a huge statue built in 1940 and made permanent in 1960 to mark 500 years since Henry the Navigator's death. It is right on the waters edge. It is a stylised ship with Henry the Navigator setting out to make discoveries. After a bit more walking, we found a tunnel and crossed to the other side of the main road and rail line. Now we strolled in the gardens at the front of the Jerónimos Monastery. This is a huge gothic/manueline building. J and C intend to visit here, especially as this was where the original "Pasteis de Belém" (sweet pastries) came from. C was pleased to see lots of ducks swimming in a pond.

Legs were getting leaden, so back to the station, onto the train, and back to the Cais de sodre station. A short walk from here and we reached the Ascensor da Bica - a quaint and small funicular tram that links the waterfront to Bairro Alto. Saves a huge climb. We hopped on and within minutes we were up at our local mini market getting water and yoghurt. Then home for a rest and a red wine.

J didn’t feel like traipsing around tonight, so we ate veggie next door. Then home for an early night.

By the way, on the way up in the Ascensor, we were sitting next to a couple with a 2 yr old. C had to smile at him and talk to him. ( he had no idea what she was saying) Then she did the Incy Wincy Spider, and he thought it was hilarious!

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