Travel | Lisbon, Belem...

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Hello everyone! And a very happy Wednesday! How the devil are you? I'm currently busy working away on the cup of creative interviews for next month, and I have to say I am really REALLY enjoying them, even though I have this sinking feeling that it is all a little last minute and everything is going to take a lot longer than I think it will. I'm planning on being a little offline over the next week or so, as I get my new blog design uploaded and work on actually getting into some sort of routine, so things will continue to be a little quiet!

However, I am here TODAY, and I thought it was about time I shared some more photos with you from our trip to Lisbon, and specifically our day in Belem.

I think Belem might have been my favourite place we visited during our trip. Belem itself is a little outside of Lisbon, about half an hour on the train (but tickets are cheap as chips, and the trains run every 15 minutes, so hardly a pain to get to) and is home to the Jeronimos monastery, the Torre de Belem, and the original bakery of Pastel de Nata's.

Belem itself feels a little quieter than the city centre, and is further up the tragus river, giving it even more of 'by the sea' laid back atmosphere. When you first get off the train you are greeted with oh so instagrammable pastel and colourful buildings (as you are everywhere in Lisbon) and a beautiful leafy green park. It all feels sort of modest, that is until you are met with the grandeur that is the Jeronimos monastery.

If I am being honest, despite absolutely loving the Berliner Dom last year, whenever I hear 'monastery' or 'cathedral' I still sort of think 'Oh good, another European church' but the Jeronimos Monastery blew me away. More so than the Duomo in Milan or Piazza San Marco in Venice (look at me all well travelled). And I obviously wasn't the only one because my word that was probably the biggest que of tourist I saw while we were in Lisbon, so I dread to think what it is like at the height of Summer. I do, however have a bit of a tip for you... You can buy a combined ticket for the Monastery and the Torre in the museum just a little further down from the Monastery entrance, where there was no que! Once you have your tickets you don't have to wait in line at the box office for either the Monastery or the Torre!

Anyway, if you thought the outside of the Monastery was beautiful wait until you see the arches inside. I am always amazed when I see such architecture because HOW DID THEY BUILD THAT??? And there is a certain buzz you get from touching walls and stones that have been there for so long and see so much isn't there? That is something I definitely need to remeber next time I start to scoff at the idea of seeing ANOTHER European church.

While I absolutely LOVED the monastery, my favourite site of the whole 10 days (and that's a BIG claim!) was the Torred de Belem, just 5 minutes down the road from Jeronimos...

LOOK AT IT! Is it just me or does it look like a castle that has risen out of the sea and was once home to the god of the waves or something? The details on the stone work is so ornate, and it looks so at home in its bay on the river!

Our combined ticket meant we got to skip the que to get in to the tower, but unfortunately it didn't let us skip the que once inside to climb to the top of the tower. While I would have loved to see what it was like inside the top turrets, we decided to skip the hour wait because we figured we'd seen a LOT of panoramic views of Lisbon by this point, and also I'd pushed myself pretty far with my new fear of heights already that holiday. And honestly it was just so hot, and I was so in awe of the outside of the tower, that I could have paddled in that shallow pool all day and have been happy. So, if you do head to Lisbon and it is crazy BUSY it's not the end of the world if you don't make it inside the tower, but promise me you'll paddle in the bay, and eat a frozen yoghurt and just admire it for a while?

After all that touristy sight seeing, and lets face it being in AWE is tiring, we decided it was time... Time to join the crazy que for our Pastel De Belem... the ORIGINAL Pastel de Natas, which if you don't know are delicous, buttery, flaky custard tarts. Pasteis de Belem, legend has it, was the first bakery to produce these little bites of heaven.  All the tourist books RAVE about this bakery, and we told ourselves that if the que was mental, we'd give it a miss. A custard tart is a custard tart right? 


When we got there the que was out the door, and people were kind of acting crazy, but it was moving quickly, and we weren't sure where else to go, so we joined the end of custard fanatics line and waited. And honestly we were served in 10 minutes, and being served was an experience in itself. Everyone is shouting their orders for 6 or 12 tarts, and the people behind the counter move SO fast. It was one of those experiences that feel... so European... Does that make sense?

We went for a box of 6 tarts, and I can't remember how much they were, but I do remember thinking, wow, for a place with so much fame behind it, it was pretty cheap! We took our box to the park, and spent the last couple of hours of the afternoon lazing in the sun and the shade and savouring every last bite! When you're in an exciting place, and there is so much to see, it's really easy to feel like you have to be on GO all the time, but maybe it was the atmosphere of Lisbon as a whole, but these quiet moments, really helped us find the perfect balance between travelling and holidaying. Not only that but it's only when you stop that you can really take in all that you have seen.

Have you ever been to Belem, or have I convinced you to add it to your Lisbon itinerary? I really hope I have, let me know in the comments x

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