For his 21st birthday trip, Super Son decided he wanted to go “someplace different”, so he chose Portugal. The tour he liked had two parts: Lisbon and its environs and the Douro River. So we packed our bags and took off for the country of the great explorers.
Our first stop was Lisbon, the capital city. Portugal has a long sea-faring history. Their national hero is Vasco da Gama, the first European to reach India entirely by sea.
Everything is decorated with maritime images, even their manhole covers.
They have a whole architectural style, the Manueline, that features ropes, anchors, seashells, etc. The Torre de Belém is considered one of the finest examples of the style:
Here’s a detail of the Torre. See the rope design?
We visited a beautiful church which holds the tomb of the “Shakespeare of Portugal.” Luís Vaz de Camoês wrote an epic poem, Os Lusíadas, about the great Portuguese explorers and the history of the Portuguese people. Every high school student in Portugal considers it torture to read, but it’s required.
Being oriented to the ocean, the folks in Lisbon eat lots of seafood. Sardines are a staple on every restaurant menu so I had to try them. Not my favorite dish.
These delicious little custard pastries, called pasteís de nata, make up for the sardines.
Handsome Husband and I journeyed up to the Castelo de São Jorge for a bird’s eye view of Lisbon.
Peacocks roam the castle grounds. This one posed nicely in front of some of the beautiful tile Portugal is famous for. Many houses and building are decorated with it, both inside and outside.
Another tribute to the great sea-going explorers is the Padrão de Descombrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) on the bank of the Tagus River, near the Torre de Belém. Prince Henry the Navigator is the fellow out in front holding the ship model.
I will end our tour of Lisbon with a quote from the poet Camoês’ epic poem which describes the monument well:
Arms and the Heroes, who from Lisbon’s shore,
Thro’ seas where sail was never spread before,
Beyond where Ceylon lifts her spicy breast,
And waves her woods above the watery waste,
With prowess more than human forc’d their way
To the fair kingdoms of the rising day.