Visiting Lisbon, Portugal

May 6th, 2008 at 7:41 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Visiting Lisbon, Portugal

This morning, around 6:30am, as the sun rose, we sailed (actually motored) our way to dock in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Locally, the name of the city is Lisboa, pronounced “Leezh-boh-ah”.

The sun rises over Lisbon, Portugal
The sun rises over Lisbon, Portugal

We left the ship, after breakfast of course, around 8:30am, boarded the ubiquitous tour buses we’ve so become accustomed to, and got a tour of Lisbon, stopping first at the Tower of Lisbon, then the Explorer’s Monument, and then the Cathedral of Geronimo (where famed explorer Vasco de Gama is buried). The latter two stops were interesting, but the cathedral was overcrowded with tourists.

After the cathedral tour, we stopped in at another Lisbon landmark, Pasteis de Belem, a pastry and coffee shop that has been around since 1837, and which specialized in little custard tarts you sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Yum!

Linda, Bas, Diane, and Krystyana after a great cafe stop in Lisbon, Portugal
Linda, Bas, Diane, and Krystyana after a great cafe stop in Lisbon, Portugal

From there the bus took us out from the Belem area to the heart of Lisbon, and on to the top of the tallest hill of Lisbon, where we disembarked, and made our way down the hill for some sightseeing on foot. We stumbled over a rather derelict building built in 1922 which had phenomenal tile work and statuary, and then after about three quarters of an hour, stopped into a local restaurant with outdoor seating and dined on seafood (Bas had pizza, and Diane, who had joined us, had vegetarian food – a mushroom omelet.

We then took a taxi to visit one of our favorite trip things to see, namely the local aquarium. The one in Lisbon is called the Oceanarium, and is located some ways out of town, but it’s absolutely brilliant. It has one of the best designs for a giant ocean tank, where huge viewing spaces are available all the way around, and other exhibits are well integrated into the environment. The tank was well stocked with a variety of interesting species, including a mola-mola (ocean sunfish), over a half dozen species of sharks, and likewise a number of different species of rays – and all in good health.

Diane and Linda observe the plethora of wildlife in the giant tank at the Lisbon Oceanarium
Diane and Linda observe the plethora of wildlife in the giant tank at the Lisbon Oceanarium

We had to hustle, as we only had an hour available because we had dawdled a bit at lunch, but we managed to get through everything in that time, making back to the ship only two minutes later than intended (and it did not leave without us).

Pre-dinner we learned how to tie a turban – two different ways and also learned about Spanish wines. During dinner we were joined by a Lindblad staff cultural historian, Steve Blamires from Scotland, who specializes in the history of the British Isles, and had a fascinating discussion on a range of topics including the building of places like Stonehenge, the Celtic peoples and their mythology and languages, cultural elements which gain or lose significance with the passage of time, and the decline of the Roman civilization. While little of our discussion was about the Iberian peninsula where we currently are visiting, the topics we did discuss were incredibly interesting and mentally stimulating. Both kids ended up getting very engrossed as well (although Bas’ tiredness finally won out and he headed back to his room). Steve will continue on the next segment the Endeavour goes on after it drops us off in Portsmouth, which is a tour of the British Isles (which is where David Barnes will be rejoining the vessel as well).

Tomorrow’s (actually by the time this posts it will be today’s, locally speaking) plans include a photography lecture followed by a photo critique session and then the rest of the day in Oporto, Portugal, where we will visit the Sandeman port house (where they make port wine), among other places.

 

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