Exploring Portugal – Belem
Today is the second day in Portugal. Before covering on today’s trip, I want to mention about last night’s dinner at A Taberna da Rua das Flores. Funny story, this is a pretty famous Portuguese restaurant that creates their menu of the day based on the fish they caught. I arrived at around 8 p.m., but I had to wait an hour and a half to get a table. However, the waitress asked me to wait for a second, and came back telling me that there is a seat on the stairs. I refused at first, but she insisted me to check it out. I went in, and saw a nice set up of pillows on a four step stairs with boxes used as tables. It’s a seat for two, and there already set down a gentleman in my age. The waitress asked us if it’s fine for the both of us to share this “table”, I pondered for a second and agreed. But it didn’t turn out bad! This guy who shared the table with me is also a junior college student from University of Pennsylvania studying abroad in London. We had a nice conversation and a dinner, and we planned on seeing each other again to do more sightseeing in Lisbon soon.
This morning, I started my day late because of catching up on the blog last night. I had lunch at a local portuguese restaurant; I ordered a grilled codfish with grill vegetables. Some parts of the codfish was pretty salty, and the whole dish didn’t taste like it was grilled. But it was a very filling dish for ten Euros.
I joined my group tour for Belem at 2:30 p.m. We took a train for just 3 stops to get to the Belem train station. Immediately after getting off the train station, you will see the Museum of the Presidency of the Republic.
We turned around the corner and it was the Jerónimos Monastery. Completed in 1601, the Jerónimos Monastery is a stunning architecture combining elements from nature, European, Moorish, and Eastern motifs.
Just across the Monastery, passing the fountain and the garden, we came to Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Monument to the Discoveries. Just in front of the monument, we have the Compass Rose, visually indicating the Portuguese empire’s navigation journey and its colonizing route starting 600 years ago. From Africa to Macau, from South America to Japan, brave Portuguese sailers discovered and claimed many parts of the world. The Padrão dos Descobrimentos was built to commemorate the navigators such as Infant Henry the Navigator.
We finally came to the Tower of Belem. This tower was first built as one of the three fortresses to prevent invasion. It was later used as a political prison and now as a tourist attraction. From evidence of paintings and photographs, it seemed like that this tower is much closer to the shore than it was before. There was a false saying that it moved closer to the shore because of the earthquake, but in fact it was because the city extended its shore out to gain more land. The Tower of Belem was never put into use because there had not been any invasion. It is another great example of the Jerónimos Monastery architecture composing elements of nature, European, Moorish, and Eastern motifs.
After the whole long tour in Belem, we decided to stop by one of the most famous pastry in the world – Pastéis de Belém. Each of us ordered the Pastel de Belem and some chocolate milk. It was comparable to the ones I grew up eating in Macau!
That’s it for today! I am looking forward to going to Sintra tomorrow!