Lisbon, Portugal and yesterday’s day at Sea
Today we were in Lisbon, Portugal. It was a lovely 27 degrees Celsius. The other shore excursion I had booked had got cancelled, so the other night, I had to work out an alternative. I decided on ‘Lisbon by land and water’. Pretty much it was a tour that lasted a couple of hours in an amphibious vehicle. We got on the ‘bus/boat’ at the dock where MSC Magnifica was berthed. We drove through the heart of Lisbon before stopping at Belem which is on the bank of the Tagus River that joins Lisbon to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Gothic Jeronimos Monastery is surrounded by beautiful gardens and water features, including an impressive fountain. The famed custard tarts (pasteis de nata; link to recipe is below) of Lisbon also originate from here.
Belem is also home to the sail shaped ‘Discoveries’ monument that pays tribute to many, many important Portugese adventurers that explored so much of this planet. It’s interesting that Portugese is actually the 4th most spoken language in the world.
Lisbon is beautiful. A lot of it was destroyed in the great earthquake (and subsequent fire and tsunami) of 1755. Funny thing is there is one street that we went down that divided the area that was destroyed from the buildings left untouched.
A couple of landmarks quite surprised me. Firstly was the Ponte 25 de Abril (25th April bridge) which looks very much like the San Fransisco’s Golden Gate bridge, due to the fact that it is a similar suspension design and colour. The date name remembers the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974.
The other thing that caught my eye was a huge statue on the land on the southern side of the river. I did a double take as it looked like the ‘Christ the redeemer’ monument in Rio de Janeiro. No, it is the Cristo-Rei statue. Apparently this was built with money donated by the population of Portugal who were deeply grateful for their country not being involved in World WarII.
So be prepared for some unlikely landmarks in the beautiful city of Lisbon.
One other place we went past was the Champalimaud centre for the unknown. I just love that name and it is so very appropriate. This biomedicine research facility is the product of a bequest by a very successful businessman. It is an amazing building on the northern bank of the river.
We returned to the dock at the completion of the amphibious tour with plenty of time to explore Lisbon’s commercial district. I really like that a lot of European cities are doing to reduce the vehicle traffic in favour of pedestrians. (Malaga in Spain actually closes some roads on car free days). Lisbon’s seemingly endless supply of cafes and restaurant take the opportunity to expand their seating options to include open air tables protected from the sun by umbrellas along car free streets and laneways.
I happened to end up having McDonalds for lunch, having found the restaurant while on a search for restrooms. What really surprised me was they had beer on the menu. Who am I to judge? … when in Rome, or should I say Lisbon…
After arriving back to the ship the other night quite late after a shore excursion to Marrakech, (Morocco) it was nice to have a bit of a sleep in and take it slowly for the day yesterday.
I had breakfast up on deck 13 at the buffet off in search of the 4D cinema. I knew it was on deck 14, it just took a bit of effort to find it. The cinema costs €6, which I thought was quite reasonable. I chose to see to see, or should I say ‘experience’ the roller coaster movie.
I then went and got my laptop and a bottle of water and settled in to the tiger bar to write the post about Morocco. Before I left the cabin, I figured it was a good time to organise my laundry. I prepaid for a laundry service that is put in by 10am and delivered back to your cabin the following day. Not only washed, but ironed and delivered on coathangers. There is so much on a cruise that I would like to have at home….
I went to the restaurant for lunch, where you have a choice of al a carte, or a buffet, then it was back to the blog for a while followed by a walk around the ship and a coffee at deck 13.
Last night was another gala night. I do like the people watching at these nights. After dinner I went to the Royal theatre for a variety night. There was singing, dancing, acrobats and an aerial gymnast on the fabric strips.
You never know what you are going to see on an MSC cruise!
Ponte 25 de Abril