Lisbon – for the blind, antique collectors and the hungry
Having just arrived in Lisbon (on the 6th of April, mind you), we dropped off our bags at the apartment in the historic western part of the capital, called Belém. This district is most famous for the Jerónimos Monastery, the Tower of Belém and mouth-watering egg tarts, called pasteis de Belém.
Resisting temptation, we took a close walk around our neighbourhood to the nearby Jardim Botânico da Ajuda.
It is the oldest park in Portugal, dating back to 1768 and features a special area with various scented plants and flowers for blind people (and people with a nose for gardens). This is where I was introduced (by mum) to the curry plant – smells totally like curry sauce!
Tomek facing scents.
Did not get very close with this species.
Apart from the (nicely-) smelly herbs and flowers garden, there is a fancy baroque maze, fountain with sea-creatures , a glasshouse with orchids, and a stunning layout on two levels with a sublime view over Belém, the Tagus river and the 25 de Abril bridge.
Location of Jardim Botânico da Ajuda: Calçada da Ajuda, Belém, Lisboa.
Admission: 2 Euros, from 9am to 6pm, closed on Wednesdays.
The best part was to spot some peacocks – the male birds giving an impressive courtship dance performance. And I have never seen peacocks jump onto trees before.
Impressed by the garden, we went towards the bustle near the Tagus river. To our surprise, we found a street market with a lot of extraordinary things in very good condition. Anything from antique books, tiles, coins, dishware and furniture.
Apparently, every first and third Sunday of the month an antiques and second-hand market lines the gardens in Belém, with characteristic burgundy-clothed stands, all the way towards the river.
I was tempted to buy an old chandelier (a small and very pretty one, no replica) but I am getting better at remembering that we indeed just have two suitcases (which are already full).
My new idea though, is to collect an antique flowery plate from each country we visit. Say, for a dinner for eight people. Hm. Could get heavy. Maybe a tile, then?
Blue-white tiles with picture images are very Portuguese. Portuguese love to adorn whole house façades (and interiors) with tiles.
In the end, I bought neither.
Around sunset, we were picky about picking a restaurant with traditional Portuguese meals. We settled on one near the antique market where we could sit outside.
Location: Restaurante O Rolhas, Rua Vieira Portuense 42, 1300 Lisboa, Portugal
A bit empty outside. Because what you can’t see in the picture, it is actually not that warm yet but pretending it to be, did make it bearable.
We were given azeitonas and pao and butter – olives and soft white bread as a starter. You pay a cover charge for served starters in Portugal’s restaurants. It may come as a surprise when you are presented with the bill but most of the time it is explained in the menu.
My take on this practice is: at least you get something for it – not like in Italy where all you get for ‘coperto‘ is a fork, knife and napkin. No joke.
The bill amounting to 37,35 Euros, was about what we usually pay for us three when going out for dinner. The cover-charge-starters were a bit pricier than usual, with 6,50 Euros for the three of us.
For the main meal we each picked seafood.
Sardinhas assadas for mum.
Robalinho (small robalo), which is snook, a small white meat fish for Tomek.
Arroz de perca, a sort of risotto with fish in the pot for me.
When the waiter asked how we had liked the food and I truthfully answered that it was very salty, he replied “Thank you” and left.
Better restaurants have soft cotton tablecloths which are changed for every new customer. But they do not necessarily speak better English.
Every country has its peculiarities. But I can tell, Lisboa has a lot more to offer and I will like it here.
Although at one point I wasn’t sure where exactly I was. ‘Wai’ in Portugal!