Garden, panaderia, dinner, concert.
Today was a great day.
1st THE GARDEN
To escape the city bustle and see if our favourite garden in Lisbon could be matched, we took a walk to the Jardim Botanico Tropical.
Location: Largo Jeronimos and Calçada do Galvão, Belem, Lisbon.
Entrance: 2 Euros.
Souvenir tip: You can buy very sweet miniature plants in pretty pots for less than 10 Euros at the entrance office.
The garden is located close to the monumental Monasterio Jeronimos and Lisbon’s Pasteis de Belem. Seriously, all the great things of Lisbon are in Belem.
Jardim Botanico Tropical is an inviting garden with a lot to see, or equally suited to relax on sun-warmed benches, get a tan and watch peacocks, waddling ducks and geese following their daily commitments.
Wings-drying cycle activated.
A lot to discover.
We saw the boasting beauty of a dancing peacock . The male was turning around with his amazing blue-green feather fan for some peahens watching from a distance. The ladies weren’t very interested but poor guy did his best to impress. In Portugal, those birdies run around freely in the gardens which works perfectly well for everybody, animals and humans.
Apart from peacock entertainment, you can see fig trees, ginkgo biloba, giant yucca (the oldest tree in the garden), dragon trees, cacti, some prehistoric palm-like plants, a Hollywood style palms avenue, sculptures of African heads, flamboyant 18th century pond and seating area festooned with Portuguese tile-pictures:
Traditional Portuguese tile business card?
What were these plants called again? I am sure mum knew.
From the garden, you can also get a glimpse of the president’s palace.
An interesting monument is this Macau Gate. I thought of our visit to the former colony with its very Portuguese looking historic centre and egg tart stands on every corner. Apart from that, Macau has turned into a soulless gaming parlour.
Beyond the gate, the garden is the perfect spot for couple quality time.
He just happened to stand there.
More family affairs.
Before I forget, you can clamber over the gnarled roots of the banyan tree.
2nd THE PANADERIA
A quick snack was taken at Lisbon’s chain Panaderia Portuguesa – a great place to grab a coffee, fresh orange juice and pastry. So we did. Location (one of many): Rua de Belem 44, Lisbon.
I have trouble to choose and colours are no help here. Usually I would go for raspberry pink cake but in Portugal offers are limited to yellow-brownish shades.
Pricing is unbeatable. For hardly 7 Euros mum had a brioche bun, Tomek tuna pastry and the sugar croissant was for me. Coffee with milk, orange juice and we were set to walk down to the modern CCB complex.
3rd DINNER at the CCB – Centro Cultural de Belem
This is where we went for a free visit of contemporary and modern art and to get our concert tickets, yesterday.
Before the concert, we had dinner at the Este e Oeste restaurant – a fusion of Japanese and Italian cuisine. Obviously this mix doesn’t go together at all, unless you eat what Japanese think is Italian food (thereby turning it into fantastic dishes) at Saizeriya. We should have known.
The portions were huge but lacking in quality and missing the spark of the fancy interior (melted with budget cutlery).
Miso soup was as Japanese as it gets.
Tagiatelle with goat cheese for us. We shared one plate and it was more than plenty for two. A lot of noodles in a bland cream sauce with a thin cheese strip on top and a knot of ruccola thrown in. To be fair, the Portuguese didn’t do anything wrong. This did taste like most of the restaurant stuff we got served in Italy.
Mum went for penne pesto. And that is all it was. Same noodle, grease overload with the rucola knot.
Desert. Whoever is in charge of food presentation and responsible for the cheap wafer curl, should not work in a restaurant.
Best ever drink though. Pure and freshly squeezed orange juice. They didn’t mess it up and I was positively surprised, there is a lot that can go wrong with serving fresh orange juice.
I wouldn’t really want to complain but this prime location, overlooking the Tagus river, served less than average lovelessly prepared supermarket food paired with Ikea tableware (I love Ikea if constrained to my home). Este e Oeste plays make believe, pretending it is something else with a brisk and superfluous maitre d’. We paid 40 Euros – not a fortune but for that price you can get some decent traditional Portuguese meals.
So, the massive terrace overlooking the Tagus river had to made up. This is a relaxing and pretty spot at the CCB.
Concert ready at dawn.
4th THE CONCERT
The concert was superb, playing baroque tunes – the perfect background music to all the fancy palaces and their music rooms.
The relaxed orchestra, called Divino Sospiro (Divine Breath) was unconventional, the conductor Massimo Mazzeo interacting and joking with the audience, at one point taking over the violin of his surprised orchestra member.
I liked Gemma Bertagnolli best, she was singing like Farinelli, so mum said, hitting the high tunes with a smile while coquettishly rocking back and forth to the melody in a catching-cute manner.
Location CCB: Fundacao Centro Cultural De Belem, Praca do Imperio, Lisboa. Tickets: 10 Euros each, for good seats (mid-front auditorium).
Divino Sospiro – was indeed a divine breeze of classic tunes.
Culture quota raised for the day! Hooray!