Monday, October 22, 2018

Lisbon, Portugal, October 22, 2018

I had another great sleep: it's so refreshing when your roommates are quiet and respectful.  At 10, I joined another walking group for a tour of the 'new Lisbon' which means since the massive earthquake of 1755.  I got a bit bored with it even though the guide was good.  I am just historied out for the moment.  However, walking to the meeting point, I was just a few seconds too late to watch a robbery.  Two men in their twenties had their hands up on the wall and were spread eagled while two policemen guarded them.  Across the street, the window around an ATM was smashed and these were the would be robbers.  I didn't take a picture unfortunately.

The streets are very up and down and nothing in the old city, before 1755 made much sense.  The new city is on the grid and the streets were made very wide which works well today with all the cars.  Millenium Bank has this map of what used to be-

The tour started in Camões Square-

Luís Vaz de Camões (1524-1580) was an explorer for 15 years but didn't bother paying taxes so once caught, had the option to either join the countries militia or die.  He chose the first option and went to Morocco but lost his right eye in a battle.  He was lucky because at that time, there was little hope in treating an infection.  In his spare time, he wrote poetry and kept his poems in a box on his ship.  During another journey coming home from Macau, a Portuguese colony, he was attacked and his boat was destroyed.  His girlfriend couldn't swim and she was in the water, calling for help.  He had to decide if he was going to save his box of poetry or his girlfriend.  She drowned - nasty man!  He is buried in Belém, a neighbouring town, in Saint Jeronimo's Church-

Not too far away from the Camões Square is the Largo Do Chiado Square a.k.a. Squeaky Square.  Antonio Ribeiro Chiado sat on a stool and recited poetry, not his own work but that of others.  He had a really squeaky voice and that's how the square got it's name-

In the same square was another man who used to drink coffee, smoke opium, get drunk everyday and write poetry-


Coffee came from Brazil, and it was awful.  Shops put signs on the walls that read "BICA", which meant the only way to drink their coffee was to add sugar because it was so acidic.  Today if you ask for a BICA, you are sure to get a smile from the waiter!

Portugal had some great explorers who brought back many riches: porcelain from China, gold from Brazil and pieces from India and Malaysia.  One ship filled with spices could pay for 600 voyages of 20 ships.  An ounce of spice was worth more than an ounce of gold.

The earthquake of 1755 registered 9.1 on the Richter scale.  It lasted for 8 minutes and just happened to occur on November 1 - All Saint's Day at 9:30 a.m. when most people were in church.  The roofs fell into the buildings and 65,000+ were killed.  Shortly after, there was a tsunami and then all the candles burning in the churches started fires that lasted for 5 days.  Another 65,000+ died.  Some saw it as God's punishment for all the sins of Lisbon: the wealth, the brothels, the pillaging, the drugs and alcohol.  Reconstruction started immediately and building went crazy because the king had so much gold from Brazil he could pay for anything he wanted.  A rich merchant built this beautifully tiled building-

Tram 28 went by and it wasn't packed like when I rode it yesterday-

Lisbon is a city for shoppers and eaters.  Grilled sardines are on every menu and this shop sells them canned-

with your birth year-

Every square has a huge monument to recognize someone who did something-

The tiles in this square made me dizzy

The Elevador de Santa Justa was designed by Ponsard, a student of Gustave Eiffel.   You can take an elevator up to the top for a view of the city-

The Portuguese are not very tall people.  Here's a typical entrance to a home along the street-

The Rua Augusta Arch in the sunshine-

Praça do Comércio also in the sunshine-

Today's guide had a different take on this monument.  The snakes under the feet of someone mean that person was very 'treacherous'.  This King was apparently also useless-

Our guide also pointed out the Rua Dos Correeiros Archaeological Site which is under a Millennium Bank and free tours are available.  I called and they had a spot at 3 pm.  It's an intimate group as only 15 people are allowed in each hour.
They have found dishes, brooches, pots and fishing net weights dating from the 5th to 3rd Century B.C., all underneath the bank-

As well, knives, hair pins and drinking vessels from the 1st century B.C. to the 5th century A.D.-

And building tiles and stucco-

People used to pray to Saint Antonio for their wants and if their prayers weren't answered, they would break off his head and throw him down the well.  That's where these two clay dolls were found-

We went underneath the bank and there are fish rooms where sardines were salted and prepared for export.  11,000 litres of sardines/month were in this factory alone and there were blocks and blocks of factories-

These archeological findings are 4 meters below the streets of today's Lisbon.  
They also used wood beams to support the stone foundations because there are a lot of underground rivers running through the city.

The skeleton dates from the 5th century A.D. and was probably a Roman-

The guide was very knowledgeable but she spoke English is such a convoluted way that not much of what she said made sense to me.  She gave us a nice brochure at the end but its English translation isn't much better.

My last stop this visit was to Belém.  Walking to the train station, I saw this menu-

A one pound rib-eye steak is $67.50, and a kg of Tomahawk rib-eye, whatever that might be is $90!

I took the train to Belém to see the Monument to the Discoveries which was built in 1958 to commemorate the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.  It's 171 feet high and on the edge of the Tagus  River-

Nearby is the Tower of Belém which was built in the early 16th century in Manueline style.  It's made from limestone and is 98.4 feet high. It was built as a fortress to protect Lisbon at the mouth of the Tagus- 

Nearby is the Igreja dos Jeronimos which was built in 1517 in gothic style-

The higher the ceiling, the closer to God-

I also had to stop at Pasteis de Belém.  It's a pastry shop that has been in operation since 1837.  Their claim to fame is the custard tart and the recipe is from the Jeronimo Monastery.  It has a pleasantly sweet filling but the flaky crust is crunchy.  It's the best one I've had so far and they sprinkle it with icing sugar and cinnamon-

The kitchen-

and the front counter-

That was plenty for one day and walking home in the dark, the arch was lit up-

Tomorrow, I'm leaving Lisbon and the crazy traffic for Evora, a nearby village, for a couple of days of rest, wine and relaxation! 

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