Europe Trip – Portugal – Lisbon, Portugal’s capital


The suburb of Belém  5 km outside of Lisbon is home to Torre de Belém, another Unesco World Heritage listed Manueline showpiece constructed during the Portuguese ‘Age of Discoveries’.  The sunset around the tower is magical on a calm day. Other interesting sites in Belém include unique Padrão dos Descrobimentos, a 52-meter high limestone giant statue, and the amazingly beautiful Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a fantastic Manueline monastery with an equally stuff-of-fantasy church (think tree-like columns and spider web ceilings). We also visited the small but charming Tropical Botanical Garden and tried the famous pastéis de Belém, a pastry filled with custard cream.

In Lisbon on a windy rainy day, we visited Lisbon’s Oceanária in the Parque de Nações, a futuristic playground of glass-and-steel buildings used in Expo ´98. The Oceanarium itself (Europes second largest aquarium) consists of a huge wraparound central tank, containing rays, turtle, sharks and even a rare sunfish. It was a great experience for the kids, especially Kyra as she has learned a lot about sea creatures by watching ‘Octonauts’, an animated series about marine animals.

We then visited Central Lisbon in two days. One day pushing two strollers and marching on from site to site up and down steep streets. On the second day by taking buses and trams we explored Alfama with its narrow steep streets & beautiful view points over the city. Ending up at Praça do Comercio after a long day of walking, we arrived just on time to see the lit up streets and giant Christmas tree along with a circus light-show projected on the Arco.

Finally after 8 days we drove out of Lisbon heading south towards Setúbal Peninsula. We crossed the river via a bridge identical to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco (both bridges we built by the same company and are almost the same length). Our final stop was at the huge statue of Christ (Cristo Réi) overlooking the whole city of Lisbon across the river. The sweeping views were fantastic even on an overcast day!

During our visit to Lisbon, we had our first real glitches with the camper. One evening one of the batteries ‘cooked’, releasing dangerous gasses and on another cold night the heater gave out. Replacing the battery and resetting the heater solved the problems, but it took time to figure out all the practical details. Definitely by the time we finish this trip, we will know everything there is to know about campers.

From here onwards we will be driving straight south, visiting many of southern Portugal’s famous beaches !


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January 2014
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