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Lisbon - Monday, 18 July 2016

Tour Lisbon; visit the Hieronymite Monastery; taste the famous Pasteis de Nata. Lunch at Visconde da Luz in Cascais; visit the 500 year old Palacio Nacional in Sintra, stopping at Guincho and Estoril en route.

sunny 27 °C

Hotel - Intercontinental Hotel Lisbon, Rua Castilho 149, Lisbon Room1014

This morning we did a city tour with our local guide Isabel. It is a very beautiful city. The pavements are stunning, especially this wavy one on the Rossio Square. It is really distracting to walk on it. You certainly have to keep your wits about you.

This is long arduous labour in extremely hot weather and with the low wages paid, this art is failing to attract apprentices. The pavements can be rather dangerous when they are wet as they become very slippery and people simple slip and fall over. Some of the stones are working their way loose and that is also dangerous.

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We walked down the street towards the Rua Augusta Arch and the harbour. The arch is stunning. It was built to commemorate the city's reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. It was orginally designed as a bell tower but was transformed into an elaborate arch after a century.

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This magnificent statue is of King Jose I. The King on his horse is symbolically crushing snakes on his path.

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The square is named Praca do Comercio, the Square of Commerce and is a beautiful place on the sea.

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Belem Tower, Tower of Saint Vincent is on the bank of the Tagus River. Again, (as much of Spain and Portugal), it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, especially because of the significant role it played in the Portugeuse maritime discoveries of the era of the Age of Discoveries.. It was part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus River. It was built in the early 16th century.

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Next, what we have all been waiting for (but I had a sneak preview yesterday) - morning tea but specifically tasting the very famous Pasteis de Nata - custard tart. Yum, yum. They are lovely.

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The Belem military museum is next door to the cafe where we had morning tea with pastelle de nata. We didn't go in - just took a few photos.

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We all wandered back to the bus after our delicious morning tea of Lisbon's famous custard tarts and noticed that Javier our driver was in deep discussions with the local police. Lots of arm waving by the police, but Javier seemed pretty relaxed. We were held up for about an hour. Once we got on the bus, Isabel explained what had transpired. I still don't really understand what she said but basically the minute our Spanish bus arrived in this Portuguese town, they did a check (somehow) and said that he was over his driver's hours. Apparently his company didn't agree with this and Isbael said it had nothing to do with Scenic, but at the end of the day, Javier was fined 2,600 Euros. If the police were so worried about him being over his hours, then why did they let him continue to drive us??

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On the road again and passed Cape Roca, the most western point of the continent of Europe.

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Drove to Casca for a lovely fish lunch at Visconde da Luz Restaurant. It was really nice and then we had some free time to wander through this lovely village.

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After lunch we drove to Sintra to visit the Palace. On the way we stopped at Guincho and Estoril. Now I'm not sure in which town these photos were taken but I want to introduce you to Sandra Hill, a lady in our group. During your life, if you are lucky, you will meet your soul mate, and not necessarily one of the opposite sex whom you would be lucky to marry. I have met a couple in my life and Sandra is one. We both thought it and when I posted this photo on my Facebook, the comment came back "sisters"! We look similar, we dress similar, we think the same way AND we are "happy snappies".

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On the bus over a mountainous road to see the palace at Sintra of King Manuel. It is a very narrow road in places and how Javier manoeuvres that bus around the corners and weaves it in and out of cars, is beyond me!

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It is the best preserved medieval royal residence in Portugal, being inhabited more or less continuously from at least the early 15th century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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The Swan Room so named because of the swans painted on the ceiling.

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Okay, but the Magpie Room has a very different story. King John I was caught kissing one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting by his Queen, Philippa of Lancaster. To put a stop to all the gossip, he had the room decorated with as many magpies as there were women at the court. I'm not sure how this is going to stop the gossip!

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We drove to our hotel but before we went inside to get changed for dinner, we walked over the road to the big Portugese flag to see the view over the city to the coast.

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We met Robert and Pat Scanlon downstairs at 7.45 pm and the conceirge called us a taxi and we drove to a restaurant out near the airport called Tertulia do Paco that was recommended to Robert by one of his pharmaceutical mates. They were supposed to be specialists in suckling pig. We had a reservation and when we arrived at the restaurant, the door was locked. We had to knock on the door to be let in! That was funny. We were the only ones there and the waiters didn't speak English, we didn't speak Portuguese and the menu was only written in Portuguese. So the waiter tried to desribe to us some of the dishes.

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After a lot of arm waving, Robert chose steak, Pat chose pork, I chose cod and Phil chose the Chef's salad which basically was a prawn salad. Robert and Phil had a beer and a bottle of red wine and Pat and I had a fruit Sangria, which turned out to be a Sangria made on champagne, fruit and brandy and two other liqueurs. It was very nice. On the other hand, my cod was the most tasteless, toughest piece of fish I have ever tasted. It was chewy and awful - so opposite from the delicious fresh bream I had for lunch and dinner the night before.

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We had a very nice evening. We were the only people in the restaurant the entire night, with about six staff running around after us. How they make a living, I'll never know. We left just after 10 pm, after they called us a taxi and the taxi driver thought he was a racing car driver and I am sure was exceeding the speed limits and screeched around all the corners. I was very glad to arrive back at the hotel in one piece.

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It was a funny night and I kept thinking that Manuel from Faulty Towers comes from this area of the world (Barcelona really) but these waiters were just like him!

I apologise for the length of this blog, but we are just squeezing SO much into every day, and it is all so wonderful, that I can't leave anything out!

Posted by gaddingabout 06:48 Archived in Portugal

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