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AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures
Cycling Europe 2019 Day 9: Exploring Lisbon Attractions
This is part of cycling tour of Iberian Peninsula (Portugal & Spain), covering Lisbon & some of its neighbourhood:
B'Happy Inn>Interdente Metro>by Lisbon Metro>Cais do Sodré>Mercado da Ribeira>by Carris Bus>Jerónimos Monastery>Padrão dos Descobrimentos>Torre de Belém>by Lisbon Tram 15E>Sé de Lisboa>Castelo de Sao Jorge>Miradouro Sta. Luzia>Ride on Tram 28>Martim Moniz Station>B'Happy Inn.
Cycling Distance: N/A Level: N/A
Time : 10:30am to 9:00pm
Time Taken : 10 hrs 30 mins. (including Metro, bus, & tram rides, visiting Lisbon's attractions, lunch, tea, dinner, & lots of photo opps.)
This is page 8 of a 16-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
On the Continental Europe, vehicles are left-hand drive, so cycle on the right. And do remember the traffic directions at road crossing. Also note that often cycling lanes run next to pedestrian lanes at town and city areas, at crossings there are separate lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, so stick to the correct lane.
2. Route & Traffic Conditions
Today's route is without cycling and is via the trains, buses and trams of Lisbon Metro, Lisbon Carris Yellow Buses, and Lisbon Trams (including Tram 15E & the renown Tram 28). Travelling was with the Viva Viagem Card, which covers the metro, ferry, suburban trains, buses, trams, funicular, and and even lifts. We used the Viva Viagem Card bought at €0-50 and then top up €1-50 for each ride.
For the Lisbon Metro, click here for guide to purchasing tickets and card passes, here for the Metro Timetable and here for the Train Network Diagram/Chart. Do not that the cards can only be purchased at the Metro stations.
At Lisbon day temperatures averaged 18°C and night averaged 15°C. There were intermittent light showers through out the day and evening.
It is always prudent to check the weather for the next day so as to know what to expect and be prepared for it. Useful weather forecast sites are BBC Weather, AccuWeather, and for more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.
4. Places of Interest
Along this route were several places of interests, some of which we visited and others we did not for lack of time:
- Bemposta Palace (Palácio da Bemposta/Paço da Rainha, Queen’s Palace) (GPS: 38.72309, -9.13850).
- Clock Tower @ Centro de Dia Nossa Senhora da Pena (Our Lady of Pena Day Center (Arroios)) (GPS: 38.7229, -9.13823).
- Mercado de Ribeira (GPS: 38.70702, -9.14547).
- Time Out Food Court (GPS: 38.70707, -9.14591).
- Igreja Santa Maria De Belém (Saint Mary of Bethlehem Church) (GPS: 38.69768, -9.20549).
- Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery) (GPS: 38.69789, -9.20670).
- Jardim da Torre de Belém (Belem Tower Garden) (GPS: 38.69176, -9.21589).
- Praça do Império (Empire Square) (GPS: 38.69613, -9.20596).
- Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries) (GPS: 38.69359, -9.20571).
- Floating bottle caps art at Epaco Espelho d Agua (GPS: 38.69357, -9.20715).
- Farol de Belém (Belém Lighthouse) (GPS: 38.69305, -9.20898)
- Centro de Arqueologia de Lisboa (Archeology Center of Lisbon) (GPS: 38.69426, -9.21167).
- Doca do Bom Sucesso yacht harbour (GPS: 38.69307, -9.21193).
- Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) (GPS: 38.69158, -9.21597).
- Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral) (GPS: 38.70987, -9.13258).
- Scenic view of Lisbon from Miradouro De Santa Luzia cafe. (GPS: 38.71159, -9.13033).
- Arco do Castelo (Castle Arch) (GPS: 38.71219, -9.13285).
- Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George Castle) (GPS: 38.71390, -9.13347).
- Rua da Mouraria (GPS: 38.71561, -9.13601), steep street with steps & escalator
- Lavra funicular (GPS: 38.71784, -9.1418), even steeper street with funicular tram.
a. Brunch - At Restaurante Bacalhau (GPS: 38.70831, -9.14570):
b. Tea - Coffee and legume/vegetable soup at Vella Latina (GPS: 38.69307, -9.2135):
c. Dinner - At Pangzi Mianguan (胖子面馆) (GPS: 38.71761, -9.13492):
Chinese noodles, dumplings, pineapple fritters and herbal tea. Total for 6pax=€46-50.
Two nights at B'Happy Inn (GPS: 38.72432, -9.14019) in Lisbon which we had pre-booked through AirBnB, a four-Bedroom Apartment at €200 per night (or €25 per pax per night). Our bikes were allowed to be brought into the apartment.
Address: Rua Gomes Freire 9 4. ° Dto, Lisboa, Lisboa 1150-119, Portugal.
7. Communicating with Each Other
When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost.
We bought pre-paid SIM cards from UK mobile provider Three on-line through Lazada. As some of us stayed for a shorter period, we got two plans with cost ranging from RM30 to RM70 for a 20 days 4G and a 30 days 10G plans respectively. These plans include their "Feel At Home" package which allow the phone's data, call and messaging allowance to be used in sixty countries (mostly European and also Singapore) without any extra charges!
8. Communicating with Locals
In Portugal, except in rural areas, many locals can speak some basic English and communicating with them shouldn't be a problem. This is especially the case in hotels & restaurants.
When communicating with locals is a problem, this could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour, do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak very good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedule.
Unless he or she is very familiar with the locals routes, the tour leader should carry a GPS units. It will also be good if another member of the team carry another GPS unit should the leader's one go faulty.
Kevin was using a Beeline navigation unit that synchronized with pre-planned routes on his phone app. Sin & me were using the Garmin GPS units and had pre-plotted our daily routes into respective GPX maps usable in these units. We had pre-loaded the Portugal, Spain & France Maps together with GPS coordinates of our destinations. Do ZOOM out to look for turning points further ahead; and ZOOM in at complicated junctions, otherwise one may make a wrong turn (it did happen to us sometimes).
Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.
At the towns and cities, we used Google Maps to navigate to various places of interests that were not shown on our GPS units. Do note that Google Maps does not work in Cycling Mode in Portugal so use Walking Mode but do be aware that sometimes recommened routes are against traffic. In Spain, Google Maps does work in Cycling Mode.
10. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.
Yesterday, we left Óbidos and had arrived at Lisbon in the afternoon, and did some cycling to our apartment, and later to the attractions at the Baixa. and Alfama districts before taking the Lisbon Metro back.
Today will be a non-cycling day as we rested our cycling legs and left our Brompton bicycles behind and took the train, buses, and trams to visit localities further away; to the attractions at the Belém neighbourhood, it's one of the older, coastal neighbour hood of Lisbon and steeped with history.
Route: B'Happy Inn>Interdente Metro>by Lisbon Metro>Cais do Sodré>Mercado da Ribeira>by Carris Bus>Jerónimos Monastery>Padrão dos Descobrimentos>Torre de Belém>by Lisbon Tram 15E>Sé de Lisboa>Castelo de Sao Jorge>Miradouro Sta. Luzia>Ride on Tram 28>Martim Moniz Station>B'Happy Inn.
Cycling Distance: N/A. Level: N/A.
Our day started with a walk down from our apartment's Estefania neighbour hood down to the Intendente area to catch the Metro. Enroute, our walk showed a warm face of the city as we passed by the Bemposta Palace.
It was originally built for Queen Dowager Catherine of Braganza and served for many years as her residence before it became the Portuguese Military Academy. It also has a striking maroon coloured clock tower.
It's a hilly area, making our walk down-slope easy. And it's not just the grand buildings that attracted us, often it's the simple things that make a good photo, like this old doorway in a dilapidated building.....
.... and this other one which had beautiful Portuguese azujelo blue tiles to brighten up the entrance.
11:00am - We boarded the Lisbon Metro at the Interdente Station and go out at the Cais do Sodré station. This is a large combined station serving the Metro, inter-city trains and Lisbon Trams too. On it's walls were tile murals of giant running/hopping rabbits. Here are my buddies acting like rabbits... hmmm..... or perhaps they are getting hungry?
Fortunately our destination, the Mercado de Ribeira market, is nearby. This place is divided into two sections; coming in from the entrance near the station, on the right is the Traditional Market, selling raw stuff and other typical market things. Whilst on the left is a food court called Time Out.
It's close to noon and most of the stalls at the traditional market were already closed, and we had to satisfy ourselves with just watching the "fresh" seafood swimming in the display aquariums.
Come lunch time and we had thought of eating at Time Out, but our buddies Mel & Kev had tried the place a day earlier, and found the place touristy, the food just mediocre yet pricey. So we walked to the nearby streets to hunt for a more "local" place and found one called Restaurante Bacalhau. It's a place manned by Indian immigrants, and whenever we recall that Indian place in Lisbon, we know that we are referring to acalhau. But the chef and kitchen staff were Portuguese and they whipped out a fantastic lunch for us, one that's very ala Portuguese..... almost.....
We had the best Grilled Octopus (Polvo Grelhado) here, it's slightly burnt outside brought out the aroma of the sea, yet it's internal was succulently tender, and we savoured it slowly, bite by bite.
And here's the rest of our wonderful lunch (from top, left to right):
Pan-fried Sea Beam, Omelete, Red Sangria, Grilled Octopus (Polvo Grelhado), toasted Corn Bread, Tuna pate/salad (Patê de atum), Thai Shrimp Green Curry, and Prawn Cream Soup (not in photo).
An interesting feature of many Portuguese restaurants in town - right at the front entrance there is often an ATM..... is it there just in case patrons run out of cash or just for a convenient location?
From the nearby Rua de São Paulo / Bica bus stop we took a Carris Bus over to the Belém bus stop, and from there walked over to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery). The Belém neighbourhood is famous as a museum district, and is the home of many of the most notable monuments of Lisbon. With so many things to see, we did a fair bit of walking to view as much of the place as possible.
Above photo shows the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Igreja Santa Maria De Belém (Saint Mary of Bethlehem Church); although looking like one building because of their similar stone finishing, are actually two different structures. The Igreja Santa Maria De Belém is at the front right corner, while the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is a long building that stretches all the way to the left.
The monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon.
A closer look at the arch entrance of the Igreja Santa Maria De Belém.
At the bottom left corner of the Praça do Império (Empire Square), are these horse statues with ducks seemingly feeling very at home, crowding at its base..... BUT the ducks are REALLY at home - at the rear of the statue's pedestal is a small opening that let the ducks swim inside, into the bottom of the pedestal where they can shelter from harsh weather!
The Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries) is not easily missed as it stand 52-metre-high overlooking the Tagus river mouth. It's seen here with the red Ponte 25 de Abril bridge in the background.
Conceived in 1939 by Portuguese architect José Ângelo Cottinelli Telmo, and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida. It is located along the Tagus river where ships departed to explore and trade with India and the Orient, the monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries. Shaped as a caravel prow it was erected to honor the main characters of the Portuguese Discovery Age. Thus, Henry the Navigator, the Discoveries sponsor is sided by kings and queens, explorers, navigators, artists, scientists, cartographers and missionaries whose deeds granted them a place in Portugal’s history, during the 15th and 16th centuries.
In front of the nearby Epaco Espelho d Agua, an odd lookin raven boat-plane sculpture sits above a reflecting pool in which thousands of colourful plastic bottle caps were floating on it's surface. The overall installation is called "Desire" and was done by Brazilian artist Agostinho Moreira; instead of coins, visitors are encouraged to throw their bottle caps to make a wish. The bottle caps are later collected and given to a social cause.
Further down is the Farol de Belém (Belém Lighthouse), this structure with bands of red bricks is not a real lighthouse.
And at a nearby field, the Monument Gago Coutinho e Sacadura Cabral put up in tribute to in tribute to Portuguese aviation pioneers Gago Coutinho and Artur de Sacadura Cabral, who together carried out the first flight across the South Atlantic Ocean in 1922. They flew from Lisbon, Portugal, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
After a slow and long walk, we finally reached our destination, the Torre de Belém (Belém Tower). Officially known as the Tower of Saint Vincent (orre de São Vicente), it is a 16th-century fortification located in Lisbon that served as a point of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. It was built during the height of the Portuguese Renaissance, and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style. The structure was built from lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and a 30-metre,four-storey tower.
On our walk back, saw several colourful things. First were these cute red tri-motorcycle food trucks.....
... and the bright pastel green buildings of the Centro de Arqueologia de Lisboa (Archeology Center of Lisbon) ....
..... and a nearby pedestrian underpass, from a local artist we bought this hand painted bright ceramic tiles showing the iconic Lisbon Yellow Trams.
It was drizzling intermittently, feeling cold we dropped by the for some warm soup and hot coffee at the Vella Latina cafe. Meanwhile at the Doca do Bom Sucesso harbour, yachts were moored nonchalantly; and further away, at the Tagus river mouth, a container liner slowly sailed its way out to sea.
One last group photo of us starring with the stars at the Praça do Império. At the outer perimeter are mosaic floor tile patterns showing individual astrological animals; take your pick and have a photo with you astrology animal. Too bad for me there is no astrological old dog 😥.
4:45pm - Time to ride on of those famous Lisbon Yellow Trams; at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos Tram Station we boarded Tram 15E to head for Praça do Comércio Tram Station. It was not one of those wooden trams from days of old, the ones used on this route was a modern yellow one.
At one of the later stops, a local, gypsy-looking lady boarded and sat next to Anne. Forewarned of pickpockets being rampant on the trams, and noticing that she was stealing glances at Anne's bag, I alerted Anne by speaking to her in Bahasa Malaysia. Anne acted nonchalant but was on her guard. Later she disembarked at the same stop as us and spoke with us friendlily and even advise us on the locality. Did we judge her wrong? Anyway it better to be safe then sorry; so here are some tips of avoiding pickpockets on the trams.
From the tram stop we took a walk up to the Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral); it's a very steep climb and luckily we did not bring our bikes to cycle otherwise instead of rideing, we would ended up pushing them all the way up.
This is the oldest church in the city is the seat of the Patriarchate of Lisbon. Built in 1147, the cathedral has survived many earthquakes and has been modified, renovated and restored several times.
Inside, I said some prayers to thank for our safe journey, and later admired the statues in the church, including this Pietà (statue of Mary holding a crucified Jesus). It bears some resemblance to the renown Pietà by Michelangelo.
6:00pm - By the time we left, dusk had set in and a gypsy women was seen quietly reposed on the entrance steps; casting away our suspicious feelings, we gave some alms.
Continuing our our slow climb up and we reached the Miradouro De Santa Luzia cafe. I would recommend visitors to stop here and have a cup of coffee while enjoying one of the best views of Lisbon Port. Here we had a good view of bright cruise liners moored at the port.
6:30pm - Happily we reached the Arco do Castelo (Castle Arch), we had thought that this is the entrance to the Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George Castle) but were wrong. It leads to the compound preceding the entrance to the castle.
Our happiness was short lived; inside the compoun, we discovered that the castle gates were closed! See, visiting hours are from 9am to 6pm only.
But there was a silver lining to close our day; from the nearby Miradouro Sta. Luzia Station we managed to catch the renown Tram 28. Even better was that at this hour the tram was not packed and we could sit comfortably and have good photos taken within the timber coach of the tram.
Disembarking at the Martim Moniz Tram Station, we saw another odd thing nearby. These steps here that my buddies were "struggling" to climb up is actually a road and it has a name - Rua da Mouraria. It's so steep that the local authorities have replace the paved surface with steps and has also installed an escalator to help the old and disabled go up.
But even then, this is not the steepest street in Lisbon; the steepest one is at Lavra funicular, which is so steep that there is a funicular tram to take people up and down the short street.
Looks like the steepest street in the world many not be Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand, but should be here in Lisbon!
Our dinner at Pangzi Mianguan (胖子面馆) (clockwise from bottom left): fried rice, beef noodle soup, dim sum, fried noodles and banana fritters. It's our first and ONLY Chinese meal during the whole of our tour, what can we say - the food in Portugal and Spain are absolutely delicious that we hardly missed Malaysian cooking.
We end our day with a spoof of us "pushing" Tram 28 to give it a head start.
(That's Goodnight in Portuguese)
(For more photos of the Day 9, Click Here)
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