Sintra & Belem


It’s been a while since we visited Lisbon but I thought it was about time to finally got around to finishing my blog on the city, the reasons for the delay was the small matter of my fourth heart operation (it’s not as dramatic as it sounds) and also trying to fit in my many other interests. After our day taking Castile St Jorge we decided to take the train to which is about a 30 minute train journey from Lisbon and is a very popular day trip from the city. The main attraction for visiting Sintra apart from the quaint little town is visiting Pena National Palace a truly magnificent piece of architecture sitting on the top of a hill overlooking the town, and apparently on a clear day it can be seen from Lisbon itself, but the day we visited Sintra it was torrential rain which did not let up for the whole day, we got thoroughly soaked through so apart from the castle itself, which incidentally is well worth the visit but due the rain we did have the opportunity to really appreciate the town itself.
On our last day in Lisbon it was time to sample the local delicacy of Pasteis de Nata which is basically a custard tart, but with a taste to die for, truly delicious, and what better place to sample them was at the Pastéis de Belém restaurant in Belem which was recommended to us by the receptionist in our apartment rental.
Incidentally the transport system in Lisbon is very good and along with the norm, trains, buses and metro it also has a very good tram system, so we took the short walk through town to the tram stop to make our way to Belem, The route takes you along the Rio Tejo River which was rather nice but owing to the tinted windows and the very gray weather conditions there was not much vista to see. After a journey of about 15 minutes we arrived in Belem, a very nice town situated right along the river’s edge, and as it was coffee time we made our first stop the famous Pastéis de Belém restaurant. The restaurant was originally sited next to a sugar cane refinery and was built-in the late 18th century. Here is an extract from the restaurants website. I quote”At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, in Belém, next to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (the Heironymite Monastery) there was a sugar cane refinery linked to a small general store. As a result of the liberal revolution of 1820, all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down in 1834, the clergy and labourers expelled. In an attempt at survival, someone from the monastery offered sweet pastries for sale in the shop; pastries that rapidly became known as ‘Pasteis de Belém’.” It well worth a visit as the taste of the Pasteis are to die for, they also do a large selection of various other cakes and pasteries to suite all tastes. It’s worth wandering around the restaurant as there are lots of little rooms where you can sit and eat it’s quite warren once inside, you can also see them baking the various delicacys behind a glass wall, there is also a small museum telling the history of the place. Well worth the visit. Nest stop was the museum of modern art the Museu Berado, entrance is free and it is well worth a look around, with works by Picasso, Warhol and many more interesting exhibits.


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