Apartments flags at Oriente

This is a continuation of the previous blog where I wrote that we spent our first day in Lisbon in Oriente. This is how it went.

Apartments flags at Oriente

Apartment block built to look like a cruise ship,

On exiting the very large shopping mall, the Vasco da Gama Centre, we found ourselves in a large paved area, known as the Park of Nations, with flags fluttering on high poles down one side. There was one for every country represented at the World Science Exposition held here in March 1998. The whole area was developed specifically for this Exposition. Behind the flags was a very large arena which we could not go into as it was closed. It was used in 1998 for the plenary sessions. Today it is occasionally used for music shows or other entertainment which draws large crowds.

Da gama centreThe Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre 

On either side of the Centre was a block of apartments which were designed to look like cruise ships. Today they house some of the most expensive homes in Lisbon with beautiful views over the River Tagus which is a few kms wide at some places. Hard for us from South Africa to comprehend where we have small, non-navigable rivers.

Cruise boat on River TagusA cruise boat on th eRiver Tagus

We wandered around this open area admiring a number of sculptures the first of which was an abstract about 3m high. At its base sat a gentleman surrounded by posters which, unfortunately, were all in Portuguese. Our guess was that he was protesting silently about something as there were a lot of exclamation marks. The person at the Information Kiosk said that he had never bothered to read the posters so didn’t know what it was all about. Apparently he had been there a few weeks and had new posters on a regular basis.

Abstract sculptureThe abstract sculpture in front of the Centre and the other block of apartments

torsosSculpture of torsos – people are separate but dependent

Further down, towards the River Tagus, there were the usual restaurants and take-away facilities. The whole area was beautifully paved and clean. Later we saw that although there was no litter very little gardening or clearing of weeds had been done. What was also really nice about the whole Oriente area is that it is flat and well paved making it possible for anyone to walk on or for a pram or wheelchair to be manoeuvred around.

We spent quite a long time looking for the da Gama Tower to which there were direction arrows all over the place but we could not see the Tower. We continued walking and admiring everything coming to a beautiful hotel right on the river bank. We went inside, really wanting to see what it was like inside, using the excuse to make use of the ablution facilities. It was quite magnificent. Out of our financial range I must be honest.

Hotel da Gama TowerThe da Gama Hotel and Tower and 17km long bridge

Along the banks of the Tagus River is an aerial cable car. We decided to take the ride so as to be able to see more especially of a bridge built across the river being finished in time for the Exposition. It is a very long bridge with viaducts and tolls. It was built to make a second connection between the 2 banks of the river and has been described as up to 17kms long depending whether measured from the point where the very first pylon is on land or from the first viaduct. And the name of the bridge is. The Vasco da Gama Bridge. As I mentioned in the previous blogs, Portugal is very proud of its past sea faring explorers and da Gama tops the list. The cable car ends at the hotel and, guess what, there was the da Gama tower. We were right there and did not know it as there was no sign there!

Cable car at Oriente

 Some of the cable cars across the inlet of the Tagus River

Across an inlet of the river are the Oceanarium (which we chose to visit another time), an Interactive Science Centre, a Cinema and Casino, a number of themed gardens and 4 water volcanoes.


The Oceanarium


The Casino

The Science Centre was a wonderful place for children starting with a large mural of the Periodic Table with a little boy working with it. In a large open space are various fun things to do based on different branches of science. These included a world globe which was situated upside down as North and South are man-made and viewing Earth from the moon it does not have these unnatural divisions. There was a walk through a fountain where one cannot get wet if walked through in the right way. Children just loved this. Of course many of them did get wet as that was more fun.

periodic table

The Periodic Table

science fun

Science made fun

We went to a few of the themed gardens – water plants, desert plants, Asian plants, shady trees etc and were very disappointed to see that these had been left to deteriorate badly. It did let down the beauty of the place quite considerably. My cousin who was in Portugal at the time said that generally the Portuguese are not great gardeners.

Garden in OrienteA water garden

The other thing of interest that we saw were 4 water volcanoes. They were in a line stretching from the shopping centre to the Science Centre and were situated in a beautiful shady walkway. While taking a rest one of these volcanoes threw up a huge spout of water. Not expecting this to happen we did not have the camera ready so we decided to be prepared for the next one. After waiting about 10mins with no activity we decided to move on. No sooner had we stood up when the next one in the line, close enough for a photo, spewed its water and we missed that photo opportunity as well.

water volcano

Water volcano