We returned to the city using the hop on/hop off bus on our own another day to see more places of beauty and interest.
Basilica de Estrela in Lisbon
We purchased a hop on/hop off bus ticket and first went back to the Oriente to go to the Oceanarium and then took the bus to the City Gardens where we also saw the beautiful Basilica de Estrela. From there we went back to Belem, the hub of Lisbon. With our ticket we could go on a River Cruise but Trevor left his cap on the bus and after an hour of trying to find out where the bus had gone or how to retrieve the cap, the weather had turned so we left the cruise until the next day.
A very small part of the beautiful City Gardens
We took the first bus into town arriving just as the boat was about to leave but they kindly waited for us. We only went down river on the boat so as to have time to walk around Belem. We were keen to go up the Belem Tower but the queue was very long and a person in the queue said that they were told it would be a wait of about an hour. We were sorry to have missed this 16th century war memorial tower as it is said to be quite beautiful inside. It stands at the mouth of the Tagus River and was originally planned to be part of a defence system It was never used for this but it stood as a beacon to the explorers.
The Belem Tower. As you can see they were watering the grass
As we walked around the area we saw the Combatentes do Ultramar which is a monument to all those who died in the wars dating back to the 15th Century. It is also known as the Capela Memorial and is a must visit if one is in the area. It is free and a deeply moving experience.
In the same area is a seaplane which is an exact replica of the one Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral made the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic from Portugal to Brazil in 1922. They covered the 8 400kms in 79 days.
Replica of first seaplane to cross the South Atlantic
We took the bus to the next stop, the Monument of Discoveries, celebrating the Portuguese explorers of the 15th & 16th centuries. As we found in Oriente Vasco da Gama is hailed as their greatest explorer and so the Monument is in the shape of one of his boats with carved figures down the sides representing all others who went out on to the high seas. Near the base of the monument is a map of the world showing where the Discoverers landedIt is an extremely imposing monument visible from a great distance.
Monument of Discoveries
The paving at the monument is very cleverly laid. It is quite flat but gives the illusion of waves
Trevor stands where Durban is located and where da Gama landed on Christmas Day 1497.
Jeronnimos Monastry (left) and the Palace can be seen behind him
With no more time on our bus ticket we took a taxi to the 25 April Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Europe. This unusual name for a bridge came about because it was on that date in 1974 that the Dictator, António Salazar was overthrown. The bridge was originally called the Salazar Bridge when opened in 1966. In 1999 it became a dual bridge for both vehicle and trains. It is often compared with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Today there is a small museum explain the construction of the bridge and also a lift which takes one to just above the vehicle level. Here there is a glass base platform where one can go out and get better views and photos of Lisbon. Not recommended for those who get vertigo but a wonderful experience. While we were there 3 young people, 1 male and 2 females, were contemplating going on to the platform. He has no problem and one of the girls went tentatively. The 2nd girl was very nervous until Trevor took her by the hand and we explained to her to look straight ahead. She was so proud of herself.
25 April Bridge with statue of Christ in the background
Looking down on to the main road
On the way to the bridge we passed The Jerónimos Monastery, which like many other buildings of the Middle Ages, took over 100 years to complete. The Monastery and the Belem Tower are considered the 2 most important buildings in Portugal and are UN Heritage Sites. It was originally started by Monks of St Jerome but was secularised in 1933 by state decree and handed over to a charitable institution. Next to the Monastery is the former Palace of Salazar and is today the seat of the Parliament of Portugal.
We returned to the hotel on a Metro bus stopping alighting at the Bull Ring which was not far from the hotel. We were unable to see into the ring itself as that was locked but were surprised to find a full shopping centre on a lower floor. Even better was to find a supermarket where we purchased some supper and also were lucky enough to replace our broken backpack with one which was on sale and further reduce. It proved to be an excellent purchase. As we walked back to the hotel we passed a stadium, closed so we could not see inside, but on the outer walls was a large beautiful mural and a date of 1551.
Part of the mural at the stadium
On an aside, we have often been asked what we did about laundry while travelling for 3 months. Well, on this day, after we got back to the hotel, Trevor took the week’s laundry to a laundromat a short distance away so we left Lisbon with no dirty laundry.