My mom and I are both somewhat early risers, so we were up and ready to go explore Belem on Day 2 in Portugal.
First, I tried finding some caffeine - but everywhere that I stopped informed me that they didn't offer coffee to go. I'm all about the European belief in taking a minute to stop and enjoy your coffee - but I really just wanted something to sip on during our trip!
I was proud of the fact that we took the bus instead of relying on a taxi.
Stop number one in Belem when we disembarked our bus was for the coffee I had failed to get earlier that morning (I'm being dramatic - it was a 20 minute bus ride).
This cafe is an adorable converted tram painted bright yellow with outdoor seating right where the bus stops. I was shocked that it wasn't overrun with people - though we did arrive fairly early.
I thoroughly enjoyed my coffee here! I believe they have multiple locations, light food options and supposedly stellar sangria as well.
We walked around this impressive building and to be honest, I hadn't done much research about which areas to visit, tour, buy a ticket to, etc. We joined a line and paid to enter one of the areas and spent some time walking around, reading about some statues, and taking in the intricate details. I believe where we ended up was the South Portal of the monastery.
I wish I was one of those history buffs who gets really into looking at impressive old churches, but I have to admit I'm really not. I do appreciate their history and beauty, though. And show me some stained glass and I'm thrilled.
We ended up here purely because we were in search of a public restroom. Turns out, entry to this modern and contemporary art museum was free on Saturday's!
The entire Centro Cultural de Belém was a beautiful place to walk around. The grounds were architecturally unique with lots of pretty landscaping and places to sit out on green grass. I'm glad we happened to stroll through!
This is a large monument next to the Tagus River that celebrates that Age of Discovery in Portugal. You know the guys - you read all about them in 8th grade history class. Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias, Ferdinand Magellan...yep, all Portuguese!
From atop the Centro Cultural de Belém we had a pretty good view of the monument - and didn't feel that it required a separate stop, though it's definitely an impressive structure. You can pay for a ticket to go into the structure, but I have read that the view isn't anything incredible.
5. Torre de Belém
We walked from the museum over to the Torre de Belem (passing this amazing piece of art along the way!)
From a distance, it looked just like a raccoon. The closer you got to the wall, the more you realized it was just a bunch of random odds and ends! So cool.
The Belem Tower is one of the main reasons that people visiting Lisbon make the journey to Belem. Though I had read that it wasn't necessarily worth the wait and ticket price to go up inside, we did walk along the water until we reached the tower. The tower once stood on an island in the middle of the river. The Tagus River has since been redirected and the tower now sits right on the shore.
We snapped some pictures in the touristy area and I thoroughly enjoyed the adorable "Wine With A View" cart parked in the lot. We passed some similar carts with delicious looking IPAs.
You KNOW I wasn't about to pass up sampling Portugal's most famous pastry! Though it wasn't a donut, I was still excited to compare some of the cities most popular pasteis de nata. These crispy, custard-y sweets are to Portugal what croissants are to France. And according to many, the pasteis of Pasteis de Belem are the best you can get.
This shop has been around since 1837 - and the website claims that the recipe hasn't been altered since the time it was created at the monastery next door.
While the line outside snakes down the sidewalk, I had read that there is a ton of seating inside (along with restrooms - which we were always on the hunt for!)
We walked inside and were astonished to see how much it opened up inside (and that despite the huge number of tables, it was still packed!) We took a seat and ordered coffee and a pastry for each of us. Service was a little stressful in the chaotic restaurant, but it was well worth it when we were presented with two beautiful pasteis de Belem - along with our own containers of powdered sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling!
I decided to take my first bite topping-free for a true taste test. On the count of three my mom and I both took a bite of our still-hot delicacies and stared wide eyed at each other as the initial crispy crunch of the crust gave way to creamy, sweet, rich custard.
My one complaint about pasteis de Belem is that they are NOT BIG ENOUGH (am I American or what)? We truly savored each and every delicious bite of our pastries and were both hesitant to finish off that last precious bite.
7. Walk from Belem to LX Factory
This was around a 30-35 minute walk, but it was worth it for all the pictures I got to take of beautiful tiled buildings.
8. LX Factory
Located in the Alcantara neighborhood, LXFactory was once the site of a massive fabric company in the 1860's. Now, it's a hip, trendy area filled with quirky shops, delicious restaurants, and fun bars.
Some of the stores were strange - they seemed to have 10 items that were super expensive and we wondered a) who shopped there and b) how they stayed in business. But there were also some nice stores with good souvenirs (and a pair of shoes I fell in love with but didn't quite fit).
There's also tons of cool street art to check out at the LXFactory.
9. Lunch at Rio Maravilha
After walking up and down the streets multiple times, we finally settled on a restaurant for our lunch - Rio Maravilha. It was such a cool setting - the interior was filled with unique furniture, a beautiful bar, a rooftop with lawn chairs, and the space where we ate which was an enclosed, bright patio with windows all the way around looking out over the Tejo River. The space was extremely colorful which I loved. You could tell this would be a trendy place for a night out.
My mom and I ordered some wine and a bunch of small plates to share. I've spent about 20 minutes trying to recall what exactly we ordered - all I have is this picture of what I'm thinking is some sort of pork dish. And I know we ordered the crispy rice with tomato chutney which were fried rice balls and pretty tasty!
After lunch, we wandered around shopping for awhile and searching for a local IPA. We kind of struck out, but eventually found a bar that served an Oitava Colina beer Urraca Vendaval -from "8th Hill" brewery (8A). It wasn't my favorite, but it was nice to sit outside and drink it in the sunshine.
10. Ginginha do Carmo
After some relaxing (and a little nap on my part) back at our apartment, we started our walk to dinner. But first, we had to stop for a shot of "ginginja" - a Portuguese tradition.
Ginginja (ginginha or ginja) is a cherry liquor that's only found in Portugal. There are tons of small windows that you can walk up to for a cheap shot of this super sweet substance - it's not super high in alcohol content, and it's also not usually taken as a shot by locals. Sometimes, the shot glass comes with a soaked sour cherry in the bottom.
At Ginginha do Carmo, which was right near our apartment, there's also the option to drink your ginginha out of a chocolate shot glass!
My mom and I sipped ours on the sidewalk - I wasn't a huge fan since it reminded me a lot of port wine. But glad we could check it off the Lisbon bucket list (ginginha is very prominent in Lisbon, but not as popular in places like Porto).
11. Dinner at BASTARDO
This was our big night out - eating at the New York Times reviewed Bastardo in the Internacional Design Hotel.
Though they had lost our reservation when we arrived, we sat down at the bar while we waited and ordered a cocktail. The tequila drink that I had high hopes for was a total flop. Despite the elaborate presentation (pineapple, pepper, bacon) it didn't taste like there was any alcohol in it at all and it took about 20 minutes for us to be served!
Eventually, we sat at the table where we waited about another 20-30 minutes for anyone to acknowledge our existence.
Despite the very poor service, we were entertained by the pop-art inspired atmosphere, the placements that proclaimed "On This Magic Placemat Calories Don't Count. You're Welcome. Enjoy." and the bread baskets made out of Legos.
The menu sections are titled "Ready" "Set" and "Go" which I also cracked a smile at.
I can't say I remember anything in particular that we ate at Bastardo - the food honestly wasn't that memorable, the service wasn't great, and it was a bit of a disappointment all around. The concept and design was interesting - but also a little over the top.
My mom's comment as we washed our hands in the bathroom sink filled with rocks was one of my favorite quotes of the night, "What do they think they are, Tao or something?"
12. Night out on Pink Street
Pink Street is actually part of Rua Nova do Carvalho - and it is, as the kids say, LIT.
During the day it's a pretty pink street but at night it transforms into party city. Think Broadway in Nashville or 6th Street in Austin - plus the unique night club atmosphere of European cities like Barcelona.
My mom was adamant that I wasn't dragging her into a night club for dancing - but I did get her to go join me at a wine bar with live music (I think we were subconsciously drawn into this bar because the guitarist was singing all American songs!)
The bar we had wandered in to was Pink Wine Point and it was lively (though every bar on the block seemed to be) and I fell in love with the bartender (the bartender was not aware that I existed, other than to pour me more wine).
Note: Negronis, Aperol Spritz and gin drinks are huge in Lisbon! It seemed to be all anyone ordered all night. Another drink that was everywhere? SOMERSBY! The cider I had fallen in love with in Copenhagen!
Post-vacation I looked up Pink Wine Point and it turns out it's very popular, with great reviews, on Yelp and TripAdvisor! Go us!
We walked back to our apartment where we fell into bed and sang a wonderful rendition of La Vie Boheme (complete with choreographed foot motions).
Day 3 coming up next!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: