We booked a place in Lisbon for 3 days using Airbnb. We only committed to 3 days, because we weren’t sure we would like it. After the first 15 minutes at Elsa’s place this was a joke, because we loved it! We loved the city driving in, with its interesting, artistic graffiti, we loved the little cafe where she told us to meet her, we loved her neighborhood, Belem, and we loved her well-stocked apartment.
The street we stayed on was a few blocks and a whole word away from the more touristic main road, with its famous custard tart shop, Casa Pasteis De Belem. The desert, pastel de nata, is a specialty of the Portuguese.
The most famous place, was always too incredibly busy, but we did have the delicious tarts, from one of the other hundreds of nice cafes/pastry shops. They taste a lot like creme brulee on the inside.
Casa Pasteis De Belem brought in large crowds, as did the 500 year old Jeronimo Monastery.
Our apartment area, away from the crowds, was so charming; full of adorable little old ladies chatting each other in the streets and old men socializing in the many tiny cafes. Most of the buildings had teensy-weensy doorways and were covered in fantastic tile designs.
Per Elsa’s recommendation, we immediately headed to a local market. For 8 Euros, about $12, we got two kinds of fresh style cheese, tons olives, a big piece of sausage and bottles of water. This helped make good meals and snacks for a couple days.
The apartment also came with one of our favorite things- bikes! It was very close to a riding path on the beautiful Tagus river. The path crosses a couple other well known land marks, like Belem tower.
All we had seen was Belem and we had already seen so much!
The other really striking thing we saw was a red bridge that immediately reminded us both of San Fransisco’s Golden Gate, with a statue like Christ the Redeemer, from in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The bridge was originally named for the well-loved and hated, António de Oliveira Salazar, who ruled from 1932-1968. The new leader, Estado Novo, had a military coup launched at him in 1974. Instead of a successful coup, the people rose up, leading to a democratic government and a the end of Portugal’s colonial control in Africa and Asia. This is celebrated every year on April 25th as freedom day.
The Salazar Bridge became the April 25th Bridge. People that do not want their politics known, just call it The Bridge.
Portugal’s replica of Christ the Redeemer is called Christ the King, Creisto Rei. The Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon visited the inauguration of Christ the Redeemer in 1931 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Approval for Lisbon’s own statue was given in 1940 as a plea to keep Portugal out of World War II. When it was finally started in 1959, it was made as a thanks for keeping Portugal out of the war. The statue is at the end of The Bridge, and everywhere we went in Belem, it helped us navigate the hilly streets and find our way.