I spent a good part of the day in the Belem district, exploring sites like the Belem tower, the Monument to the Discoveries, and the Maritime Museum. Then I couldn't end my visit to the Belem district without a stop at the Belem Pastry shop mentioned in Rick Steves' books.
I checked out of my hotel and then dropped off big part of my backpack in a locker at the train station on my way to the Belem district. The Belem district was about 9 km from train station, so I took a taxi. Along the way I finally got to test out the navigational capabilities of my GPS device. I asked it to show me the route from the train station to the Belem tower and the taxi ended up taking almost the exact route, following the turns as the device pointed them out. A side benefit here is that it is an expensive way to ensure the taxi driver is honest!
Speaking of taxis, riding in a car down old cobblestone streets in kind of rough!
When I left the Belem district I headed back to central Lisbon for some dinner and another walk through the Alfama neighbourhood. It's amazing how many buildings in the Alfama neighbourhood look condemned. Yet next door to many of these buildings are others that have been renovated.
I had a bit of a wait at the train station before our departure for Madrid, so I just hung around to take in the activities. I sat in the waiting room for a short while, but it was too hot in there and it had a bunch of pigeons lingering around! So, I moved out to the boarding area near the tracks where it was much cooler, had fewer pigeons, and had more activity to take in. Security in this train station is minimal, just a couple unarmed security guards walking around. Unlike other train stations the lockers for storing luggage are in the open and anybody can just walk up and deposit something in them. In other places like Paris or Madrid you need to pass through an airport type security check and run you luggage through and x ray scanner.
Speaking of lockers, those at the Lisbon station require exact change to get your luggage out. They won't even allow you to put in more money than is owing. For example, I had to pay 1.50 Euros to get my luggage out, however all I had was 1.60 (1 Euro and three 20 cent pieces) and it wouldn't take that!
While waiting at the train station I discovered my Lonely Planet phrase book had an error in the Portuguese section. It has the words for arrival and departure reversed!
Lisbon is definitely the least expensive place I've been to so far, both the hotel and meals were excellent for the price. However, I'm not sure I would want to stay in the city much more than a couple days. If I would have be able to get the later departure train I originally wanted I would have taken a side trip to Sintas.
Here a few more pictures from Lisbon.
The Belem Tower. This tower was built between 1514 and 1520 to guard the port of Lisbon at the point where the Tejo River meets the Atlantic Ocean. It was classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1983.
Photo of the April 25 bridge and the Cristo Rei monument from the inside of the tower.
Photo of yours truly on the roof of the tower. That is the Atlantic ocean behind me. Almost directly behind me a few thousand kilometers across the Atlantic is Cape Cod south east of Boston, one of the places I visited on my coast to coast trip last summer.
Just a short ways east of the Belem Tower is the Monument to the Discoveries, erected in 1960 for the Portuguese World Exposition. A long both side of this monument are a series of statues of important individuals in the history of Lisbon. The top of this monument is an observation deck. The next few photos where taken from up there.
A few nice yachts next to the monument.
A close up of the south tower of the April 25 bridge and the Cristo Rei monument.
A big cargo ship to the south of monument dwarfs a couple sailing boats.
Looking north east of the monument we see the center of Lisbon.
The Belem Tower and the Atlantic ocean are off to the west.
The Belem Cultural Center is just to the north west.
The Maritime Museum and the Mosterio Dos Jeronimos to the north of the monument.
The side walk leading up to the monument. The decoration is called a Wind Rose. It was donated by the Republic of South Africa and contains many different types of marble. Inlaid ships and caravels mark the main routes of the Portuguese voyages of discovery.
The last building I visited as part my maritime museum tour. This building was almost as fascinating as its contents. The structure was concrete, but it almost seemed like cast aluminium, the south wall had large sections of stained glass, and the roof was such that it let in indirect sun light from the north (not visible in this photo).
Here's the pastry shop mentioned in Rick Steves' books. I stopped in and picked up a package of these awesome pastries.
And finally a couple more photos from the Alfama neighbourhood as I headed to the train station for trip to Madrid and Barcelona.