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The Belém District of Lisbon

Hey! Long time no see. Sorry I’ve been really busy with my new work and I barely find anytime to blog. When I reached home, I’ll be too tired to do anything. Last year, I went to the The Belém District of Lisbon, Portugal. That was my first time going to Europe and I find it really amazing. Seriously, I think if you’re a traveller you need to visit Portugal.

It takes me more than 12 hours to go to Lisbon from Tokyo because there’s no direct flight to Portugal. I need to either transit at The Netherland or Paris. My transit in Netherland was around 3 hours and from Netherland, it was another 2 hours flight to Lisbon. There’s 9 hours time difference with Japan.


The transport

I stayed in this area near the subway station Oriente. The area is really close to the airport, has major bus routes, and trains to other parts of Portugal. The downside of staying is this area is that the distance to the city centre is still a bit far.

I don’t really get the jetlag, but for some reason I woke up really early. So I decided that probably I should get to the city centre. In Lisbon, you pay more if you buy one-time ticket, so I’d rather suggest you to buy Viva Viagem Card which you can top-up (requires €0.50 deposits). The fee for 1 trip (bus or metro) will deduct €1.40.

And the place I visited is… The Belém District


Belém District

Belém is located on the west-central part of Lisbon and it’s one of the most iconic tourist district in Lisbon. You’ll expect the place to be crowded in summer or weekend.

It took me about 1-hour bus ride to reach Belém and the bus stop is right next to Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. This monastery is famous for its Gothic style architecture. Together with Torre de Belem,  Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is listed as one of UNESCO Heritage Site.

You’ll need to pay €7.00 to get inside the monastery, however, the church area is free of charge. I went inside the church because the line to the monastery was really long and I need to attend a meeting in the afternoon.

This monastery also related to early explorer, Vasco da Gama where he spent his last night here before his voyage to India.

If you want to avoid the crowds, there’s Jardim Botânico near the monastery. At the street next to the monastery you’ll find a lot of cafes and restaurant. One that you should try is Pasteis de Belem which sells Portugal traditional tart (it’s really good, you should try it) called Pastéis de Nata. This particular shop has been established for years and one of the local told me that it’s one of the original or the very first shop that sell the pastry.


Torre de Belem

The establishment around this area might be a bit more expensive because it’s touristy area. If you want a cheaper option, you can search at the street behind the monastery.

Torre de Belem is about 15-minutes walk from the monastery. It’s quite a pleasant walk. I went there in the end of May and the weather was hot. However, you can see a lot of beautiful scenery in the waterfront walk to Torre de Belem.

The Belém Tower is situated on the northern bank of the Tagus River in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém. It was a defence fortress with an interesting exterior design. I did not get inside, again because the queue was awesome. For more info about Torre de Belem you can check it here

If you walk around the tower, you will find several food vendors, cafe and restaurant. Cafe and restaurants might be pricier. I had my lunch in this Portugal/Latin Restaurant called Vela Latina. The food is good and it’s a self-service restaurant. You get to choose 3 of the dishes (and the portion is really big).

Another things you can enjoy in Belem is you can take a waterbus (Hippo tour) like this:

This Hippo Tour costs around €25,00 for adults and €15,00 for children and seniors and you can reserve through their website. However, if you want to save money, instead of taking this tour, you could take a ferry that cross to the other side (Tejo side).


Padrão dos Descobrimentos

On the way back to the bus station, I drop by Padrão dos Descobrimentos. It’s a monumen located at the waterfront walk between the monastery and the tower.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos is one of the most iconic monument in Lisbon. It was built to honour the Portuguese Explorers. On both sides, there’re statues of the early explorers, supporting the main statue of Henry the explorers ( Infante D. Henrique)

It’s not only just a monument, you can go to the top of the monument and get the best view of the Jeronimo Monastery and Torre de Belem.


Tl;dr

And that’s summarise my first day at Lisbon. I only spent like 2-3 hours at Belem to recover my sore muscle, beside, I got meeting to catch 😉

It’s a nice area with nice scenery and nice food. The only downside of Belem is… this area will always be crowded. There will always be a queue in the Monastery and the Tower. Always keep watch of your belonging. Portugal is safe, but there’ll be bad people in crowded area.

Another question I got from my friend here in Japan is.. do people there speak English? Um.. yes and no. The younger people are more fluent in English compared to the older generation. Even that, not all the younger generation speak English. Google is your friend but the local are also nice and helpful.

See you on my next post, still in Portugal

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