Delights of LisbonApril 21, 2017 in Portugal
We began our tour of Lisbon today under the leadership of our guide Anna by visiting St. Jerome monastery. Afterwards we went to the explorers monument and also to Belem tower. We had lunch at a lovely restaurant called The Patio and then went to the Convent of the Mother of God. That building is now a museum to the blue tiles for which Lisbon is famous, the "azulejos." The architecture is an amazing reminder of the former glory of the Kingdom of Portugal. This nation had the good fortune of "getting in on the ground floor" of the explorations of the sixteenth century. Much of the early wealth realized in that enterprise found its way to this city and the remnants of that wealth are indeed glorious. Failure to reinvest this wealth, along with competition from other nations, left Portugal as an economic and political backwater by the end of the eighteenth century. Still, Portugal was not completely erased. There is a monument to an early Portuguese airplane that made the first transatlantic crossing. It is fortunate, though, that Portugal has maintained her buildings and the art. It was interesting that there were quite a few Brazilian restaurants here, and also Brazilian food and music. It is as though the mother country was affected as much by her daughter as Brazil was by Portugal. The food here is fantastic, and there is a lovely old ambience to the city that must make it a delightful place to live.
We visited a museum for carriages and coaches that has an interesting recent history. It seems that the European Union had voted funds to be distributed to its member nations for historical and artistic purposes. Portugal was not about to turn down free money, so it accepted a major grant from the EU without any clear purpose in mind. Years passed until the European Union finally told Portugal either to use the money or return it. The Portuguese government was quite undecided about how to spend the funds and very nearly lost them. Finally they realized that Portugal possessed one asset that few other nations in Europe had--an abundance of historical carriages and coaches. A team of historians used the money to renovate an old warehouse. Then they got the owners of these old vehicles to loan them to the museum. Now there is a very interesting and very large museum housing everything from sedan chairs to royal coaches. I realized that many of the places we visited can be photographed better from the ship. So as we leave Lisbon I plan to be on the sky deck taking pictures.Read more