Day 2 - Belém, Cristo Rei, and More of Lisbon

if it's all right
I wanna kick it with you all night, all night
have a good time
ain't gotta worry 'cause it's all right
it's all right

All Night - Big Boi

Day 2 was spent exploring on my own. I love days when I get to explore on my own. As written in the previous post, the day before I bought the transport ticket. Chose a 24-hour pass. It comes in different options and I chose the one that include ferry to and from Cacilhas because though I was getting lazy I thought I should stick to the plan of visiting Cristo Rei. So this travel card that I chose cost 9.85 euro and you just tap in and out when using public transports. Getting a day pass definitely makes things easier, but you do have to calculate if you will be making enough trips to cover the cost. I think I did.

First stop was to Belém. To go there you take tram 15 and lucky me, the tram starts just in front of my hotel. Did a lot of preparation for every trip, but there's always something I overlooked. Well I didn't look up the schedule, so when I went down to the stop, I found out that I needed to wait some time. When the tram was about to come, a staff came asking people if they had their tickets. I thought this is kinda nice You can buy tickets from him before getting on the tram rather than making the tram driver busy having to handle passengers. The good thing about hopping in on the first stop, all the seats were available. Tram 15 itself is more modern that the other trams and it's longer so it has more seats, however this gets filled out pretty much by the next stop. By the time we reached Praça do Comércio, it was so crowded that newcomers all had to stand. I couldn't remember how long the journey was. Google map would tell you it's 40 mins or so, I guess that's about right.

I changed my plan a bit the more I prepared for my trip, so instead of stopping at the main thing that I wanted to visit, Jerónimos Monastery, I decided to go to Belém tower first and then walk to the monastery. The stop to the tower is 2 stops after the monastery. Everyone mostly got off at the monastery. Some tourists I think got it wrong and got off a stop before the monastery. Anyway basically the tram was emptying out when we reached the monastery. From my stop, it wasn't that far to walk to the tower. I did have my worry that I was going to be lost, but I managed to figure out my orientation and there were other tourists too. I didn't have a plan to enter the tower, because I'm not a fan of walking up enclosed stairs. I wrote this so many times :D The tower itself is not very big and tall. A prince wouldn't have problem rescuing a princess locked up in there. By the time I reached, there was already quite a queue to enter.

After that, I made my way to the Discovery Monument which I think is an ode to the great Portuguese explorers. At the front is Henry the Navigator, which I am ashamed to say I have no knowledge of whatsoever. I am googling and reading up on him. There is also only 1 lady at this monument, she's Philippa of Lancaster and I am also googling her up. The monument is tall and at one side, you see a relief of a sword. I thought that was very cool.

On the floor near this monument, there's also this very cool tiling that shows the map of the world and the years in which I think the Portuguese explorers arrived. Indonesia has like 5 centuries of history and really back in school, it got quite tough having to memorize all the dates and such. I don't remember much anymore, but I do remember that the Portuguese arrived in Indonesia first, even before the Dutch and I remember they arrived in 1511. So when I saw this map and saw 1512, I don't know why that is. Is that the date when they completed the fort? Because there is a remain of a Portuguese fort in Maluku.

Then I made my way to Jerónimos Monastery. The queue was long and the sun was hot and thank God, I booked the ticket beforehand. This is something that I like to do these days, if there's anything that can be booked beforehand, I'll do it. So I basically breezed through. The monastery is quite big and the sculptures all around are all different and unique. The cloister is quite plain though, just grass. There's some exhibitions and there's a room where there's the tomb of Alexandre Herculano. I don't know who that is. He's just very important in the history of Portugal. There are 2 floors and at one section of the upper floor, you get to see the inside of Church of Santa Maria. I spent quite a long time here, looking at the unique sculptures.


After that I went to the church next door, Church of Santa Maria. It's free to enter and there isn't a queue. The church is quite impressive. It has high ceiling and this section of the ceiling is particularly beautiful for me.

There's a treasury and you have to pay to enter. Here I met the Canadian couple from the day before. The day before we found out that everyone in the group was planning to go to Belém that day, but I only saw this Canadian couple. They're the only one who talked to me so I guess that's why they could still recognize me and said hi. They didn't go to the monastery because they said the queue was too long and it was quite a hot day. Book people, please book if you're planning to go. There are precious items inside the treasury but I guess because I couldn't appreciate them, I didn't stay long and pretty much don't have much recollection of them now. Other interesting thing in the church is the the tomb of Vasco da Gama. I thought it's very cool to have seen that. There's a boat relief in his tomb, obviously because he's an explorer. After I got out, I took some exterior photos of the church.

I spent quite a long time there and I think it was already like lunch time, but instead of taking a proper meal, there's one more stop, the famous Pasteis de Belém. They're famous for the egg tart or Pastéis de Nata as they call in Portuguese. There's a queue for take away and the recommendation is to eat inside the shop because they have a spacious space inside. Stupid me didn't go all the way in, I just quickly sat on the first empty table I found. It was quite a busy place, the waiters were busy walking around serving people. Once one got to me, I ordered 2 egg tarts and tea. Actually there are like other tempting snacks inside the window display, but there isn't like a written menu and I was afraid it'd take too long if I asked and the main reason I was there was the egg tarts so that's the only thing I ordered. The egg tarts came and gosh they were really good. However I think the reason why they're good is because it's freshly baked and hence the cream custard was soft and crumbly. I think that's the thing why egg tart here in Singapore is not that amazing. It's rare to find fresh from the oven kind (at least for me) so when we buy them, the cream has set and coagulated and not as soft. The Belém egg tarts were so good that I embarrassingly ordered another one. I was quite embarrassed about it, really. For my third one, I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon. I couldn't have eaten more, but I had to restrain myself. I miss those egg tarts now *sigh* When I used their rest room, I found out that inside there's really a big space and it's not full. I should have gone in really. I also saw their production line. Their kitchen has windows and you can see the amount of egg tarts they produce, it's a lot and it's so interesting. I could just stand there and watch, but I thought that would be too weird so I didn't and I also didn't take any picture. Yes, I have no picture at all from Pastéis de Belém, but believe me it's good, spend some time there when you're in the area.

For pictures from Belém, please go here. After that the plan was to go to Cristo Rei. So I took tram 15 back (which was really crowded then) to Cais do Sodré where there's a metro station and the ferry terminal that has boats to Cacilhas where Cristo Rei is located. There's also the Time Out Market and though I know it's touristy and most probably gonna be crowded, I thought I'd try my luck there for lunch. To describe Time Out Market in Singapore lingo, it is an atas hawker center. In proper English, it's a more elevated or higher class food court. Higher class food courts are appearing in Singapore too and people do look at it as being snobbish though people actually eat there too, just to try it out so they say :D If Time Out Market appears in Singapore, first I don't know how successful that'll be because hawker centers are everywhere in Singapore. One that positions itself as higher class and is more expensive will most probably be met with some sort of mockery, but you know people here do buy into the hype. So anyways, being the tourist that I was, I was ... being a tourist. I can't explain it any other way why I went there. The food court was crowded and I did wonder if it's a good idea, what if I ordered and couldn't find a seat. Then the next question was what to eat. I think I went around 3 times before deciding. There's Asian food, but no please, I'd just get disappointed. Since I already had three egg tarts, my hunger level wasn't high and so I decided on octopus stew with sweet potato. Most of the places give you beeper that beeps when your order is ready. Found an empty seat nearby, so I sat there while waiting. When my beeper beeped, I quickly went to get my food hoping no one took my place and the cleaning lady nearby didn't clear my bottle of water. It was quite amazing to me that I managed to get a seat. I did have that problem of not having people watching my place when I went to get my food, but I thought if I had been with some people, it would have been difficult to get places for all of us.

Anyways the stew was interesting. The portion was surprisingly not a lot. Aside from sweet potatoes in the stew, there's also sweet potato chips. The octopus was very soft which is okay, but I realize that like squid, I would rather the octopus be more chewy. Now, this Time Out Market food court is actually located next to an actual working market. By the time I finished eating, this market was closed though. I think it's closed at 02:30 pm. I kinda regretted not going into it before I went to eat and see how the market really looks like. Anyway so then after lunch, I walked to the ferry terminal. Upon arriving I didn't see the sign for the Cacilhas ferry. I thought, gosh this is not straightforward. Luckily before I asked someone, I turned 90 degrees and saw the direction. That was silly of me, I thought of myself. I waited for a bit before the ferry came. It wasn't full and I sat on the outside looking at Lisbon, getting more sun (I got back many shades darker), but the wind was good. Upon arriving in Calcihas, I made my way to the bus terminal and when I located it, I saw bus 101 leaving. Gosh, that is the bus I supposed to take and they only depart every half an hour :( So then I walked to the nearby lighthouse looking at some old men fishing. Some also sat by the lighthouse and there I sat too wishing I could understand Portuguese so that I could understand what they're talking about. Some of the uncles fishing managed to get some fish. It's a small kind of silvery fish. Around half an hour later, I went to the bus stop. The transport card doesn't work here because it's not considered Lisbon anymore, so you need to pay to the driver directly. If I'm not mistaken, it's 1.45 euro.

What is Cristo Rei? It's this big Jesus statue. It's my first time seeing something like this. The compound is very big and when I was there were not many people. I'm not sure if the church (or is it a chapel because it's not very big) is used for worship every Sunday. Maybe it is. The statue itself is located high up this tower pedestal. It's 6 euro to take the lift up which I did because come on, I made the effort to go all the way there. The lift didn't go all the way up up, there's still some stairs you need to take. I was getting worried because stairs and enclosed space, again I don't do them well. Luckily it's not a lot. The statue still looks very big up close.

It was windy up there and you get a different view of Lisbon across the Tagus river. You also get a nice view of the 25 de Abril Bridge. The colour may remind you of the Golden Gate Bridge, but somehow when I was there and passing it from the streets, it reminded me more of New York, like the Brooklyn Bridge.

I don't think I spent a long time there. I made sure I was down to catch the bus. For pictures from this visit, please go here.

The timing was better going back that I straight away went to the ferry after the bus. Again I sat outside. Next was taking the metro from Cais do Sodré to Restauradores. It's not like I'm a fan of metro or subways, but it's nice taking this because common people take this everyday, so it's like getting a peek of the local life. Not gonna lie, there's a moment of confusion on the direction inside the metro station, but I made it. They're actually not far from each other, but I did have to change line. Getting out of Restauradores station, luckily the exit that I chose was quite correct and I didn't have much trouble figuring out my orientation. The plan was to try the 2 ascensors or funiculars nearby. First was the further up, Lavra funicular. Okay it's called ascensor or funicular, but for all intent and purposes, they look exactly like the tram. It's just these ones just go up and down a steep hill. When I arrived at the bottom of Lavra funicular, the tram just arrived. I could go in immediately and took a seat, but we had to wait awhile before setting off. On top, the exit was like a quiet neighborhood. I took a short walk around, found a small park nearby. It had quite an okay view of Lisbon, but I didn't spend a long time there. On the way up with the funicular and as I walked around, I saw a lot of graffiti which is very common in Lisbon, so I just took a few photos of the ones I thought rather interesting. The monster below looked interesting to me :D

Then it's Ascensor da Glória. Apparently this one is more popular. When I arrived there's already a queue and the tram was getting crowded that I decided to skip and wait for the next one. It was quite a wait, they don't go very fast, but standing in a crowded tram is just something that I didn't feel like doing. Also as mentioned, much has been written about pickpockets. When the next tram came, I got to sit and I thought it's better than standing. The way up the hill featured more interesting graffiti on the walks. On the top, there's like this small open market where you can find snacks and food and people were just having fun enjoying the evening and the view is quite nice. A group of string players were playing the Game of Thrones theme. That was something familiar to hear :) Anyway, I guess this kind of environment is why this funicular is more popular.

Since the tram was always full (seriously by comparison Lavra funicular felt so calm), I decided to walk down instead of taking the funicular again. It is quite steep and I had to go slow on some parts. Took pictures of the interesting graffiti and the passing tram. This is basically what they look like. It's not very big and it's graffiti all over them too.

I also decided to walk back to my last stop which is also near my hotel. The 3 squares: Restauradores, Rossio, and Figueira are quite near each other. My last stop was Santa Justa Lift. The funiculars and this lift were chosen to maximize the use of my transport day pass. This lift is not free and like the name indicates, it's literally just a lift that take you up. I was thinking how nice it was to go up nearer to sunset and when I arrived it's still quite bright. There was quite a queue, but I thought it would be going quite fast so I wouldn't get the sunset time. How wrong I was, it was going so slow that there were many times when I thought I should just give up. There were many people around me giving up and I kept on thinking if it's stupid waiting that long just to go up a lift. Somehow I didn't give up. It may have taken me more than 1-hour wait. It's quite silly, I wouldn't do this again if I have to wait that long. Nearer to the lift entrance, I saw that there's actually 2 lifts, but the other one didn't work and then they only put just a few number of people inside the lift. There are benches and most of us just sat while going slowly up. Up there, you can walk the small bridge or pay a bit more to take the stairs up to the roof. I forgot how much it cost, maybe 3 euro. I went up and in the end, I did get a bit of dusk view. It's all God's plan making me wait that long. You can see the castle and also Rossio square from above.

With the sun setting, it's getting chilly and the wind was rather strong so I just quickly took a few pictures. Another reason why I didn't want to linger is because I was afraid it's another queue taking the lift down. Luckily it wasn't so. When I got down, I saw that there's no longer a queue for the lift. It's closing it seemed. I wonder if they had to turn down people. That would suck because people waited a long time in the queue. I think by the time I reached my room, it was 9 PM, I couldn't quite remember. A long day, but a nice day spent alone :)

:) eKa @ 8:56:00 PM •

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