The tech event hasn't started yet -- I came here a few days early to make it more of a vacation -- and so I spent another day gallivanting around Lisbon. This morning took us over to Belem on the western seashore coast, to quite an impressive place, the Jeronimos Monastery, built around 1500. Well, started then, the building process went on for a long while. Vasco da Gamma is buried here, and his tomb is in the main cathedral.
The courtyard reminded me a bit of the courtyard at Oxford University, which you might recall in the movie, Chariots of Fire when they have their race around the corridors. But to be clear, there was a whole lot more to the impressive edifice than just that. And this here got there first by about 150 years.
Afterwards we stopped a block away at a bakery for a mediocre lunch but a great desert which was the point. The place, Pasteis de Belem, which was founded in 1837. They're known for a particular pastry, which other places call "pasteis de nata," but theirs go by the name of the restaurant. It's sort of of a flaky pastry dough cup filled with a creamy custard, though custard is usually thicker or more gelatinous than this.
It really was delicious and I understand their looooong reputation. Not for the regular menu though. I had a "chicken spread" sandwich, that I assume was their translation of a chicken salad. Nope, it was literally that -- shredded chicken on bread. They did provide a couple of mayonnaise packets though which helped, sort of. But it was their pastry that made it worthwhile.
Even the elves back taking care of the homestead got a bit jealous when I told them about the dish. It turns out that elves love pastries...
Afterwards, we wandered nearby to the harbor estuary that leads to the ocean. They have an impressive, modern statue-like structure that's a tribute to mariners and navigators, shaped like a ship's prow. While we were there, a tall ship entered the harbor which was nice to see. And a street singer performed a fairly shaky but sweet rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
(Given that the local name of the city is Lisboa, when I saw this written on the rear of sailboats docked in the harbor, I noted that they were missing a great opportunity, even if would be mixing languages. All one had to do was simply add a "t" and make it a Lisboat.)
Then, heading down to where the estuary opens up into the ocean is Belem Tower. It was used in part as a guard sentry for ships entertaining into Lisbon, but probably more in its other function as a prison, though it's not all that big, as far as towers and prisons go.
Another very good dinner, this time at Pinoquio's. More fish for me, but with only a touch of cod. I shared a double-paella with two others. I'd been looking for the dish since I got here -- yes, I know it's mainly considered a Spanish dish, but hey, it's the Iberian Peninsula. No fan of squid am I, so that left more of that for the others, but clams, lobster, scampi, shrimp, and...yes, cod, along with very tasty rice. And a terrific, lively waiter who helped make the evening enjoyable, particularly considered our group that kept wanting things moved around in our patio seating, mainly the outdoor heaters.
And now back to the hotel, and writing this up, and off to bed.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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