The Retirees go Abroad – the Iberian Peninsula – the Tile Museum of Lisbon

Surprisingly the next morning was fine and clear. Everything looked fresh. We walked to the tram stop and waited and waited finally deciding to walk down to the old city. As we walked I saw a young girl in a window and thought a picture would be nice. When we finally arrived in the old city the reason for no tram became obvious. The city was closed due to the marathon being run that day (we met some Americans who mentioned they were participating in a marathon on Sunday) but we arrived just in time to see the lead runner and the next three runners enter the old town. So with the old town closed we decided to stroll through Chiado and up to an old church that was damaged in the 1755 earthquake and kept as a reminder of that time. We went there for another reason – the back door to a viewing tower of the city just to show we had found it. Alongside is the Garda Museum closely guarded but with free admission.

We were following the trail of the wine and food tour to revisit some of the highlights. We stopped at the oldest bookshop and then the first coffee shop and past one of the many chestnut vendors in the street. Around the corner and past Camao’s square and into the lane where we found Grapes and Bites. Then down the hill again through the restaurants onto the main square Praca Dom Pedro IV. The runners were still coming through so we decided to take a walk along Averigo do Campo Grande up to the statue to Marquess de Pombal. We returned to the old city by the Metro to Station Apollonian planning to go to the Tile Museum. However the bus did not turn up so I took a photo of the Museu Militar and we decided to walk back to the apartment via a new direction. And we stumbled across the Panteao Nacional and some new graffiti.

After lunch at home we returned to the bus stop and caught the 795 to Museu Nacional do Azulejo – the National Tile Museum. The museum is located in an old monastery and is a fabulous display of Portuguese tiles down through the centuries. We had some idea of the use of the tiles from the houses in the street from St Vincent’s Monastery and the fact that there is a museum about it. But we were not ready for how much of a story they told. Nor were we ready for the chapel in the old monastery. Decorated with paintings depicting the story of Christ’s life It is the most decorated chapel I can recall. And it is the place where I have seen the most relics. The most famous piece is the panorama of Lisbon a tile mosaic of the city (the featured image above). After the museum we went to the cafe and its courtyard and the courtyard pond with its turtles.

It started to rain as we waited for the bus to return to town. Fortunately it stopped as we left the terminus to catch the tram to the apartment. Despite being crowded (there were three trams in a row) we caught the third tram and got off at our stop which requires that we press flat against the wall to allow the tram to leave the stop.

Our apartment has one opening on the world – a door to a balcony no bigger than a window ledge. We find it necessary to open the door at night to allow air to circulate but this also allows noises from the neighbours and the garbage truck but Sunday night/Monday morning I was woken by the sound of gushing water. I thought it was heavy rain at first but as it was incessant I got up to check it out. Here was a bloke in his reflective jacket with a fire hose washing the street. Now the street is barely 1 car wide and this bloke went on and on and on. So neither of us got a full nights sleep.

The Retirees go Abroad – the Iberian Peninsula – the new city of Lisbon and our Fado Tour

On the way home it started to rain – ominous for tomorrow. Through the night the garbage collectors found that some idiot had parked his car awkwardly so at 1.00am they had to spend 30mins + trying to manoeuvre their truck through our street all the time yelling and screeching tyres.  Despite this we got some sleep and awoke to stormy weather. Despite the weather we trekked outside and found that the car remains there and another has parked near it so tonight will be worse. Umbrellas open we caught the tram to the underground and from Baix-Chiado we travelled to Oriente in the new city. The weather was now dreadful with high chilling wind and rain. We found a shopping centre attached to the metro and re-evaluated our plans. Today would be best spent at home in bed with a book. So after snapping some of the modern buildings in this area (the exact opposite of the old town) we retreated home.


That afternoon I did some research on a trip to Sintra. Surprisingly the roads to the attractions in Sintra were closed and yet the day before the Tourism office had recommended we travel to Sintra. That night we had arranged to meet Joanna for our Fado and dinner tour. We waited in the square for Joanna and the other 11 on the tour and I took pictures of the Hard Rock Cafe and the Averido do Campo Grande. Right on time Joanna arrived and whilst we waited for the others she told us that the storms that morning had brought down trees and flooded roads in and around Sintra. The others arrived except for one couple so we waited in the square whilst Joanne told us more about her city including a tip about the best roof top bar in town in the hotel on this square. She also told us that the monument in the square represented the wars against Spain to throw off its occupation in the 17th century.

As we were on the Fado tour she then took us into a back street to show us some graffiti commemorating their Princess of Fado Amalia Rodriges. Then we made our way to the Jingjiha bar to try this liquor again. Graffiti is evident in most places of Lisbon and in my previous blog I showed the Fado graffiti along some stairs. Joanna took us there as this is famous as representing the Portuguese way of life and it love of Fado. We had seen it in the daylight when it was far more impressive but as we travelled down the stairs there was another piece of graffiti mural I had missed the other day but I have included here. This is in the old Moorish sector of the city. She took us down a narrow lane where portraits of elderly residents of the sector were posted on the walls. She also showed us how some of the images in the tiling on the footpaths showed different things about the area – like this outline of the church it surrounds.

Then we boarded a number 12 tram to travel up the hill to the Alfama area which she said was the area where Fado had its true origins. We got off the tram very close to our apartment. Joanna showed us the new mosaic of Amalia. From there we walked to the viewing platforms in Alfama near St Georges Castle down some never ending staircases to our restaurant Pateo Alfama. Inside we heard Fado being performed and watched a stage show of dancing and Fado music whilst eating a traditional potato soup, tapas and a custard desert whilst consuming local wine. The performance was good but I am not a Fado fan.

We got away at 11.00pm and home was but a short and steep walk away. I tumbled into bed and was out to it fairly quickly. Even so I heard the rain that came all night long – not much promise for tomorrow.