Monday, November 5, 2012

Sidecar Tour

On our last full day in Portugal Elizabeth and I went on a sidecar tour around Lisbon and a small neighboring town, Belem. We happened to see someone else enjoying a sidecar tour earlier in our stay and knew we couldn't leave Portugal without trying it ourselves!
We woke up bright and early drove around the gorgeous cobblestone streets of Lisbon with our amazing and adorable tour guide Annibal.
First Annibal took us to a very old church that was affected by an earthquake in the 1700s. The earthquake unfortunately hit while mass was going on so many of the members did not make it out alive. There is a monument outside of the church in remembrance of the people who died from the earthquake.

Down the road from the church is the Santa Justa Lift, which happened to be designed by the same man who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. At the top of the lift you can see beautiful views of the lower/newer areas of the city of Lisbon. The Tagus River used to cover most of where Lisbon's main squares are located today, but after the earthquake the Portuguese were forced to rebuild the city and decided to extend it's land by putting wooden stilts into the ground and building new squares over top. It's crazy to think that more than a quarter of the city is built on top of wooden stilts!

We made a quick stop at the oldest coffee shop in Lisbon--A Brasileira--over 125 years old and still contains all of the original architecture, signs, etc.

Belem, is a small town right outside of Lisbon, is most known for the Tower of Belem monument and it's delicious Pastry de Belem. We were lucky enough to grab a seat at the Paseis de Belem which makes more than 23,000 of it's famous Pastry de Belem pastries each DAY!
I'm usually not a big pastry person, but I must say the Pastry de Belem is the perfect pastry.
A flaky pastry with creme filling and topped with cinnamon and powder sugar, the pastry de belem is probably my favorite pastry in the world! The Pastry de Belem is a top secret recipe; only three pastry chefs know the family recipe at one time. They work in shifts and cannot ever hang out with each other just in case some kind of natural disaster or poisoning were to occur. Ten or so years ago someone figured out the recipe and tried to start selling knock off versions of the pastry which of course made the owners extremely angry and they quickly got that shut down. We ended up eating two, because the Portuguese always eat two ;)

After a delightful mid-morning snack we roamed around Belem to see the Tower de Belem and other monuments.
This is just a portion of a giant monastery that was built after Portugal acquired a new colony. Let's just say Portugal used to make it rain way back in the day.
We eventually made it back to Lisbon where Annibal showed us his favorite place in the city. A small lookout with gorgeous views overlooking the entire city. Lisbon is one of the most breathtaking cities I have ever been to. The skies are always a cloudless perfect blue contrasting perfectly with the white buildings and clay roofs.
What an incredible tour. I highly recommend doing the same if you happen to visit Lisbon any time soon--you definitely won't regret it!

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