Our last day in Lisbon was a day of morning rainbows and cold winds shoving aside the black clouds. It was a day of walking past Museu Sāo Roque and down the steep graffiti-lined hill, Calçada da Glória, dodging the clanking funicular Elevador da Glória. It was a day of hopping on and hopping off the double-decker red City Sightseeing Portugal bus.
Huddled together against the wind on the upper deck, we drove past Praça do Marquês de Pombal, an important roundabout between Avenida da Liberdade and the Eduardo VII Park, where the Marquis of Pombal, a powerful prime-minister who ruled Portugal from 1750 to 1777, was planted grandly on a pedestal with a lion. The Marquês gazed toward the area of Lisbon that was rebuilt under his direction after the disastrous 1755 Lisbon earthquake, probably thinking about the destruction he had witnessed.
We drove past the Campo Pequeno Bullring, built in the neo-Mudéjar style, a Romantic style inspired by old Arab architecture from Iberia. A woman told us over our earphones that the Portuguese don’t kill the bulls as they do in Spain.
We made it past Lisbon’s prison, Estabelecimento Prisional de Lisboa, without getting locked up. It was hard to imagine what it would be like to be held captive for a lifetime. We then took a turn through the modern part of the city.
We moseyed past the azulejo-decorated Aqueduto das Águas Livres, or “Aqueduct of the Free Waters,” a 109-arch historic aqueduct in Lisbon. Built between 1728 and 1835 by order of Dom João V to bring Lisbon its first drinking water, it is a remarkable example of 18th-century Portuguese engineering. It is also the site where 19th-century mass murderer Diogo Alves pushed victims over the edge. The aqueduct was closed to the public soon after.
We hopped off the bus near the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Manueline Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the whimsical Torre de Belém. Sadly we found the museums housed in the Mosteiro, the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia and the Museu da Marinha (Naval Museum), were closed on Mondays, as it seems so many European museums are. We should have known! Mike didn’t want to stand in line for the Torre de Belém. That was fine by me, as I’d seen it on my first trip.
We walked around the Praça do Imperio, where we encountered a statue of horses and enjoyed the serenity of the botanical gardens.
We stopped to admire the 52-meter tall limestone Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Monument) on the northern bank of the Tagus River estuary, where ships departed to explore and trade with India and the Orient. The monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries. It was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. At its prow is Henry the Navigator, while behind him stand the greats of the day: Vasco da Gama, Diogo Cão, Fernão de Magalhães, and 29 others.
After our wanderings, we hopped back on the City Sightseeing bus.
We hopped off in Lisbon proper, where we stopped for lunch at Adega Portuguesa, a pleasant little restaurant. Over lunch, we debated whether to go to the seaside resort of Cascais, but ultimately, after dropping by the train station, we decided not to go.
Instead, we hopped back on the hop-on hop-off bus and continued the tour up through the waterfront Parque das Nações, with its modernistic edifices, public art installations, riverfront cafes, and gardens.
Surprisingly, I found myself coming full circle to where I started my Camino (on journey: launching my camino), at the Gare do Oriente, the space-age train station designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Its slender columns fan out into a concertina roof to create a kind of glass forest.
I also came face to face, once again, with the Torre Vasco da Gama, a 145-meter high concrete and steel structure, shaped like the sail of Vasco da Gama’s caravel, a small, highly maneuverable sailing ship developed in the 15th century by the Portuguese to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. The memorial to the famous explorer brought me home to my own adventurous spirit, the spirit that had brought me across the Atlantic to walk over 800km across northern Spain.
Coming back to the beginning of my journey proved the notion that life is a circle, that life offers many deaths and renewals, that the human spirit is born and dies, and something new arises in its place. Nature bursts forth with beauty, the beauty fades and is replaced with more beauty. I felt that this was the journey of my Camino, and our subsequent trip to Portugal. I learned to appreciate that life has ups and downs, and that life is not a straight line but one of being born, dying and and being renewed.
The bus returned to Avenida da Liberdade, and finally deposited us back where we started our tour in the morning, again creating another circle within a circle.
We made our way back up to our neighborhood, stopping into a rather upscale cafe, where we enjoyed cake and Port and entertained ourselves with our reflections in the mirrors.
Back in Principe Real, we stopped into my favorite shop, LostIn, where I did a little scarf shopping.
We topped off our day with a lovely dinner at LostIn, where we enjoyed our final glimpses of Lisbon’s city lights. My long journey had come to an end, but I wondered what new might arise from the long road I had walked.
*Monday, November 5, 2018*
*10,063 steps, or 4.26 miles*
“PROSE” INVITATION: I invite you to write up to a post on your own blog about a recently visited particular destination (not journeys in general). Concentrate on any intention you set for your prose. One of my intentions was to use five random verbs in my travel essay each day: 1)
prove, 2) plant, 3) think, 4) entertain, and 5) imagine. √
It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or non-fiction for this invitation. You can either set your own writing intentions, or use one of the prompts I’ve listed on this page: writing prompts: prose. (This page is a work in process.) You can also include photos, of course.
Include the link in the comments below by Monday, November 11 at 1:00 p.m. EST. When I write my post in response to this invitation on Tuesday, November 12, I’ll include your links in that post.
This will be an ongoing invitation. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂
I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!