Friday, August 1, 2014

Lisbon's alive with art, sailing lore, food, fun and frolic

Somewhere over the rainbow is the delightful city of Lisbon, Lisboa in Portuguese, awaiting your discovery. This stunning view is taken from a second-story room in the renowned Altis Belem Hotel in the Belem district, near famed Belem Tower.  
A stroll from the Altis Belem Hotel took our travelers to nearby Belem Tower.

AH, WHAT a lovely city.
The Tagus River meanders through the Alfama, or old quarter, urging walkers to follow it, and soak up the sights, sounds and smells of centuries of progress, a horrible earthquake and more explorers per capita perhaps than any small country.
Old and sturdy, with exciting new buildings going up, Portugal is proud of its maritime tradition and its knowledge of the sea.
The museums of Lisbon celebrate the rich history and culture of this Portuguese capital city. The Maritime Museum is perfect for families who adore all things nautical. My partner, Keller, was fascinated.  We went back a second day.
The museums focused on everything from Lisbon's rich maritime past to decorative Portuguese tiles, and everything in between
A wooden ship in the Maritime museum
is said to be a replica of  Vasco de Gama's.
THERE'S A FADO museum paying tribute to the national musical form, and other gorgeous museums, hidden gems with colorful artwork, tucked in the corners and streets near fun restaurants and inviting squares. To appreciate the city’s dramatic stone architecture, take a guided walking tour.  It will point out the fascinating Maritime Museum, one of the most important in Europe, evoking Portugal's domination of the seas. Its colossal 17,000 items are installed in the west wing of Jeronimos Monastery, and include model ships from the Age of Discovery and onward. The oldest exhibit is an beatific wooden figure from a ship said to represent the Archangel Raphael that accompanied Vasco de Gama on his voyage to India.
Lisbon is rich in sculpture. 
LISBON IS as fascinating and cohesive as other larger European cities, with its gorgeous architecture and beautifully preserved old quarter.  The city fairly glistens in its prime seaport spot.
Lisbon's gothic and Romanesque cathedral features many tombs, including Vasco DeGama's. 
One of Europe's most unsung and least visited cultural capitals, Lisbon is often overlooked in favor of Paris, Rome and the Scandinavian capitals.
Altis Belem hotel's amenities are
world class, including fine beverages.
BUT THERE is so much to do in Lisbon you might plan a week. In only a few days, one can a lot of  Lisbon's options, many of which turn out to be those glorious large and small museums, churches and castles. Almost everything is made more affordable by the purchase of a Lisboa card, offering free and discounted admissions to dozens of activities including the Metro.
With its people welcoming, proud and polite, the nicely dressed Lisboans are eager to serve up a meal of seafood or sausage, with a glass of port, for which Portugal is known.
IMPRESSIVE monuments abound in Lisbon, many along the banks of the river.  The monument to the "Discoveries" is one of our favorites, where Prince Henry the Navigator sits at the helm of an enormous marble ship's bow.
The Discoveries monument in Lisbon is a stunning ode to exploration.
It honors Portuguese explorers who contributed to the country's famed "Golden Age of Discovery."  Seeing it is a must, along with a visit to the serene Jeronimos Monastery.  Don't miss the Golden Gate replica and the enormous Christo Rei Statue across the river.  We strolled to Belem Tower, from our hotel.  Built  in the early 16th century, it is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style,  with hints of other architectural styles.  The structure was built from lioz limestone and thus withstood the earthquake that leveled much of the city.

The Alfama offers many unique sights, including this door.
OUR RECENT visit featured a stay at the Altis Belém Hotel and spa, a five- star design hotel in Belém, walking distance to the castle and overlooking the Tagus River.
This unique hotel makes clever use of Lisbon's Golden Age of Discovery, complete with 50 themed luxury rooms and five suites. Beautiful paneling and locales visited by Portugal's daring navigators and explorers take the traveler to Mauritania in Africa, through India and Japan, and even across the Atlantic to Brazil.
You'll also enjoy the gourmet treats from Restaurant Feitoria, where we had several late suppers and beautiful buffet breakfasts.
The Spa is highly recommended, although in our full five days, we didn't have the time to get there!
The Stillwater Protective Association maintains a  "good neighbor" credo.

COMING SOON:   What fun to live in the west and be part of an exciting stewardship program. Stillwater Protective Association is having its major fundraiser today and we'll share the goods with you Wednesday.  Plus coming soon: Travails of building a major addition. It takes skill, talent, elbow grease and patience. Do our travelers have that?  At least one of them has all four.  The other lacks a couple of the imperatives.  Remember to explore, learn and live and visit us Wednesdays and weekends at

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