Friday turned out nice and sunny. Our first stop was Se Cathedral. It resides atop a hill, so we climbed a few stairs and checked it out. The church itself was standard. One real difference we saw in the churches in Portugal is their use of tiling in white with blue (think porcelain). It is often found on the exterior walls of the buildings. Se also had them in the monastery, which Herr and I paid to go see. Unlike several churches, this one was still quiet. November isn’t high tourist time.
We took another set of stairs down from the cathedral towards the river. This took us through narrow pedestrian streets with high residential buildings. One detail about the city stands out; they were hit hard in the past and much of the city is derelict. We would pass buildings completely boarded up in what seemed a decent area of town. You couldn’t walk down a street without seeing at least one building like this.
Despite the appearance of poverty, everyone was very friendly. We came out of the maze of back pathways onto the riverfront under the Dom Luis bridge. We ordered ice cream (great after breakfast snack, and very tasty), and I purchased a fuzzy cute hat to keep my ears warm (the chilly breeze was a bit unrelenting).
Afterwards, we walked back up to a gothic church that did not allow photography. At first we were put off by this, but when the crypt visit included the church cost, we changed our mind. It was worth it. I wish I could have taken photos! It was painted gold and had so much intricate woodwork it would take a day just to really look at the main cloister. I had the strong urge to sneak a photo (how many bozos with camera phones do that for a crappy photo that doesn’t do the architecture justice??), just like at Rosslyn Chapel, but alas, I cannot break stupid rules. *sigh* (Just FYI, I understand they want to make money from the postcards for support, but it still stinks.) The crypt was small; it was weird walking over, well, people. One could only really see the catacombs through a windowed hole in the floor.
After seeing a bunch of dead people, we went for lunch at a bistro (plenty of those) under the church, then caught a historic trolley that runs along the river to the ocean. When we disembarked, it felt slightly warmer (ahh, ocean effect :P). This area is much more posh. We walked through a large garden and checked out an old fortress (only us, it felt weird), then we proceeded to the beach. Herr and Yin went to check the breakwaters while JJ and I went to the waterfront. We both put limbs in the Atlantic Ocean and took many pictures before we started walking north. This area was my favorite; I’d go back just to spend more time along this stretch.
We made it to the northern point of the waterfront walk to see another fortress, but it had just closed. Honestly, we all felt we didn’t miss too much. In the same area was an expired international port building with only the main structure still standing. Oddly, with all the broken buildings, they didn’t feel… scummy? Used? Forbidden? In any case, the sun was beginning to set, so we caught a bus back to the main plaza. We had eaten at the only restaurants we really found, so Yin and JJ decided to go to Imperial McDonalds. *sigh* I do not like fast food, but at least European fast food still tastes like food. I had four chicken nuggets, which actually have chicken in them (it is worth checking out if you eat fast food).
Herr went for a stroll afterwards to get some tram footage over the lit-up Dom Luis bridge. I was too cold, so I missed the phenomenal lights. We left with a comfortable amount of time back to the airport Saturday morning. Overall, people and service is fantastic. Food only so-so. 😛 I definitely want to go back to see Lisboa and Sintra, and a beach farther south was also recommended to me. Lovely!