What do you associate Portugal with? Most Singaporeans are likely to reply Portuguese egg tarts! What a foodie nation we are :p Hence, we began 18 August with a hearty breakfast at Pastéis de Belém, where the famed Portuguese egg tarts were first created by Catholic monks! Among the 4 of us, we had 15 tarts! By the way, we weren’t as greedy as we thought because the adjacent table of 2 gobbled down 16!
With all the calories loaded, we were all ready for yet another intensive day! We were first greeted by the Manueline-styled Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Its unique architecture incorporated maritime elements and objects discovered during naval expeditions. It was also in this monastery that the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007, which laid down the basis for the reform of the European Union. Didn’t manage to enter the church though as there was an ongoing mass.
Continuing our tour of Belém, we crossed the street to Museu Colecção Berardo, home to Portuguese modern and contemporary art pieces. Here, the collection was valued by Christie’s to be in excess of €300 million. I’m not exactly an arts connoisseur, but this gallery is worth a visit!
By now, we were all exhausted, especially amid the scorching heat. Time for some traditional Portuguese food to recharge! Ongnie affirmed my hypothesis that Portuguese cuisines are a tad bit too salty for the typical Singaporean tastebud. My usual order at Portugália, gambas à bras (prawns and potatoes), satisfied me though
After our late lunch, it was time to ascend the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and enjoy a panaromic view of Lisbon from its rooftop. Inaugurated in 1960, this momument represented a romanticized idealization of the Portuguese conquests around the world. (In Singapore, our history lessons focused on the power of the British. However, if you read up on the vast empire of Portugal during Europe’s Age of Discovery, it is really amazing!)
At night, we returned yet again to Praça do Comércio to watch a 20-min display of lights. It reminded me of a similar display at Singapore’s National Museum during the Arts Festival, but on a grander scale with a larger audience.
That’s all for Part 2… Stay tuned for Part 3 (and very likely, Part 4)!