Friday, 27 April 2018

Cascais & Lisbon - From ancient history to a modern pastry - Day 6 and 7

On Tuesday 3rd April, we went to my sister's house to pick up my 2 year old great-nephew from San Francisco, so we could take him to the park.
My niece had to go to the hairdresser, my sister and my younger niece (the bride) had to pick up the wedding dress and do some other wedding related chores.
Little M grabs his little scooter every time anyone mentions going to the park, so we installed his car seat in our rental car, put his scooter in the boot and off we went to the park.  Just outside the centre of Cascais is Marechal Carmona Park , a great area with a lake, cafe, kid's playground, chickens, ducks and peacocks roaming around free.

We started on the swings, then the slides, but we had been at the park for probably 20 minutes when it started to drizzle.
The forecast had been for rain the whole day so we decided to return home to little M's great disappointment.

Marechal Carmona Park in Cascais - kids area, the lake, running after the ducks, chicken, and M with his scooter. The plastic ball has featured in Perth in Sculptures by the Sea , Perth in 2014.

After a short rest at my parents house where they were staying, my younger sister and nephew (who had arrived from South Africa that morning), and my parents showed up so we could all have lunch together at middle sister's house. A noisy affair as usual with 10 people around the table exchanging their latest news.

After lunch a few of us got into two cars and went to Cascais Shopping for clothes shopping - my husband needed a suit as he's lost weight and didn't have anything suitable to wear for the wedding, and my nephew needed a jacket too. We ladies were there to give our opinion 😉

On our return to my sister's we helped her with dinner and soon enough my brother in law  arrived from work and joined the crowd for another noisy meal. The bridal couple joined us much later after we had finished dinner.

From right - my parents, me, my middle sister, her husband and my husband at back, the tall one is married to San Francisco niece in front of me, on left my nephew and younger sister from South Africa and my daughter in the middle front.

On Wednesday 4th April, my daughter Karina had to meet with someone in Lisbon, so my husband and I, Karina and my younger sister and nephew drove to Lisbon. While Karina attended to her business we walked to the nearby Basilica da Estrela (Estrela Basilica), a former Carmelite convent.
Built by order of Queen Mary I of Portugal, when she gave birth to her first son (Jose, Prince of Brazil), construction started in 1779 and was finished in 1790 two years after the death of the prince at the age of 27 with smallpox.

Located on a hill, the church has a giant dome and is visible from many parts of Lisbon. It is built in the baroque, neoclassical style with twin bell towers, lots of statues of saints on the facade and walls and floors covered in grey, pink and yellow marble in geometric patterns.

The tomb of Queen Mary I is on the right transept and behind it is a cork and terracotta nativity scene with more than 500 figurines. Unfortunately shortly after we arrived we were ushered to the back of the church as a church service was about to start, so we didn't get to see the nativity scene or the tomb.
Estrela Basilica 
Estrela Basilica
Across the street the Jardim da Estrela (Estrela Gardens) is a lovely neighbourhood park with plenty of seats, greenery and mature trees, a pond with ducks, a wrought iron bandstand where music is played in Summer, statues and a nice cafe. Inaugurated in 1852, the park covers 4,6  hectares, and is opened from 7am to midnight every day of the week.
One end of the route of the famous yellow Tram nr. 28 that a lot of tourists ride goes past the Gardens and the Basilica.

There goes Tram 28

After a stroll around the park that was full of grandparents with grandkids, we were feeling a bit cold so we went into the coffee shop for a warm drink while we awaited for my daughter to let us know when she was ready.

Estrela Garden - statues, mature trees, pond with ducks, bandstand and Coffee shop
I've never visited it, but on the northern side of the park next to the English Church of St George is the English cemetery where British nationals have been buried for a couple of centuries. You can read the story here.

When my daughter was ready we joined her down the road and went for lunch at a nearby restaurant that catered for the workers of the area. Service by a grumpy overworked waiter was quick, food was average and cheap. 

I'd heard of an artisanal factory - Fabrica do Pastel de Feijao (white bean tart Factory) - where award winning "bean tarts" were made, and because it's one of my favourite Portuguese pastries I convinced my husband to drive us there for dessert and coffee.

Situated near the National Pantheon,  we spent a lot of time driving around the area, getting lost in the narrow one way streets, until we eventually found parking and walked to this tiny bakery to savour a pastry.
At first when I saw the pastries I was disappointed, because those weren't the bean tarts I was expecting - the normal bean tarts at pastry shops are round, these were rectangular. 

These handmade tarts were reinvented by a pastry chef, using similar ingredients - white beans, almonds and eggs (no flour) - the pastry was nice and crunchy, the filling moister than the original ones, although a bit too sweet for me, but overall they were beautifully crafted.
If you visit Lisbon you might want to give them a try - Fabrica do Pastel de Feijao, Rua dos Remédios 33 (in the Alfama area).

The traditional white bean tart (left) and the reinvented bean tart (Pastel de Feijao)
Buildings in the area or on the way to the Bean pastry factory (2nd photo middle right is the Pantheon)
Pastry and coffee done and we went back to the car to our next destination - Museu Nacional dos Coches (The National Coach Museum) at Avenida da India, in the Belem district.
Situated in a new architect designed purpose built building since 2015, the Coach Museum is one of Lisbon's most visited museums housing one of the finest collections of historical carriages in the world.
Originally created in 1905 by the last Portuguese monarch - Queen Amelia of Orléans, to house an extensive and impressive collection of carriages that belonged to the Portuguese Royal family and nobility from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

The National Coach Museum building (bottom) and view from inside to the MAAT museum across the road and in the far end the 25th of April bridge
Paintings, coats for arms and adornments on coach doors
Massive wooden gilded works of art adorned some of the fancier carriages
Postal coach, smaller coaches and kids coaches
It took us about 2 hours to visit the Museum and then we got back in the car and drove to the other side of the busy road to the  Torre de Belem (Tower of Belem) and Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Monument).

The Discoveries Monument (top left) and 25th of April bridge,  the Belem Tower (right)  copy of a hydroplane from 1922 used to cross the Atlantic ocean

The Tower of Belem is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Commissioned by King John II as part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus river in the 16th century in the Portuguese Manueline style with a 30mt, four storey tower. 
On another post I'll show you more details of the Discoveries Monument that we saw close up when we returned to Lisbon on another day to visit the MAAT museum, that brick building that could be seen across the road from the window of the Coach Museum.

And after our full day we returned to Cascais and the family got together at our parent's house for another noisy dinner.

Our route in Lisbon - from the Basilica (central point) to the Bean tart factory to the right and back to the left to the Coach Museum, the Tower of Belem and the Discoveries Monument
And on Monday I'll show you a fabulous mural I spotted while in the car on the way to Lisbon.
Have a wonderful weekend.


  1. What wonderful full days you had here! I prefer the round ones too, the ones you tasted seem like "design" cakes to me and don't ad a thing to them. Have you tasted "Pastéis de Cerveja"? Hum, a favourite of ours!
    What did you think of the crowds? Had to battle some?

    1. I too prefer the round ones,not as sweet for my taste. Never tasted and had never heard of Pasteis de Cerveja, was just reading about them, will have to give them a try. I don't like beer so I hope I like them.
      Not too bad at this time of the year I found, we didn't go to that many places but it all went well time wise.

  2. So nice to visit the Lisbon highlights in your country and to meet the whole family again!
    Great to see the wellknown buildings you showed us.

    1. Glad you could revisit well known building Marianne.

  3. The Tower of Belem and the Basilica are particularly impressive!

    1. Thanks William. Portugal has some great monuments mostly related to the Age of Discoveries when there was plenty of money to built some grand and impressive buildings.

  4. Sad the weather wasn´t good enough for more fun in the park!
    Oh, my, that´s a wonderful family picture, Sami. Your family looks so young!
    Impressive church, if sad story.
    Beautiful pic of the tram, too.
    Those doors and carriages are beautiful.

    1. Actually most of the time we were in Portugal it rained or was cool, typical April weather. The ages in the family pic range from 22 to 85, but I must say I think my parents look very good for their age.
      The carriages were amazing, so much work and art went into their construction.

  5. This sounds like such a wonderful time with family and all. I love the trip and photos -- never having been there it is all new to me. That carriage museum looks fun and the church beautiful. And I loved the color in the park. How joyful it all is!

    1. Thanks Jeanie we certainly had a great time.

  6. You certainly fitted a good bit in. Some of the carriages are so ornate, you start to look for more simply decorated ones. I remember seeing long queues at Belem Tower. Yes, a lot of tourists ride the 28 tram, too many.

    1. We did considering we weren't on holiday that long. This time there were no queues at the Belem tower, it might have been closed already. I agree Andrew far too many people on the 28 tram, the poor locals who use it as their means of transport aren't happy.

  7. nice pictures of your travels

  8. Another fabulous travel tale for us to appreciate. I fell in love with the Basilica. Even the park held my interest, rain and all.

    Estrela Garden was incredible and so beautifully green and romantic looking with the sculptures and architecture, as well as greenery.

    But that coach museum was the highlight today, I believe. Those children's coaches were out of this world. They looked more like what you might call a pram (baby buggy) to me.

    Thanks for these incredible photos and I look forward to the next installation.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, the Basilica is very pretty, pity I couldn't photograph the Nativity scene which I imagine would be quite unique.
      Yes, the children's coaches were used to carry the children, as a buggy and also for them to play. Apparently they used to be pulled by ponies, sheep or goats :)

  9. Wow, a wonderful post, I so enjoyed seeing all of your photographs.
    The coach museum looked marvellous, those carriages really are ornate aren't they.

    So nice to see your family in the photograph too, special times when you are together.

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks Jan, the carriages are really beautiful, and to think that they were done a couple of centuries ago!
      Have a lovely weekend.

  10. Um belo passeio por Lisboa e o Museu dos Coches é único e muito belo.
    Um abraço e bom Domingo.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

    1. Obrigada Francisco, também gostei do Museu. Bom Domingo.

  11. What a super post Sami, so much to see! I loved the group family photo, you are a good looking crew 😀 I think they shouldn't have messed with the tart, it looked much better round ☺

  12. Thanks Grace. I also prefer the round tart :)

  13. It must have been exciting to have all the family together. Lots of history in Lisbon. I have been to Portugal but unfortunately not to Lisbon.

    1. Thanks Diane. Lisbon is a lovely city.


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