On my last morning in Lisbon I decided to take advantage of the fact that breakfast was served until noon at my hotel (Janelas Verdes) and get out before it became too hot (although it was late March it had reached 28 degrees Celsius on both previous days). I had a look at my map and Esterla Park looked like the most attractive and cool option, within easy walking distance of my hotel. You can reach the Park on the no 28 Antique Tram. I thought that the cafe by the pond looked like a lovely spot to sip a coffee.
Cafe in Estrela Park
Sculpture by pond in Estrela Park
Sculpture prepared for Palm Sunday in Estrela Park
I visited the Museu Nacional de Art Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art) when I was in Lisbon in March 2012. One of the perks of being a guest at the nearby Janelas Verdes hotel was free entry to the Museum and as it was pretty hot (28 degrees celsius), I was looking for somewhere out of the heat.
It was a pity that we didn’t eat in the Tiled Room which was much more characterful than the stone clad area in which we dined.
In Summer most dining is done al fresco. However, when I was there they were in the middle of cutting down some large trees in the garden for safety reasons. I think it would be lovely to eat in the garden.
Ivan calls himself a cook rather than a chef and he had put together a Tasting Menu for us. Ivan and the other cooks bring the food to the table. As I explained in my review of the Panorama Restaurant Lisbon, I don’t consider myself a gourmet, I prefer a two or three course meal to several small taster courses.
We started with a selection of delicious breads baked on the premises, including Black Bread (no, not burnt toast), coloured with squid ink and it did smell a bit fishy.
The Panorama Restaurant at the Lisbon Sheraton Hotel, hosted Mary Goudie of Your Lisbon Guide and me for dinner in late March 2012. The restaurant is located on the top floor, so has great views over Lisbon. However, I think the views would be better in daylight, due to all the light pollution after dark.
Me posing with a glass of Mum at the Panorama Restaurant Lisbon
Bocca Restaurant in Lisbon hosted Mary Goudie of Your Lisbon Guide and me to dinner in late March 2012. This is one of the hot Lisbon restaurants, so I was a bit dismayed that the interior seemed more like an upmarket canteen with plastic topped tables and not very comfortable chairs. The tables were pretty close together, so if the restaurant was busy, you’d be pretty close to the adjacent diners.
Interior of Bocca Lisbon
We asked the staff to chose our dishes for us, which with hindsight, probably wasn’t a good idea. We started with an Amuse Bouche of small pieces of vegetables clipped and impaled on a wooden strip served with a dip.
I stayed at the As Janelas Verdes in Lisbon for 3 nights in late March 2012, on a complimentary basis. This boutique hotel is part of the Heritage group of hotels. The hotel is located close to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, to which Janelas Verdes guests have free entry. I was allocated a room at the back of the hotel on the second floor, which looked down on the hotel garden and had river views. The room was very quiet once the windows were shut.
I thought that my room was really characterful, although it wasn’t very large for a double. The bathroom was almost the same size as the room; it was a bit old fashioned but typically Portugese in style. I’d have preferred a shower screen to a curtain. The linens were very good; soft towels, bathrobes and pretty pillowcases. There was plenty of wardrobe and drawer space but the safe was too small for my netbook. There is free WiFi throughout the hotel, the signal in my room was almost as fast as wired connection.
I had my own private Lisbon tour guide, fellow Scot Mary Goudie, for my visit to Queluz Palace in Lisbon. The 18th century Rococo style palace was built as a summer home for Dom Pedro of Braganza. The palace was paid for by gold from Brazil. Queluz Palace is open from 9am to 5pm, but closed on Tuesdays and public holidays. The entrance fee is 7 Euro for the Palace and Gardens or 3 Euro for the Gardens only.
When visiting Lisbon, one of the interesting things to do is to sample the various port wines of Portugal in Lisbon’s Port Wine Institute. Located in the Chiado area of the city, it’s up the hill in Lisbon. A few too many samples of this stuff may make the trip down to the lower part of the city a bit too adventurous.
Port wine is a wine developed in Portugal by the British. To make the wine, it ferments for only 2 to 3 days, has brandy added, and then is aged in wooden barrels. How long it ages determines the taste and how sweet the wine is.
There are generally five different types of port wine – ruby, tawny, white, late bottle vintage (LBV), and wintage. Ruby is aged three years and has a strong grape and pepper taste. Tawny is aged in smaller wooden barrels and varies from 10 t0 40 years with a light, nellow taste. White is aged earlier like ruby and is young and robust. Late Bottle Vintage is aged 4 to 6 years while vintage is from a single harvest and is aged 2 years in wood and then 10 to 30 years in the bottle.
All port wines are medium sweet but they do range from a drier, less sweet to to very sweet. At the Port Wine Institute, you can choose which ones you want to sample. You are given a menu of the prices and can choose ones that you want or ask your server for some help. Port wines are most famous in the Porto area but are known throughout Portugal for their delicious, sweet flavor. Prices vary by type with the most expensive being the vintage wines.
Tasting wine in Lisbon is just one of the many things to do while you are in Lisbon. However, sampling the local wine and understanding the culture and history of port wine can give you a great taste of Portugal.
To help you plan your trip to Lisbon, the Portugese capital, I’ve collated all the tips on what to do in Lisbon from members of the Europe a la Carte blogging team. Lisbon is featured in our best cities in Europe to visit post.
Kimberly was lucky enough to be invited to a wedding which took place at the ruins of the Convent and Church of Carmo.This 14th century church was destroyed by an earthquake in the mid 17th century but left as a memorial to the death toll and destruction wrought that day. You can visit the ruins between 10am to 5pm which now house a small archaeological museum.