Rain and Lisbon traffic don't mix
06.12.2012 - 06.12.2012 14 °C
We woke early, well rested after a night at the Heathrow Novotel. Still on Melbourne time Erin and I were awake around 4am but feeling ready to complete the last leg of the 'getting there' journey, a 2.5hour flight to Lisbon. We got the 5:30am shuttle bus and used the self service check-in and bag drop to get through the formalities quickly. After a quick security screen (no customs) we headed off to find some breakfast.
One thing I will say for the English is that they know how to do a good sausage. Our blog will be mostly about food so get used to these food references.
Allanah tried the Marmite, I was not that brave. Coffee was pretty good for an airport and that helped a lot with the nagging headache I had developed going cold turkey for more than 36 hours. Luckily I had eased back to one coffee a day for the week prior to departure.
The flight was rather empty and though late to leave due to baggage reconciliation issues the flight was un eventful. We almost got diverted due to heavy fog in Lisbon but the captain said it lifted about an hour before arrival (they were making contingency plans) so we were good to land. In the end a late departure may actually have saved us some hassle.
Dad picked us up from the airport and so began the toughest part of our trip to date...finding an obscure Lisbon street (that even the cabbies haven't heard of) in the rain. This one is not for the faint-hearted. For those who have never been to Lisbon, lanes, street signs, etc. are generally ignored and at best are a distraction. Add to this that placement and information provided on directional signs are less than useless and you might get a glimpse of how hard it is to drive around Lisbon, even for a Portuguese.
The apartment we are staying at is on a small footpath ( not even a street) called Travessa de Terras do Monte, in a dead-end part of town at the top of the hill. we asked cabbies, locals, anyone we could find, if they knew where it was but had no luck. Eventually we got close enough that we could arrange to meet the guy with the key And he showed us the way. Once, found it is quite easy but that was quite a drama. Here is the view that greeted us
So after carrying the bags down the stairs to the apartment we went off to find some typical Portuguese food to kick off the holiday proper. We headed to Restauradores and the Rossio and end up at an old cerveijaria called the Beira Gare.
This is on a corner of the Rossio and is basically a pub where workers come in and take a table or eat at the counter and get cheap, good quality food. They have some traditional Portuguese mains like bacalhao and pork asado and bitecas but mostly people have small 'tapas' type food like pasteis de bacalhao and bifanas (steak sandwiches) with a beer at the bar. This was a good start.
Allanah got the Lombo do Porco assado no forno (essentially a roast pork but with an excellent marinade we have been unable to replicate) served with chips, rice and salad (Portuguese typically have 3 carbs -rice and chips as well as bread- to balance out the mountains of meat - I love this place). Erin, dad and I shared some platters of mixed pasteis and fish fillets. Surprisingly the pasteis included leitao (suckling pig) which is something even Dad hadn't had in pasteis form before.
After lunch we went for a walk around the shops of the Rossio and Rua Augusta and bought some gloves for the girls. We put off that winter purchase until we got here as we thought we could get some good leather gloves here which would be climate-appropriate.
After walking awhile, we got in the car and headed out to Beatriz's school to pick her up. This brush with the traffic again was quite scary with heavy rain and idiot drivers still featuring. We survived though and took Beatriz for a quick stopover at Pasteis de Belem.
For those of you not in the know Pasteis de Belem is the home of the Portuguese custard tart and whilst the ones you get elsewhere are nice, even delicious, they are not even close to tasting like these things. The custard is creamy rather than tasting of vanilla or egg custard and the pastry is super-crisp. The factory produces thousands and thousands of these every day yet the recipe remains a closely guarded secret. The government has apparently announced they are looking to develop this as an export market.
We were all exhausted by this time but it was Beatriz that fell asleep in the car. She is in the middle of exams and had to go home to study. We had a quick soup back at Restauradores and headed back to the apartment for a sleep.