Sunday, 27.08.17. Lisbon, Portugal. 4 days until the wedding. First full day in Europe.
Day 2 was everyone’s first full day in Lisbon, and it was a packed one! I organized a self-guided tour of Bélem for our guests who had arrived in Lisbon and an evening sail on the Tagus river during sunset. We also had dinner plans with Craig, Michelle, and Andree and Hotel Avenida Palace thew us a surprise sparking wine party! Needless to say, we started early, with a bus picking everyone up (well, 13 of us) at 9:00 AM (after Nutella croissants, of course!). While I think a few people were skeptical of my Portuguese bus renting abilities, our driver arrived early in a nice bus/van with room for everyone. He even spoke a tiny bit of English! Pro tip – if you are traveling with a large group, a bus rental is a FABULOUS idea.
Our bus driver drove us 20 minutes straight to Belém, particularly the Jerónimos Monastry. I jumped off first and secured tickets for everyone from the neighboring Archaeological Museum (another pro tip) so that we did not have to wait in line…thank goodness. The line was INSANE!
Our tickets worked (thank goodness!) and all thirteen of us (again, me, Dan, Craig, Michelle, Andree, Nonni, Aunt Di, the Wares, the Cozzis, and the Marsdens) skipped the crazy line and waltzed right in to the monastery, which dates back to the 1500s. The interior was not nearly as crazy busy as the outside and everyone was able to stroll around and explore on their own. We spent about an hour wondering about the monastery.
After touring the Jermonimos Monastry, we visited the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia (the Archaeological museum, where I purchased our tickets), which is connected to the Jermónimos Monastry. The museum has some interesting information, but it was really more of an air conditioning break….
After spending about 30 minutes in the archaeological museum, we walked across – or actually under – the main street in Bélem and over to the Monument to the Discoveries. Even Nonni made the walk!
We all made it to the Monument to the Discoveries, which is a modern monument from 1960 dedicated to all of those famous Portuguese explorers. You can also visit the very top via stairs or escalator.
After about 30 minutes at the Monument to the Discoveries, everyone walked from the Monument to the Discoveries to the Belém Tower, which is a much older structure, dating back to the 1500s, that looks like it could have been a castle. You can also climb the Belém Tower, which Craig, Michelle, Andree, and the Cozzis did! The rest, with the exception of myself and Aunt Di, sat and enjoyed the view. Aunt Di and I made a sneak trip to the Pastéis de Belém – the most famous desserts in Lisbon (and maybe Portugal) – for treats for later!
About an hour later, after those who wanted to climb the Belém Tower had the opportunity, the group visited Wine with A View – a legit wine cart – for a glass of wine with views over the Tagus River!
After our wine, the bus picked up the group in Belém right on time and drove us back to Hotel Avendia Palace. Upon arrival, I went with Michelle, Andree, and the Cozzis back to the Marché de Baixa for a snack and some sangria! I enjoyed a delicious pork wrap with potato fries.
We couldn’t stay at the market too long, because, as I mentioned, Hotel Avenida Palace gave us a sparkling wine happy hour for us and our guests as a wedding gift (!) and we scheduled our happy hour before we departed for our sunset cruise! In addition to the sparking wine gifted by Hotel Avenida Palace, Dan and I put out the pastel de natas that Aunt Di and I purchased at Pasteis de Belém!
The happy hour was held in one of Hotel Avenida Palace’s sitting rooms and it was a great way for everyone in town to meet! Our guest list was getting larger, and the cocktail hour guests included me and Dan, Craig, Michelle, Andree, Aunt Di, Nonni, the Wares, the Cozzis, the Marsdens, the Davins, Jimmy, Cassandra, and the Perrys! A big crowd all the way in Portugal!!
After our sparking wine hour, our bus (the same from earlier – it waited in Hotel Avenida Palace’s small driveway) picked us up right on time and dropped us off at one of Lisbon’s ports, this one near the TimeOut Market, for our sunset cruise on the Halycon I (a great company that I highly recommend)! We all climbed (literally, via a ladder, even 93 year-old Nonni) and boarded the boat! We sailed down the Tagus river to Belém, past the Jerónimos Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries, and the Belém Tower, and the back up, passing under the 25 de Abril Bridge, the Praça do Comercio, and the Alfama. The sun started to set as we were passing the Alfama, and it was completely dark when our captain permitted Betty (!!) to drive the boat into the harbor. During our sail, we enjoyed lots of sparkling wine and some tapas! We all loved the tour!
After the sail, our bus driver dropped most people off at Hotel Avenida Palace, but me, Dan, Michelle, Andree, and Craig went to dinner directly from the sail to one of Dan and my favorite restaurants – Minibar! We dined on a number of tapas and cocktails and towards the end, Pryor and Byran showed up! Another great day of wedding week!
Stolen photo creds.: Joanne Cozzi, The Perrys.
For more wedding week, check out my other posts on wedding week: