Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lisbon sightseeing & free time - concert tonight!

Although it's still late morning for our friends back in the US, here in Lisbon we've already had a full day of sightseeing and an opportunity to sample local cuisine.

At 9:00 AM, Tour Manager Stefania introduced us to Diana, who would be our Lisbon guide for the next 4 hours. Diana led us on a very informative and interesting panoramic tour of the city, and there were multiple opportunities to hop on/hop off the bus for pictures. See below.

We saw the Edward VII park, named in honor of Portugal's strategic alliance with England, as well as rode to the suburb of Belém, about 6 km from the city center. Belém is a beautiful area home to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Monastery of St. Jerome and the Tower of Belém -- the latter being the port from which Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama set sail to discover the new route to India!

While in Belém, Diana took us to the Pasteis de Belém, a pastry shop serving up the delicious Portuguese specialty pasteis de nata, since 1837! Pasteis de nata is a small custard-filled tart cake, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon on top--a perfect way to cool down and stock up before visiting the Monastery. (The high today is 81º F!)

Afterwards we ventured back to the center of town and cruised through the Alfama district, got out and toured the "Sé" or Cathedral, and then Diana led us on a walking tour of Alfama, which included the old Jewish Quarter and a pass by the River Tagus.

At 1:00 PM the tour ended in Rossio Square (also known as Praça Dom Pedro IV), where we had free time to find lunch and walk around on our own.

It's just after 4:00 PM local time, and the choir is back at Hotel Roma freshening up for our concert. We leave at 4:30 for dress rehearsal, with the concert to follow at 6:30 PM.



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